Tuesday, March 27, 2007

New Job

I have a new job, which is one of the reasons I haven’t been blogging much lately. You see, I’m working part time for a CPA, and it’s tax season.... So the job hasn’t been as part time as I’d originally thought, but, since they’re happy to pay me for the extra hours, I’m perfectly willing to be there.

I am also the third Melissa in the office, which has entailed boundless confusion, and too many repetitions of “Yes, this is Melissa, but not the one you’re looking for.” Being Melissa S. doesn’t help, as the accountant Melissa is also Melissa S. There’s an accountant named Scott, too. I’ve fallen back on Mel, but that seems not to be helping all that much.

The best part about the job, though, is the view. I have a tiny office at the back, which I share with the paper waiting to go to the shredders, but it has a picture window that looks out on Islington Creek and across the highway to the dock where the salt ships tie up (that’s road salt), and beyond that to the Piscataqua River and the Memorial Bridge. This may not sound so great, but the Creek is full of ducks and gulls and (lately) swans. And I love ships, and I have a clear view of the main channel

A ship on the river is an impressive sight. First the Memorial Bridge goes up — it’s the kind of drawbridge where the central span rises in a single piece, so you hear the warning horn, and then watch the road start to rise. Mostly, it goes up a little less than halfway, just enough to let the fishing boats through, but if the tide’s high, I keep looking, hoping for a big ship. If I’m lucky, the bridge doesn’t stop, but just keeps rising, until it’s perched at the very top of its towers.

Then I start looking for the ship. If it’s coming downriver, I won’t see it until it’s almost at the bridge, my view being blocked by the scrap pile (scrap iron is another big product here), but if it’s coming upriver, into port, I can often see the top of its superstructure over the roofs of the downtown buildings before I see the hull.

The river channel is a difficult one. To make it under the bridge, the tankers have to swing almost over to the Maine shore, right against the Navy yard, and then make a huge, sweeping S-turn that takes them under the raised span and into the deep channel on the New Hampshire side of the river. All the ships are attended by tugs, the Moran tugs that dock on Ceres Street in the middle of the tourist district, and the tugs seem to communicate by hooting back and forth, so that the ships’ progress is accompanied by their atonal music. A ship coming upriver is nudged around the first part of the S and lined up for the bridge, which from my point of view means she’s absolutely bows-on to me as she comes through the bridge. In the afternoon, the shadow from the bridge hits the top of the superstructure, pointing up just how big these ships are. And then the tugs hoot again, and the ship swings, ponderous and fast at the same time, until it’s broadside to me and solidly in the channel, and it churns on up the river and out of sight behind the scrap pile. They move astonishingly fast for something that big, and yet you can never be in any doubt about the sheer mass involved. It’s a spectacular sight, and one that I can’t imagine getting tired of. It’s one of those little extras that make a job worthwhile.