I found myself with a few hours to spare in San Diego last night.
Knowing that my friend Eric Bender was rowing,
and would be moving soon to Northern California,
I decided to drop in on The Gondola Company
and visit with him between cruises.
I hung around the office for a few minutes
before venturing down to the docks.
Some of Giuliana Longo's masterpieces hanging on the wall.
Finding a good vantage point on the docks, I watched gondolas glide by as the final colors of the setting sun illuminated the horizon.
Not long after, Eric cruised by with a happy couple on board.
The gondolier helped his passengers out of the boat,
and they were on their way up the ramp to whatever their next engagement might be - relaxed and happy as only a couple can be after a sunset ride in a gondola.
Eric and I chatted a while about "just how great this job is" and the benefits of dealing exclusively with happy clients in a positive setting.
He told me about his future plans and then he was on his way once again,
this time with four passengers, for a twilight cruise as the stars came out.
The gondola world is populated almost entirely...
with remarkably great people.
I don't know if it's because they are drawn to the job,
or if the job transforms them into fun-loving and positive versions of their former selves.
I will miss Eric, but I know that we'll see him again.
After all, you can't stay away from this kind of thing for long.