A Different World

Some days I miss my son and daughter-in-law so much; it’s been a long time since they moved to Alaska. But they’re living the dream: our daughter-in-law is working in her field, literally and figuratively as a wildlife biologist, and our son is making money hand over fist, too. (OK, they’re also forced to spend it up there.)

They don’t have the luxury of shopping around for big-ticket items. Their shopping opportunities consistly mainly of flying to Anchorage and placing a bush order. That means they’ll pick out a bunch of stuff — usually fill their cart — and then fly home with filled bins. The rest of the order will be shipped out separately. What a pain.

As a born shopper, I’d find that very frustrating. Amazon refuses to send them some things, so our son has them shipped to our address, and then we resend packages up to Alaska. I have no idea what the criteria is for not sending some items. It doesn’t seem to follow any pattern our son has been able to determine.

That’s how remote they are, and that’s why we treasure their phone calls to us. We put them on speaker so both HighGuy and I can chime in. They have their phone on speaker, too, so we get to hear both their voices, as well as our granddog’s occasional barks.

It was on one of these last calls when Jason told us about a coworker. Jason works at Northern Air Cargo, one of the airlines that serves a large part of southwest Alaska. His coworker  and his wife have to depend on a car that was given to them by her employer to use.

The car has been used as a police car and a taxi, so I can imagine how beat up this car must be. He said that it doesn’t even need a key to be started, and they don’t lock it up because that would be more trouble than it’s worth.

No one locks car doors in Bethel because they don’t want anyone to break your car window to get in. Can you imagine the hassle of trying to get something like a car window fixed? I don’t think they have body shops on every corner in town, or even a Safelite franchise. One of the reasons our son and daughter-in-law bought a Jeep was because most of the repairs could be do-it-yourself.

Jason told me that this car had been stolen — twice. And recovered both times. That’s because the roads in town don’t go anywhere. Literally. There aren’t any roads that lead into or out of Bethel, Alaska, so you can’t grab a car and take a joy ride to Juneau.

I find that so funny. Picture this: You go out your front door and your car isn’t in the driveway. You call the cop, and he knows which car you’re talking about because he knows who you are. He’s spotted your car in the parking lot at the airport, so he’ll come pick you and drive you over there so you can take it back.

It hasn’t been taken too far, so it’s not out of gas. There’s really not that much to get upset about; it’s just darned annoying.




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