It seems every episode of Grey’s Anatomy begins with a scenic ferry crossing. And, of course, that’s real. Seattle really does have a continuous flow of ferry traffic, taking passengers back and forth, either for work or pleasure.
Ah, the ferry system…and the word pleasure? Do not belong in the same sentence. In truth, riding the ferry is nothing short of torture. True, the ferry system does provide a means to cross a body of water, but if you find yourself needing to use it on a daily basis, as a way to get to work, then you will become a crazy person. You will begin each day with a prayer that goes something like this: “Dear God, please don’t let anything happen that will make me late for the ferry. And, too, if you could please not let anything happen on or around the ferry that could mean a delay of oh, say one or two hours, I promise to curb my swearing, curb my spending, and even curb my dog for at least the rest of this month.”
Okay, so how bad can it really be riding the ferry? Bad…Trust me on this. And here’s why…
If you don’t arrive at the ferry dock at least three minutes before sail time, you won’t be allowed to board. No matter if the ferry is only half full. YOU. WILL. NOT. BE. ALLOWED. TO. BOARD. Why? Because a while back, it was decided that in order to stay on schedule, all passengers (foot and car) must be cut off three minutes to sail time.
But let’s assume your morning is going swell. Your kids got themselves ready for school in a timely manner, your dog didn’t need an extra long walk due to the garbage he got into the night before, your neighbor didn’t ambush you in your driveway to tell you about her latest bout with kidney stones. All is really swell.
Not! Because you didn’t figure in that it’s ten degrees warmer than normal, which means an extra seventy-five cars are headed for the ferry to take advantage of the swell weather, beginning with a ferry ride! (And in my opinion, this would be a fantastic reason to ban all pleasure seekers from riding the ferry between the hours of five and nine on weekdays.)
Still, you’ve made it to the ferry and the line is moving. You’re hopeful. It’s going to be close, but your fingers are crossed and you’ve said another prayer.
It looks like you’re going to make it. They’re still boarding cars and it’s still five minutes until sail time. You haven’t been under this much stress since EVER! But you’ve got your antacids, so you should be fine.
Okay, you’re finally near the front of the ferry line. The ferry lady is smiling and waving cars on. You inch forward as the drivers ahead of you inch along. Only six more cars and you’ll be allowed to pull into the you made it, you lucky mother effer lane. Five cars, four, three…and then nothing. The inching stops. You actually throw up a little in your mouth because you know that if the ferry people don’t give the signal, you’ll be forced to wait another hour for the next ferry.
You watch and wait while the ferry lady talks to someone on her walkie talkie. Your stomach clenches, the same as when you’re holding your breath while driving in the snow.
Finally, after thirty seconds that seem like thirty hours, the ferry lady waves to the car two up from you. He’s on! Again, you’re asked to stop. Again, the ferry lady talks into her walkie talkie. She glances over her shoulder at the ferry. You don’t take your eyes off her. You don’t want to miss her wave, for fear the three-minute cut-off is drawing near. The car ahead of you gets waved on. Your head feels like it might explode. Every muscle in your body is tense. More walkie talkie talk. You say one last prayer…and glance down at your antacids.
The ferry lady looks at you. What’s she going to do? What the “eff” is she going to do? you wonder. You grip your steering wheel so tight your fingers go numb. Finally, the ferry lady holds up one hand and smiles and mouths, “Sorry.”
Sorry? Effing sorry? That’s all she has to say?
You feel like you’ve been kicked. You did everything right to get to the ferry on time. Your morning was perfect…except for those “effing” pleasure seekers wanting to go do something pleasurable…like take an “effing” ferry ride.
Just one more car…why couldn’t they allow just one more car? You crane your neck to see if there might be room, like you might be able to convince them to let you board. And there it is! One tiny patch of ferry floor. Your car isn’t overly big. You could fit. You could totally fiiiiiit! Why in hell can’t the ferry people see that? Why?
Because they’ve reached the three-minute cut-off. And your car really is too big.
You want to crawl out of your car and lay on the concrete and kick and pound your hands and feet and scream like a two year old. You don’t care who sees you. You don’t caaaaare! You waited your turn. You deserve to be on that ferry.
But it isn’t until you watch the ferry sail off that you begin to truly believe they’ve left you behind. And now you must resign yourself to another hour’s wait. Did you bring a book? It helps.
And now the idea that you’ll be the first in line for the next ferry makes you smile…a little. Even so, you know that you won’t truly be happy until you never ever again have to ride another ferry.
And don’t even get me started on ferry bathrooms…