A Misty Isle of Ferries

  • Apr. 16, 2007 8:00 a.m.

By Jane Wilson-As I write this my in-laws are on their way to visit us. This is quite a step since the last time they came here the ferry sank while they were trying to leave which, understandably enough, made them a little less eager to plan another trip. I told them that since the worst has already happened they could plan a trip with no worries. At this point, the whole ferry would have to be sucked aboard an alien ship and all the passengers given unnecessary probing to make the trip worse then their last one. Of course, as of Friday night the ferry was stuck in Prince Rupert due to “technical difficulties”, which could mean things that I don’t want to think of too much, but I fear that the aliens are here and planning a new treat for my husband’s parents.
Fortunately, they now have the knack of travelling to the islands (the in-laws, not the aliens – thank goodness). The key to which is to have no definite expectations for departure or arrival (or aliens). It’s a zen learning experience where you must appreciate the journey and not try to control the outcome or be doomed to fail, or at least spend a lot of time in Prince Rupert being frustrated. You should avoid being frustrated in Prince Rupert, if just in sympathy for the poor Prince Rupert inhabitants having to deal with the twitching travellers on a regular basis. I imagine it’s what keeps housing prices in Prince Rupert relatively low, even with the new container port. Their streets are regularly lined with exhausted, unshowered travellers sobbing with frustration at being told to call BC Ferries back in two hours, every two hours. I can only hope that our weakened defences means that Prince Rupert businesses can move merchandise otherwise doomed for the half-price rack.
I think what really delayed the new ferry this past weekend was a deliberate ruse by BC Ferries management to keep our expectations low. My theory is that they are trying to make the passengers so grateful to arrive at all that they won’t complain anymore. I went to the Ferries website to see if I could find a secret mission statement to back up my hunch and what I found was a mission statement that reads “To provide safe, reliable and efficient marine transportation services which consistently exceed the expectations of our customers, employees and communities, while creating enterprise value.” Once I climbed back on my chair and wiped away the tears of laughter, I realized that they probably wouldn’t put a secret mission statement on the Internet, as then it wouldn’t be a secret (but “creating Enterprise value” has to have something to do with aliens).
The website also has a “commitment to customers” that claims “to provide a continuously improving west coast travel experience that consistently exceeds customer expectations and reflects the innovation and pride of our employees”. That seems fair; as our expectations are so low it’s almost impossible not to exceed them. I think that saying that the travel experience reflects the innovation and pride of the employees is just mean though, I generally like the Ferries employees and think that they deserve more pride than that, the union should complain.
Please email me at jane.wilson@hgqci.org if you have any ideas to update the BC Ferries mission statement, preferably in rhyming couplets. Remember, “Roses are red, violets are blue, nothing has changed, except the ferry is new”. Or perhaps “Roses are red, violets are blue, since BC Ferries stopped being a Crown Corporation the ferries have, literally, been run into the ground”, although maybe I need to work on that one.

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