My Job

Posted on August 2, 2010


My mind is just starting to drift into the disjointed, detached thoughts of sleep when I hear exuberant shrieks of delight echo down the walls of the canyon. I quickly re-close my eyes and try to mimic the slow breaths of deep sleep. Maybe if I pretend I didn’t hear them, then somebody else will have to-

“Emily, it’s all you.”

“Dammit, Jimi.”

I sigh heavily and grab the handlebars of my ski to pull myself to a sitting position. Dazed, I look around for my life jacket, pulling it around me before the guests round the corner.

“Hi guys, how are you doing?” I shout across the water, mustering a big smile and some fake enthusiasm, as the rafts emerge from behind the rocks, “Do you just have the three boats today?”

The guide returns my greeting, and shouts back a confirmation that reverberates across the water.

“Alrighty then, you guys get hooked up and we’ll be out of here.”

Basically, this is my job. The American River is a huge destination for whitewater rafting, and ends in the Folsom Lake. The takeout area for the rafts is about 2 miles after the current stops, and so the rafting companies’ high-paying and spoiled-rotten guests would have to paddle all that way across flat water.  That’s where I come in. We, my co-workers and I, hang out after the last rapid on Jet Skis, and, for a small fee, tow the rafts to the takeout point.

Those are the basics, and it sounds quite simple, deceptively so. There are 35 different rafting companies, and we have an exclusive contract with 30 of them. We have to get them organized, in a straight line, tell them how to hook up to each other, and tow them down, and if it takes too long, the river guides tend to get agitated. We also tow private rafts, groups of people who go rafting on their own, without going with a company. We charge them cash up front, which is a difficult transaction to complete while chasing an inflatable raft down on a Jet Ski, while fighting the current, and negotiating rocks and other boats.

All in all, its a pretty sweet gig, although it has its own unique challenges and tribulations, ones that people don’t always consider when they tell me I have the coolest job ever. Which happens, by the way, at least five times a day.

Posted in: BEDA