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San Juan Island Ferry

San Juan Island Ferry

The Ferry Line
posted 03/23/2010
M.E. Rollins

Waiting in the ferry line in Anacortes, I’m sitting propped up on pillows and blankets in the back seat of my car, knitting. It’s a beautiful Spring day. I’m happy to say I don’t have cancer or anything like that, but I did get some news from my doctor I did not like, ironically having to do with my hearing. I hate poetic justice when I deserve it. I knew I should have thought of something other than good hearing to use when writing about good signs in a prospective mate.

A carload of teenage girls are laughing, yelling, generally carrying on at maximum volume one car back in line. Fortunately, I can’t hear them quite as well as I thought I could. Getting annoyed, but with the sun turning the car into an oven, I roll the windows down a little to get some fresh air, trying my best not to be in a bad mood. What would Byron Katie say about how I’m thinking about my life right at this moment? Then, suddenly, I simultaneously hear and feel SPLAT!

My window is down no more than two inches, I swear. And yet, somehow, a bird has managed to take direct aim right through the open window, hitting the blankets, the sleeve of my favorite shirt, and the inside of the car door. My reaction is instantaneous. An expletive erupts and shoots out the windows before I even notice who might be within earshot.

Continuing to swear to myself, I strip, right there in the ferry line, desperate to get out of my shirt. I am not laughing, this is not funny. I pull my jacket around me, only half attempting to cover up while carefully removing my arms from my sleeves, trying not to make matters worse. But I can’t help wondering, was it a seagull or a crow, and isn’t bird poop white?

After exiting my shirt, I don the jacket. I round up two unused paper napkins and do my best to clean up. A little gets on my hand which I carefully remove with the corner of a napkin. I’m squeamish about this kind of stuff anyway, but this is beyond gross. I make a pile of the soiled blankets and my shirt after using the sleeve to wipe up what I couldn’t get with the napkins. My mood is the color of bird poop.

At this point, realizing the bird might still be in the vicinity, I roll up the windows. I get out of the car, locking it, and make my way to the restroom to wash my hands and arms. The OCD part of me is sure a little of the mess has soaked through to my skin. Once inside, I take off my jacket, apologizing to the woman next to me who’s washing her hands. I blurt out to her what just happened, half laughing at the absurdity of it all. She laughs, and then in spite of myself, I laugh too as I continue exclaiming how disgusting it is. The nice young woman is saying “Eeuuww!” right along with me. As we talk and laugh, my feeling of exasperation begins to dissolve. And suddenly, with one last belly laugh, it’s gone.

Chuckling and feeling much better, I go back to the car, relieved to see there’s nothing to clean off the outside of it. That bird had good aim. Two lanes over, there’s an elderly man who seems to have lost his way. Just as I move toward him, the woman who was sitting in the car next to mine gets out of hers, and she’s already approaching him. She’s touching his arm now, they exchange words, then she heads back, assured he can find his way.

I pause a moment, watching the scene. Then, suddenly, the ferry line is moving. Racing around the car, I jump into the driver’s seat. There’s barely enough time to turn the key, put the car in drive, release the brake, and drive just fast enough to catch up. Inching onto the ferry, I follow directions, stop and set the brake. Upstairs the ferry is full but there’s an empty seat near the teenage girls. They’re having fun and I don’t mind. I pull out my knitting and sit back for the ride, smiling, ready to go home.

(source: http://www.sanjuanislander.com/columns/merollins/main.shtml)