Apr
12
The Purified Waterman

The guy arrived maybe half an hour early. I opened the door and he announced that he was from the purified water company, the waterman come to service our filtered water system. He was a young guy—early 20s or so—and looked every bit the surfer: tanned, fit, dark hair bleached by the sun, and board shorts. He carried a toolbox and a metal invoice case. “I hope I’m not too early for you,” he said.

I shrugged it off happily. The appointment window was 4 hours and I had begrudgingly assuming I’d have to wait until the last minute for someone to show up. “No, I’m actually a little shocked,” I said. “It’s sort of a cliché that the guy shows up as late as possible.”

“I’m trying to get done early,” the waterman said, sounding a little excited as he walked in the door.
I tossed off the first thing that came to mind after sizing him up. “Looking to catch the big swell coming in today?” I asked.

He looked at me with surprise. “How did you know?”

“Lucky guess.” I was looking forward to the same swell. I didn’t want to have to sit it out in my house waiting all day for the purified waterman to show up.

 “So I guess you surf,” he said, sounding like a kindred spirit of a different waterman variety. Even his voice sounded a little salty for a kid.

“Yeah,” I said in pretty much the same tone though perhaps aged a bit more by the twenty years I had on him.

 “Where about? I thought you might have looked a little familiar.”

“Harbor… Warm water… Carlsbad… all over really. Some buddies and I go to Mexico quite a bit.”
“Awesome.”

We ended up talking about surfing the whole time he was there. It was obvious he had the sea in his blood even though he said was a transplant from Iowa. He was crazy about the water from childhood. He had all the makings of a waterman—and it seemed a bit funny that water was his job.

“Oh, this job,” he said. “I guess I’m the all-around waterman. It was a toss-up between this or servicing swimming pools. I picked this because I think I’d have a hard time not jumping into the water all the time.”

I laughed. We talked a minute or two more and he was done.

“Well, thanks for being a valued customer… They want me to say that.”

“Well, I guess I’ll see you down at the beach a bit later.”

“Oh, yeah.”

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