The ferry to and from Horseshoe Bay is the pet peeve of us coasters and everybody has a handful of Ferry Tales. It’s like that Leonard Cohen song: ‘Everybody knows’ the ferry is never on time
usually overloaded when it finally shows, everybody knows.
I made it to ‘Grandma’s’ Pub just in time and Campbell, Camp as we all know him, was already seated and armed with a brew.
“I thought you might be late since you had to go into town today.”
“Strangely enough it was on time today but still I had an encounter of the ferry kind. Boy am I thirsty, that beer looks good.”
“The usual,” I said to Vicky, the waitress.
“We were standing in line at the terminal behind a group of obvious seniors. Grey haired, one gal with a walking stick, the other linking arms with her friend, the two old boys a bit confused and not in charge. They all were trying to follow what the pony tailed, gum chewing teller in her bulletproof cubicle wanted from them.
“Senior’s cards please,” she demanded, speaking into the amplified speaker, even though she was just a foot away from them.
The four customers she was addressing – two couples – had together lived well over 300 years, none of them a day under 80 or I’ll eat my ferry ticket.
Thrown into a woolly tither the men groped for wallets in their tweed coats with shaky hands while the two ladies dug deep into purses and one of them, the one with the walking stick, dropped hers on the ground, spilling pill bottles, glasses and stuff. Since none of them could easily bend down I quickly helped out and earned a thankful nod from the poor woman.
Meanwhile the teller chick impatiently drummed her fingers on the counter while checking her cellphone or was it her mirror image.
Finally after much clutching, searching and groping some ID was presented. The leader of the group of four, a bespectacled man with wispy white hair and large liver spotted hands counted only three tickets.
“There are only three tickets.” he pleaded in an agitated, shaky voice pointing out the discrepancy by waving the tickets at the teller.
“I only saw three senior cards,” came the snappy reply.
Well, that sent them all into a tizzy once more.
Who didn’t show their card? They all thought they did and the fumbling, and digging in purses and pockets started all over, this time at twice the frenzy.
Meanwhile the line-up was growing and so was my and Clare’s indignation and impatience. None of us could believe this embarrassing scene.
“Can’t she tell that the four people belong together,” Clare said with a nasty bite to her voice, not at all her usual calm self. I tell you Camp, this teller thought of herself as the omnipotent ferry police and was promoting some unusually high blood pressure in the growing lineup.”
Camp just shook his head, which didn’t do much to improve his Einstein hairdo. “What happened? Did you tell her how it is?”
“No, not me. After one of the ladies couldn’t find her seniors card and forked over the full fair Clare’s mood seriously escalated. “What’s wrong with you? Can’t you see that the four people belong together and not one of them is under seventy?”
“Follow the blue line,” the sourly teller said to the four seniors and then yelled: “next”, staring straight ahead into her computer screen, completely ignoring Clare. For once it was me who had to peel her off the ceiling before she caused a serious incident. This was not the Clare we know but there are two kinds of people that can cause her to snap: Bad, aggressive drivers and people hiding behind uniforms or minor positions of power. ‘I’m just doing my job’, is one of her red alert buttons.”
“Now I know why those tellers are in their bombproof cubicles,” Camp said, and sagely advised me: “That should teach you to stay on the coast and not go into the city.”
“Do we have time for another pint?” I asked. It was a rhetorical question.
“On the other hand,” I said, “the daily delays are not always the ferry’s fault. Last week two Asian women who didn’t speak a work of English lost their car on the ferry which prompted the captain to initiate a terror alert, assuming the abandoned car was packed with explosives. The alert was aborted at the last minute when a deck hand found the two confused women wandering around on the top deck. This incident caused a half hour delay for the rest of the day.”
“Yeah, no wonder the terminals are fenced in with razor wire like a gulag and it’s now a federal offence to disobey the ferry personnel’s orders.”
“It’s supposed to make us feel more secure.”
“As if fences, walls and uniformed guards ever made anybody feel more secure.”
“Security means to be able to drink a few pints in a public house and be left in peace.”