December 1st was a cold blustery day, and our first day on the road for bus service. I was stopping whenever I saw a person on the road walking, giving them a ride. They would shake their heads in wonder, but decided they liked the bus. I stopped if someone was out checking their mail. I waved at everyone I saw, I loved my job!! It was like being in a parade! We wore white shirts with dark pants until our uniforms came in. I was driving through Langley smiling and waving at all the cars I passed, and they would all smile and wave back!! I decided that they were the friendliest of the people on the Island until I saw my reflection in the windshield and saw that my blouse was unbuttoned!!! OOOOPS!! It was a white satin blouse, and I guess all the motions of turning the big steering wheel loosened the buttons!! No wonder everyone was smiling and waving and honking!!!
The Routes went from Oak Harbor, down the Island through Coupeville, Greenbank, Freeland, Bayview, Langley and down to the Clinton Ferry. (about 45 miles). Then back up the Island. Along the way I would point out the Eagles, Deer, Raccoon, Coyotes, and other points of interest. I loved driving up and down this beautiful Island looking at the sights and getting paid for it too!! Life is Goooood!!
It was easy to find replacements for my bartending job if I was needed at the Transit. Also there were 10 people chomping at the bit to take my ambulance shift, so I made Island Transit my priority!! I worked an average of 36 hours a week for Island Transit, 24 hours a week on the ambulance, and about 30 hours at the bar. Not to mention all the calls in the middle of the night for the fire department. No days off!! I was 37 going on 38, no kids and living alone, so I worked a lot!!
My cat Squeakie died of liver failure in December. I was devastated!! I had her for 11 years and she was my best friend. She was always there for me when I came home from work to give me some lovin. She was all that I had for comfort. Christmas was hard. It was the first Christmas ever that I did not drink! I love Christmas drinks! Hot buttered rum’s, Tom & Jerry’s, Coffee Nudge’s, hot cocoa with Peppermint Schnapps, ahhhh. Our family would get together on Christmas Eve and have drinks and exchange gifts. We would take turns on who would get drunk and make a fool of ourselves on Christmas Eve. Well this year it wasn’t me!! (But I sure have had my share of turns).
Right after the New Years I was working on the ambulance and found a black & white cat at the ER. He was standing right outside the entrance in the frigid cold. I walked up to the door and as it opened he walked right on in the door. There were people there that were in a car accident and had their dog with them, and the cat walked right by them all, afraid of nothing!! I asked around as to who’s cat it was, and they said it was a stray. I picked him up and took him to my car. He sat in the back and when I took him home he was purring. People could not understand how I got that “wild cat” in the car!! I guess a lot of people tried to catch him and he would growl and run! He was a real pussy with me. I guess he knew where he was going to get spoiled the most!! I named him ER and he was my new baby!! I kept my kitchen window open so he could go in and out as he pleased because he was used to being an outside cat. He would bring me all sorts of rewards!! Mice, snakes, etc. Just ask my sister!!
My mentor, instructor for the EMT class, Deak Shields died of Lung cancer in January. He was 36 years old, a very healthy strong man. He was a Paramedic on the ambulance and picking up a patient in June he pulled a muscle in his chest. He was in the hospital in traction and he asked about a lump on his chest. Doc Z did a biopsy and then exrays. He found inoperable cancer. Deak was ridden with it. There was nothing anyone could do!! It was horrible!! Deak was in denial up until October when he started going down hill fast!! The entire community pitched in to help him and his family. He went home to die. We all were called to his house one night to say goodbye to him. I was working on the ambulance that night, and when he died, Doc Z put it on the air waves that Whidbey (I forgot his number) is 10-7!! We all broke down!! It was the saddest thing I have ever gone through!! Connie his wife and Bill his best friend was in the bed with him when he gasped his last breath!! Lung cancer is a horrible painful death!! Please, if you smoke try and quit!! Do it for yourself and for the ones you love!! Deak had so much to offer this world and he died because he smoked!! I smoked for twenty years and quit cold turkey April 19th 1984. I smoked three to four packs a day!! If I could do it so can you!!
More to come