Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Berth of Indignation
The belter and I spent almost the entire weekend on the Queen of Nanaimo. First on the midnight run to Saltspring (where we’d go to the fall fair the next day), then an early Sunday morning sailing to Mayne, followed by an afternoon trip back home. This last voyage was by far the sketchiest. Dad dropped us off at the ferry terminal, where we found a handwritten sign saying that the sailing had sold out. The ferry, we assumed, was already full of fairgoers leaving Saltspring, with no room left for us Mayne Island types. We ran back for Dad before he took off in the Volare, then joined the mob by the ticket booth. We considered backtracking to Victoria and sailing home from there, but eventually the crew of the Nanaimo and the unfortunate ferry corp. employees in the ticket booth reached an agreement on the radio and they started selling tickets.

When we got onboard, we had no option but to find some empty space along a wall and flop down on the floor. That’s not to say there weren’t any seats. It’s interesting to note the dynamics of personal space in a ferry seating area. It’s not like a bus where you might move your bag off the seat beside you to make room for another person. It’s not like a crowded movie theatre, where you don’t hesitate to ask if those two seats are taken. The nature of personal space on a ferry is very suburban, with people using their baggage to form buffer zones around them, pulling up empty seats to use as footrests, and similar tactics.

I guess it’s hard, on the trip back to the Mainland, for people to make the transition from the quietude of the islands to the close quarters of city life. The ferry is where that adjustment starts to happen, where we have to face the hell that is other people again. Unfortunately that adjustment doesn't translate into much action during the trip itself, which is why on a crowded, sold-out Queen of Nanaimo, only 1/3 of the seats have actual humans in them.

Or maybe it’s because people are just selfish bastards.

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