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The morning I went to meet David Pike, I understood why he does what he does. I live in Brooklyn, and in order to get to his apartment, I had to take a subway to a PATH train to New Jersey’s light rail line …
… to a Lyft from the Danforth Avenue Station. It wasn’t cheap, and it took awhile — almost two hours.
When I got to David’s I couldn’t help but notice that his building looked like a hotel. When we spoke on the phone, he said I could shadow his workday from around 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.. These two thoughts made me wonder if David’s whole life was like a vacation.
So, what kind of guy jet skis to work anyway? As you might’ve guessed, David seems like an incredibly chill person. He even tried on his wetsuit for me to take his picture since he won’t have to wear it in the water for another month or so.
For now, he just wears this wetsuit-like jacket over his clothes when it’s chilly out.
I knew David had his own company — New York Trolley Company — but I had no idea what his day-to-day was like. Needless to say, I was a bit shocked when I asked him to lay out all the items that he would take with him, and there was no laptop, no chargers, and no documents of any kind — just a little fan and some tools.
Most people check the weather before leaving their home each morning, but David also checks wind speeds and directions for his morning commute using an app called IKitesurf.
David’s apartment building is less than a five-minute walk from the dock where he parks his jet ski.
As we approached the dock, David said his jet ski was the one on the end.
I assumed David would have a waterproof phone case, but he doesn’t need one. The front compartment of his jet ski keeps all of his things dry.
It was big enough to fit my backpack and David’s backpack.
This is everything David and I brought with us to Brooklyn — two backpacks, two life vests, two fenders, and some rope.
Fenders keep his jet ski from getting dinged up on the dock.
The jet ski can hold three people safely, and the seat is comfortable.
David spent about $1,000 on his jet ski, and it costs him $60 a gas fill-up every two weeks. Before jet-skiing, David spent $18 a day on his commute.
David started jet skiing to work in April 2019.
After I suited up, David offered to take my picture before we got out on the water.
First, David had to pull the jet ski off of the ramp and reel it in with an attached rope.
David got on first …
… and took the jet ski out for a quick spin around the harbor.
Then, it was my turn to get on. I was a tiny bit nervous, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t show it.
It wasn’t scary, though. I thought I would feel like I was about to fall off the whole time, but I didn’t …
… and even when we started to go faster, I was relaxed and having the time of my life.
It was pretty cool to see the New York City skyline start out appearing so small …
… and appear bigger and bigger as we drove toward it.
See also: Apply here to attend IGNITION: Transportation, an event focused on the future of transportation, in San Francisco on October 22.
At one point during the trip, David turned to me and said: “Wanna swing by the statue?”
He was referring to the Statue of Liberty, and as you can tell by this photo, I said yes. This made me think about how even though I live in New York, I don’t go out of my way to experience it the way David does.
We slowed back down as we got closer to the dock in Brooklyn.
When we arrived, David held onto the dock as I disembarked the jet ski first.
Then, he began to tie his jet ski to the dock.
David removed our belongings from the dry compartment …
… and we put our life jackets in the same compartment before leaving the dock.
David works in Red Hook — a Brooklyn neighborhood known for its industrial seaside vibe.
When I saw David’s office, it all started to come together.
As previously mentioned, David owns the New York Trolley Company, and his offices are his trolleys.
David deals with paperwork at home and commutes to Red Hook about three times a week to clean and maintain his vehicles.
After about three hours of work, David heads home for the day.
David docks his jet ski where his trolleys are parked, so it’s not a far walk.
Back at his parking spot, David unties his jet ski from the dock …
… and puts his things back in the dry compartment.
The ride back started out slow because the waves were bigger than they were on the way there …
… but we sped-up about halfway through the ride and I swear I felt like I was flying …
… until we arrived back at the harbor in Jersey City. I asked David how long he plans to continue this jet-ski commute. “Forever,” he says.
I told David his lifestyle was pretty tempting, especially considering the square footage of his apartment compared to my Brooklyn apartment.
David jokingly replied with something about there being openings in his building. I chuckled a bit — that’s something you’d never hear in Brooklyn.
When we got back to Jersey City, David secured his vehicle …
… and put his life vest in a chest on the dock.
He then covered his jet ski to protect it from UV rays.
On my way home, I decided that having wet feet was a small price to pay for the day I’d had. And when I was on the light rail headed back to the PATH train to the subway, there’s one thought I could not shake …
… I’d rather be jet skiing.
I spent the day with a New Jersey commuter who rides a Jet Ski to work, and it changed the way I think about my week