Anxiety at the Dock

It was almost time for the ferry, the big car ferry that arrives from the city every two hours.  I was standing on the metal ramp leading to a small wharf where the Stormaway waited, a twenty-two passenger boat that carries foot passengers on to two of the islands in Howe Sound. A heron squawked its ghastly protest at a seagull, or at the nerve of someone who chose to stand too close to the piling where she was perched. Too bad. I liked the view from there. A woman started down the walkway toward me, then stopped. "Are we allowed to walk here?" Sure, it's okay to go further. All the way down,  I said, but she waited, reversed. Stopped again, perhaps a metre from me, and stood by the railing.

Vaguely middled aged, wearing a rain jacket, though the skies were blue. "Oh, did you see that? Something brown, running along the rocks? I hope it's not a baby cougar. Do you know that a cougar once walked through the ferry terminal, right beside the cars?" It's not a cougar, just a river otter. "Look! There it is. I hope it doesn't come up here." That's unlikely. "I hope so." It wouldn't have a reason to. "Well you never know. Is this dock safe?" The Stormaway bobbed like a toy boat on a cord in the wash from the Queen of Surrey as it prepared to dock. The doors were already open, the deckhands secured hooks that appeared to be all that held the ship to port, though there must have been other supports that were not visible from where I watched.
The man immediately declared and repeated at least twice that he was 58. Maybe it was his birthday. He'd come over to consider an old car, and he assessed it throughly. He looked under the hood, under the chassis, under the trunk liner. He bounced each corner to try the shock absorbers, checked the fluids, flicked on the lights, the fan, the heater. At one point during the test drive, the driver of a car behind noticed the sign in the rear window and hollered out, "You're selling that for $500? What's your number?" The 58-year old  laughed. "It's a sign from God that I am meant to buy this car." On the way to the office where ownership would be transferred, something got him talking about a friend who had advised him to move to Medellin, Colombia to wait out the self-destruction of North America. The coming collapse of capitalism, the banking system, the stock market.  Extremely sensitive to electromagnetic radiation, neither he nor his friend use microwave ovens, cell phones, or wireless technology for their computers. But he uses a computer, of course; it's how he saw the ad for the car. The ownership transfer proceeded without a hitch, and he left on the next ferry.

André Malraux: "What interests me in any man is the human condition… and in all of them, certain characteristics which express not so much an individual personality as a particular relationship with the world."