There’s a note waiting for me on the desk back in the office of my coffee shop, Foggy Bottom. It’s a name and number. I get lots of those but this one caught my attention and I stand there looking at it, trying to make sense of it. I ask Chad about it. He took the note and said the guy wanted me to call him back. The name on the note was Paul E—-.

Paul guiding on Rainier

Paul was one of the guides that took us up Mt. Rainier nine months earlier.What the hell could he possibly want to talk to me about? I called.

Paul answered out of breath. I caught him in the middle of running stairs in his apartment building getting ready to guide Denali in the Spring. There was the awkward, “So how ya been?” questions passed back and forth like we were old friends. We weren’t old friends and the pretense was painful.

Climbing Rainier, our group had several guides. My buddy Mike and I were roped up to Paul. We liked Paul. He was cool, realistic about our abilities, patient with the newbies. But as warm, fuzzy and heartfelt all that was, it was a business transaction at heart. We weren’t here to make friends.

When I got back to Dexter, MI and my coffee shop, I sent him a Foggy Bottom T-shirt and a pound of coffee I had roasted.

Paul got on with the reason for the call. He explained that in the climbing off-season, winter, he had taken a job crab fishing in Alaska on The Wizard, one of the boats featured on the hit show Deadliest Catch.

He was now back home again from crabbing and the show was in production getting ready for the season première in a few weeks. Nice story, but again, what the hell? This was all so out of the blue and surreal.

Paul went on to explain that he’d worn the T-shirt I’d given him the entire crabbing season. The producers needed my permission to show the logo on the shirt, otherwise they’d have to blur it out. He gave me an email to send my permission to and we said our good-byes. I sent the email.

Well of course I was excited.I watched every minute of every episode of Deadliest Catch that season, but Paul was only shown briefly twice. My T-shirt never made it on camera. And this was incredibly disappointing because for a coffee shop and the world’s deadliest profession, I had the perfect slogan:

My friend Jeff modeling the T-shirt at Lone Star Geyser in Yellowstone

“Life’s Short. Stay Awake.”