I met Richard the peanut farmer as I was getting ready to board a ferry from the Bainbridge Island to Seattle. He saw me struggling with my four bags and asked if he could help carry some of them on board. He had the kind of open, smiling eyes that a person can't help but trust. I handed him a couple of bags and we got in line.
We exchanged names, and then he told me he had been visiting his cousin on the island while his wife was in business meetings in Seattle. They were from NM. I told him how beautiful I thought it was there. Richard said that he was a semi-retired farmer, still growing a bit of crops and also playing the real estate game, but mostly traveling around and visiting his grand-kids. "That's how I stay young," he explained. He said he has three grand-kids and two more on the way.
After we got on board he offered to buy me some food and a drink, so I took him up on it. We took our snacks up to the sundeck to see the view. The view as we approached downtown Seattle was spectacular. Richard asked me if I'd paid for my ticket and I said "of course." He said that they only charge for the trip to Bainbridge and not the trip back. I looked at the ticket I'd bought from a machine and indeed it said it was good for a trip from Seattle to Bainbridge and not the other way around, but as that had been the only option that was the one I chose, not knowing the return trip was free. Richard said he'd be making the trip again in a couple days and kindly offered to buy my ticket from me, so I took him up on it.
Richard, a seemingly happily married 60 year old man, was friendly without being flirtatious. We talked about things that can go wrong when one is traveling, and he told me about a time when his daughter was going to school in France and he found out that she'd taken the wrong bus and gotten lost. I told him about a time when something similar happened to me, when I was going to school in London. I remember calling my mom, who also lived there, but neither of us could pin point where I was so it would have been futile for her to drive around looking for me. She suggested I find another bus and ask the driver which route to take home, which I did. I told Richard how my mom was forever worried after that that I'd be lost one day and call her up from across the world.
After we arrived in Seattle, Richard helped me carry my bags again until we reached First Ave, where we then headed our separate ways. "Well, I wish you success in your career, a long, happy life, and -- for your mom's sake -- safety!" he exclaimed with his big, friendly grin. I returned his sentiment: "I wish you a lovely retirement, and more healthy grand-babies!"
"Thanks," he replied, and turned to leave. Then he turned back and added, "Oh, and I hope your ship comes in!"