Allie put the Orca in park and examined the front entrance to Cutler Sport Charters & Research. Tyler got out of the passenger seat and jogged off to take a selfie, making sure the logo on his polo was apparent in the shot and framing it to show the sign. The Florida sun was beginning to cast shade on the docks, but for now it beat down on her Wrangler’s custom paint job, black and white like a killer whale.
Tyler walked back over to Allie, who had finished texting her roommate Lexi and was looking over the place. Another car was pulling into the lot, but from the dock, not the road they’d used. A tall broad shouldered guy put a Chevy Blazer into park and pulled a duffel bag from the back. He was too tan to be a student, and although whatever was in his bag was obviously heavy, he slung it around with little effort. It landed with a dense thud near the front door to the Marina where he started working a lanyard of keys dangling around his neck into the door.
“Kinda wish he’d been late, I need to update this profile.” Tyler finished up and slung his bag back over his shoulder.
When the guy at the door turned around, he flashed one of the most welcoming smiles Allie had seen since leaving home. She couldn’t help smile back.
“I’m Rytin, are you two the interns from U of M?” He asked with such excitement Allie thought for a moment that if she hadn’t indeed been the intern in question, she would’ve considered lying.
“We are! Thank you again for allowing us this opportunity, we can’t wait to help out and represent the University any way we can!” Allie responded, while all three exchanged handshakes.
“Fantastic! It’s so great to have some Hurricanes on board, and when they’re as excited you guys seem to be, it makes everyone’s job that much better, I’m guessing you haven’t been in to meet Val yet?”
“We haven’t.” Tyler said.
Rytin grabbed his duffel and before Allie even noticed, hers as well and placed both inside the air conditioned front office.
“Ok, most of us are finishing up for the day so let’s have you two meet the lady in charge, and I’ll see you both tomorrow at the morning meeting.” Rytin clapped his enormous hands. “Great. Coffee is in the lounge but I’d recommend the Red Bull in the fridge.” He smiled broadly and walked out just as Val entered.
“Speak of the devil, here she is, Val, I’m off to see to the last of the Vestige’s fuel, see ya tomorrow morting?”
After introductions, Val went through the orientation with all the interns, about the history of her Father’s charter fishing business, how they’d partnered with the University for their research outreach, and how they’d be integral parts of their client’s experience.
“You know, at first our research efforts were basically letting grad students looking to work for the canneries tag along on the fishing boats. They got authentic data, and we got a nice tax break. Now we’re prouder than ever of the contribution we get to make, can you imagine trying to do outreach on that?” Val pointed to a faded picture on her desk of the first Fishing vessel Cutler Charters ever ran, and it didn’t scream comfort or luxury. “That old vessel served us well,” she pined, “but now things couldn’t be better. You young Hurricanes will have wireless mics and waterproof speakers so you won’t even have to scream over the wind and engines. Our recent sonar upgrades make even the most common fishing tour action packed, and if I’m being honest, the more impressive you kids are out there,” Val pointed toward the boats bobbing in the docks, “the better I do in there,” she now gestured toward the Marina gift shop, where the Bookings desk was, and where, conveniently, all clients checked out after their adventure.
As they headed to the front lobby where all the staff were already gathered, Val explained that every day they worked, they would gather in the front lobby for their boat assignments, at the daily morning meeting.
“The morting,” Allie thought. It wasn’t nearly as clever a mashup as she would’ve made it.
“We want the clients who book experiences with us to leave enriched by the thrill of their catch, and the education of that catch as well. You’re a huge part of that this season, and we welcome you with open arms and scuba fins!” The staff all cheered as the interns clapped.
Allie made her way to the appetizer table, thinking that if the “mortings” were called, “mor-eetings,” they’d sound like “more eating,” which was amusing to her as she perused the last of some fresh tuna that had been set out. She got the last piece as Rytin arrived.
“That blackfin fought particularly hard, I’m glad you got the last of it.” Rytin’s smile beamed in like a lighthouse.
“You caught this? Today? Wow, no wonder…” it hadn’t surprised her to find out that the fish was caught so recently and closely, but it was polite to make a little fuss. Rytin reacted like she thought he would, smiling even bigger, if it were possible.
“Well, not me. Client I took out today. But there is an art to the preparation of the platter, and I am responsible for that.” The charming smile relaxed a bit, and Allie sensed a little humility in him.
“The wasabi is my mom’s recipe.”
“It’s wonderful.” Allie answered.