Letters to the Editor

Ferry terminal workers quick to blame, slow to listen | LETTER TO THE EDITOR

To the editor:

Today I visited Bainbridge Island with my children. I got in line for the ferry to go home at around 5:10 p.m., at the intersection of Madison Avenue North and Highway 305.

I drove in the ferry-waiting lane on the far right side of the road, with all the other cars, from Madison Avenue down to Winslow Way. I got to the intersection at Winslow Way East and Highway 305 at around 6 p.m. and was waved through the intersection by an officer. Once crossing through the intersection I saw that there were now two lanes heading toward the ferry ticket booths and got in the left lane. A few moments later I realized I had made an error and got back into the right lane at the light on Olympic Dr SE, just before the ticket booths.

I pulled into the closest ticket booth lane, on the left. After paying for my ticket the man in the booth asked if I was the person who had cut in line. I was shocked and said I had not, that I had been in line for a very long time (“since north of High School Road” was what I sputtered out) and had made an error in getting into the left lane once on ferry terminal grounds. He clearly didn’t believe me, and said I could go through but would have to go to Lane 14 as a penalty for cutting in line. I again told him that I did not cut in line and he responded by saying I was “lucky to be getting on at all,” insinuating that he could keep me there all night if he wanted to. He then turned back into the booth and cut off the conversation.

I was shocked and followed traffic into the parking lot and was stopped abruptly by a female ferry terminal worker. She shouted at me “Don’t you know where Lane 14 is?!” I responded that, no, I did not. She told me to go to the far side of the parking lot because I had cut in line and this was my penalty. I was extremely upset by this time and asked if she could send someone over to talk to me.

After several minutes I got out of my car (which was parked in Lane 14) and was met by a woman who identified herself as the “supervisor.” She was annoyed, snapped at me to stop crying and asked me what was going on. I explained what had happened and she responded by asking if I was “confused by the state trooper” waving us through the intersection. I’m not sure if this was meant to be serious or sarcastic, but either way it was clear that she didn’t understand what had happened. She cut off the conversation and said I could move to Lane 10, which was closer to where I would have been had none of this happened, but it was clearly still meant to be a punishment.

I 100-percent understand that it was a busy weekend with the lavender festival and the pressure that it must put on the ferry system.

I also completely agree that cutting in line has to be policed and punished somehow. The problem comes when it is taken on the word of someone (a driver?) who perhaps only saw me get back into line but doesn’t know if I came from one car back or 50. I can see that it must have looked like I zipped in from Winslow or somewhere else, but I didn’t, and I wasn’t given the opportunity to explain the situation or given the benefit of the doubt.

And I certainly wasn’t shown any compassion or professional courtesy during the three interactions I had with ferry terminal staff. It would have gone a long way had the ticket booth attendant listened to my explanation or if the supervisor had made an effort to reconcile things.

It was scary to be in a scenario with state troopers and state employees, in an enclosed situation where my way home is held hostage. It was extremely upsetting and embarrassing to be yelled at and banished to the far side of the parking lot. Was it really so hard to believe that a mistake could be made during a stressful drive on unfamiliar roads? Especially with two restless young children in the backseat and hundreds of cars and pedestrians filing through the intersection? Is that how the booth attendant would want their daughter or friend or neighbor treated if they made such a mistake?

There has to be a better way for dealing with these types of situations than making split-second and callous decisions that can have such a huge impact on someone’s day.

NICOLE OLIVER

Seattle

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