Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Slow Week in Ferryland

At the end of every day, we mark the total number of vehicles on a list, which is then totaled and averaged at the end of the month. Patterns pretty quickly emerge: Monday and Tuesday are the slowest days of the week, no matter if it's summer or fall. Traffic starts to pick up Wednesday, with Friday and Saturday being the busiest. In the fall, when the Beavers or Ducks have home games, Saturday traffic can be hectic.

The other pattern that is emerging is simple: bad weather means fewer cars. This week, especially Tuesday, the weather was foul. Huge winds, gusting around 45 miles per hour. Massive rain. If I needed to get from point A to point B, I would opt for dry land rather than the ferry. It's not a problem with the boat, I'll get you across the river no matter the weather, I think it just scares people off.

That being said, on Monday and Tuesday both, I had 28 cars. 28. That's 2.3 cars per hour. It's dreadful. Numbers have been steadily falling since early October. October 1 was when the ferry used to close for the year (though someone else said it was the 31st. not sure), so some people still assume we're closed. Plus, the farmers aren't going back and forth as much. It used to be, I'd get a whole host of regulars, farming people, who'd live on one side and work on the other, on pumpkin farms, wheat fields, blueberry farms. Plus, their machinery would need to be moved back and forth.

Now, it's just a small handful of regulars plus the people who get lost following their GPS. Last week, I had 34 and 31 cars. I thought that was pretty bad. I think 28 is a record. Of course, it was a holiday week plus terrible weather, but still. I think this is the norm for now.

The regulars keep asking if the hours are going to change for the winter. I wish I knew. I've heard so many rumors, reduced hours, closed certain days of the week, closed for the winter, that I just don't know what to believe. I thin it's all under consideration. But bureaucracy moves at a snail's pace. If I made the decisions, I would most likely keep the ferry open 5 days a week, (wednesday through sunday), and reduce the hours to 8 or 10 hours a day. that way you could have one operator do the whole thing, the other operator would work in the shop or something. But honestly, while that sounds good for the boat, it wouldn't be good for me. Either I'd work an insanely long week with only two days off, those days being both weekdays, or even worse, I'd be in the shops. Which ohdeargod I don't want.

I'm nervous about what's going to happen. I don't want to be stuck in the shop for any longer than I have to. My boss likes me, and he likes having me around, and I know he does what he can to keep me happy. So I'm sure he's got a list somewhere of computer related things he can have me do. The toll taker on the WL has a list of stuff she and I can do when both ferries close for high water, things that keep us inside and as clean as possible. Otherwise, in cold wet February weather, we'd be out on the ferries, painting, greasing things, repairing parts. No fun.

This being Thanksgiving eve, I will say that I am more thankful than words can express that I have a job, especially such a well paid one. The other evening, I was sitting in the cabin, watching a movie on my ipad, knitting and drinking tea, and I just started chuckling at the absurdity. I get paid an awful lot of money to sit on a boat and do what I'd do at home for free.

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