about an hour before it got dark.
Ever the host, Tim was on the phone giving directions to someone who was on their way. Tim's young son and a few friends of the same age were chucking bocce balls around on the grass, and I noticed a number of new, and very young faces.
Tim has a fresh crop of new gondoliers, who are big on energy and have the kind of enthusiasm that works so well in this unique job we do.
I overheard Tim say to a couple of these guys:
"As soon as Grant gets here, you guys get to ro-sham-bo to see who gets to take the seven o'clock".
It's a minor inconvenience when you book a cruise on the night of a gondolier's party, but hey, it pays the bills.
And besides, we all got to watch The newbie board and depart,
then arrive and dock...in front of his boss
(and a whole bunch of seasoned gondoliers from his and other operations).
No pressure here.
Sixteen-year-old Mitchell Smith was the lucky winner.
He walked his couple down to the boat, boarded them gracefully, and even took a moment to snap a few photos for them with one of their phones.
"Ok folks, smile!"
After getting his couple to smile for his photo, Mitchell smiled for one of mine.
He positioned Sunset Gondola's Red Gondola...
...and stepped off the dock like so many California gondoliers like to do.
I'm not sure, but I think this move comes from "surfer's intuition".
For the next hour. Mitchell rowed his passengers, enjoying the night air,
and probably worrying about how his docking would go.
As it happened, I was standing right next to Tim at the rail as the boat came in, and he proudly pointed out to me how well his guy was doing.
It was a good docking...and a great night.