If you’re a fan of the ‘lost at sea’ #longread (AND I KNOW YOU ARE), you’ll like Paul Tough’s latest in the NYTimes Magazine. Last July, Montauk fisherman John Aldridge fell overboard into the Atlantic Ocean while the rest of the guys on his lobster boat were asleep. These stories are always gripping, but I think this is the best in a while.
In the weeks after Aldridge’s rescue, I talked to several local fishermen on the docks about the search, and not only did they all admit that they cried when they heard the news that Aldridge was safe, but most of them teared up again, despite themselves, as they were telling me the story. It was hard to say what, exactly, was bringing them to tears. But what seems to go mostly unspoken in their lives is the inescapable risk of their jobs, and the improbable fact that Aldridge hadn’t drowned in the Atlantic somehow underscored that risk for them even more. He’d kept himself alive in a way that few people could, had managed to think and work his way through a situation that, for most of us, would have been immediately and completely overwhelming. And he’d willed himself to live. To be a fisherman and to really know the danger of the sea, and to think of Aldridge in the middle of the ocean for all those hours refusing to go under — maybe that was too much to contain.