As you are aware my commute includes a ferry ride,( See “Street Life”) which you would think would be a relaxing way to travel, but you’d be wrong. The morning commute is pretty painless unless I forget something and have to go back into the house. I’ve done this on more than one occasion and arrived at the terminal in time to hear the warning announcement that boarding is due to end to allow the boat to depart on time. Often I will simply not bother to go back for a forgotten item as missing the boat means being 45 minutes late for work. Also, the 7:20 sailing is commonly known as the “Slacker boat”, and I have no desire to be seen on that one.
I now spend the crossing walking around the sun deck, going up and down the stairs at either end in a feeble attempt to get some exercise and with any luck lose some weight. If you have to ask “How is that working out?” you obviously haven’t seen me lately. My main gripe is with the evening sailing.
I finish work at 4 p.m. and that gives me time to stop off at the library and still make the boat with time to spare. Lately, this has been the least of my worries. You would think that with no traffic issues, a crossing time that is easily met at much less than full speed and alleged cut off times for loading the boats would leave on time. But Nooooooo. For at least the last month, I have arrived at the terminal as late as 4:25 only to see the boat in the middle to far distance. How difficult is it to run on time? last week the boat left an astonishing 25 minutes late! Whisky Tango Foxtrot? Is it laziness, incompetence, a requirement to save fuel or the fact that they all have well paid union jobs? I hate to go all Lily Tomlin, but the ferry service motto really should be “We don’t care. We don’t have to.”
It would be bad enough in the winter but this summer has made things unbearable. Let me explain: We are not equipped for temperatures in the high eighties for weeks on end, and this is particularly true of the ferry terminal building. There is no ventilation other than one set of sliding doors leading to the boarding ramp which are left open and a side door to the outside walkway. This means that lining up in front of the turnstiles quickly resembles a visit to the world’s most prudish sauna as a couple of hundred tired commuters cram into an airless waiting area with too few seats. This is not the most relaxing way to end the workday as you can imagine, especially as most people arrive sweaty, tired and ready for home.
I choose to wait on the walkway which at least gives me some fresh air and occasional breeze but I still have to run the gauntlet once the incoming passengers have disembarked. I try to pick what looks like a fast moving line but inevitably end up in a line containing tourists, usually from the Midwest who regard public transportation as some form of socialism and only one step removed from a U.N. takeover of the United States. They are identified by their dull eyed, slack jawed, doughy faces which quickly take on a confused and befuddled demeanour as they fail to comprehend how to pass through the turnstiles. “There’s a bloody picture taped to the top of the machine showing you which way to swipe the ticket you moron!” I don’t actually scream this, but oh, how I want to. Sentences not taken directly from the bible seem to be beyond them, but surely they can relate the picture on the turnstile to the ticket in their hand? Presumably they don’t have ferries in Jesusland, or indeed any boats except for replicas of Noah’s Ark.
Eventually we are able to shuffle aboard and I head topside to continue my walk. I’m by no means the only person who does so, and most people amble along, taking in the view or chatting with friends. There is one exception though. He looks like a perfectly ordinary office worker, but once on the top deck he changes. I’m not sure what disturbs me more: the fact that he removes his shirt before he strides purposefully around the deck as if on a mission, or his pierced nipples.
The now routine lateness of our arrival means that I can no longer get to the post office before it closes. Not a major inconvenience as life goes, but enough of a pain to make it awkward for me to pick up any packages too large to fit in my P.O. box other than at the weekend. This is particularly galling at the moment as I’m waiting for a very important package: A starter motor for a jet ski I’m restoring.