Getting a Winning Call from the Steamship Authority

If you’ve gotten the call, you know how it feels. I had never gotten one before, so I didn’t know how I’d react. Actually, I had never even thought about how I’d respond.

When the phone rang on a cold, dreary, winter morning, I wasn’t expecting the call to be from the Martha’s Vineyard Steamship Authority. I assumed it would be from the furnace guy who was supposed to have been in my basement cleaning my furnace forty-five minutes ago.

“Hi, is this Kate?” a woman asks.

“Yes it is,” I say.

“This is Beth from the Steamship Authority,” she says. “I’m calling to let you know that you had put your name on the waiting list for a ferry reservation. You’ve made a match. You got the reservation on the ferry you requested.”

I suddenly feel like one of those women who gets a call from some radio station like 105.3 HOT FM and is told that they’ll win $1,000 if they name their favorite radio station.

“HOT FM!” the woman shrieks. And then she continues to screech, “I can’t believe it. I won. I won. Oh my gosh. I won.”

“I got on the ferry I want?” I ask. “This is so exciting,” I tell Beth. Then I’m one of those women. My voice quivers. I yell in the phone receiver. “Oh my gosh, I got it. I got it. I got it!”

I hang up the phone and prance around the house.

Then it hits me: I am suffering from Post Traumatic Ferry Reservation Disorder.

My elation over getting the ferry reservation that I want is excessive. Sure, it’s exciting to be able to leave the Vineyard when you desire, but to crumble in a heap of emotion is not a natural response. It’s the response of a woman who has been in the trenches.

There have been many occasions when I haven’t been able to get off or on the Island for an important appointment. There have been times when I had ferry reservations that I had to reschedule at the last minute due to illness and was told I had to either forfeit my reservation or jump through several flaming hoops. The most traumatic event happened a couple of summers ago. I had worked two separate computers and the phone all at the same time to get a preferred-profile reservation off the Island in August, only to discover when I arrived at the terminal that there had been a glitch.

“No, you don’t have a reservation,” the man behind the plexiglass told me.

“But look, here’s the printout from my computer.” Surely the piece of paper I handed him would grant me access to the ferry, no matter what his computer indicated.

“It’s not showing up here, and we’re totally booked up.”

“But I need to get off. Need to.” I tried acting angry. It didn’t work. I resorted to tears; that didn’t work either.

As I don’t want to jeopardize my future with the Steamship Authority, I’m not going to reveal the details of how, but I will say that I finally managed to get off the Island. Navigating the rough waters of the Steamship Authority is exhausting, and the cost of travel is oppressive. Sometimes I feel like I just can’t do it any longer, and I should concede defeat.

But then this happens. Beth from the Steamship Authority calls. I’ve made a match. It will all work out.

Thank you, Beth.