49 Voices: Don Allen on the MV Columbia

This week we’re hearing from Don Allen aboard the ferry, the MV Columbia. Allen has been the officers board and room steward there for 14 years.

Listen now

ALLEN: Why am I here? It’s because we love the job. That’s number one. Not just board and room steward. We take care of the officers’ quarters upstairs, make sure their bed’s made, hall stock, head’s clean. Take care of their public areas. Then I take care of the public areas for the crew down below. Showers are down the hall, I make sure those are all clean. The linen lockers are all stocked up. Break room’s habitable. Laundry room’s not gonna catch fire. That’s what I basically do.

You do do your work all on one week. We’ll do an 84-hour work week, and then, we’re off for a week. So, you have time to pursue your other interests. I’m a firefighter and EMT with Capital City Fire and Rescue in Juneau. I’m a grandfather. I love to hunt and fish. That’s why I came to Alaska. And I’ve got a dachshund. So that’s a pretty full plate right there. On board right now we have military that are leaving Alaska from going off to a different station. We’ve got several retirees on board. Before we hit Juneau, we were wall-to-wall packed with high school. Paint us yellow, call us the Magic School Bus.

One of my jobs in case of an emergency is to hunt for lost kids. I try to get face to face with every kid on board, get them to know that I’m friendly. We had a young lady who had lost her mother this morning. Just take her to the purser’s counter, page the mom, give them something to play with behind the purser’s counter. I let her help me empty the trash, til mom and dad get’s with them.

If you want to know what you’re doing in the morning when you wake up, go somewhere else. If you want to have an interesting time and you’re willing to stretch out and grow, come here. I’ll teach ya. We’ll train you.

Dave Waldron began his radio career in 2000 as a volunteer DJ at UAA’s radio station KRUA 88.1, where he hosted a weekend music show. In 2004 he was hired as the station’s music director, and held the position until his graduation in 2007. He was hired by Alaska Public Media in 2008 and since then has worked as an audio engineer, editor, and producer. He currently runs his own small business AK Audio Pro, and is a host of Alaska Public Media’s Hometown, Alaska.

Independent producer Vikram Patel works full-time for the Municipality of Anchorage Parks and Recreation Department. In his free time, he volunteers for local storytelling program Arctic Entries and produces "New Arrivals," a profile series on KSKA about newcomers to Anchorage.

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