Ah, where’s the restroom?


The Pointer setting out for a cruise on Little Traverse Bay
[Photo credit: www.pointerboat.com]

A white clapboard hut sits at the edge of a green space a block away from the center of town. A man is mounting a red flag with the word “OPEN” that unfurls next to a permanent sign in black announcing “VISITOR INFORMATION”. I have a nodding acquaintance with him and know he has been working in the booth for a few years. Today I decided I would ask him why.

When I approached the window he announced with a smile, “You are my first visitor of the day”. This was followed by pleasantries after which I asked if I could interview him for a feature that I would be writing. He said, “yes anytime”, and we settled on 10:00 am the next day. “We’ll be busy tomorrow so let’s do it first thing”, he said.

The next day I arrived empty handed except for a small spiral notebook that made me feel like a cub reporter. Once inside the hut felt smaller. Dave sat on a padded rolling chair surrounded by racks of maps, booklets, and announcements with free information about the city and county. With no place to sit I stood partially leaning against the wall. “When did you retire?” I asked.

“About 15 years ago. I am now 83 and this is my fifth year doing this. Before that I worked for a while stocking at the Ace hardware and had a few other short -term jobs but this is the one I like best. Before that I did pretty much nothing and was getting bored.”

“What would you say is the best part of this job for you?”

With a smile he said, “Just getting out of the house to do something useful before Carol tosses me out because I was getting underfoot”. This was followed by the serious comment, “I like being able to talk to the people”, and with that he took a large notebook from a rack. “I saw 36 people yesterday and today being Saturday the number could get up to 50 or more.”

What is the most common question you get?” I asked.

“After where’s the restroom that would be what restaurant would you recommend? Before I answer, I ask them what kind of food they are looking for. We have several good coffee shops, restaurants with affordable menus for families and kids, and several fine restaurants in town and in the county. I also tell them about some things they might not find on their own like our prized cookie company that is on a side street off the beaten track, the huge breakfasts at the family restaurant that they might want to order and share, and the fabulous sandwich shop on main street.”

“I tell them about the tunnel of trees that leads to a picturesque general store and farther on a Polish restaurant filled with artifacts, and St. Ignatius Church built in 1885, and….

“What is your favorite attraction?”

“That would be the Pointer. It is an 86-year-old launch carrying 12 passengers around the harbor three times a day and if the crowds are bigger it increases to five trips a day. Everybody enjoys it, but I tell them they should make a reservation.”

Dave, who owned and operated his own business for 40 years supplying educational material to customers throughout the U.S. and in locations overseas, said emphatically, “doing something to keep my mind active was the most important thing I was looking for in a job and getting paid is just the icing on the cake”. My guess is he would do it for nothing.

By Savvy Senior

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