This essay is a re-run. It originally ran in the Ticket in March 2003. I’m going to see if Rick’s cartoon will show up in the blog if I copy and paste it. (It didn't)
It’s Monday, January 28, 2008, and life is good. Not much snow at our house, but plenty in the Northwest vicinity, and I am about to go up to Thriftway to load up on provender. Half and half and Pepsi for Rick in this case.
Stay warm, friends.
Island Legends: The Secret Ferry
A friend said to me today that I had promised my last column would be funny, and it wasn’t (it was about tornados), and it was about time I wrote something funny.
Noted. Before the tornado hit Vancouver I had planned to take that issue off and re-run the following column from about five years ago. So now I’m going to take this issue off and re-run this column, and I hope that it is funny to at least some of you. Here goes:
A few years ago, one Sunday morning, a Big Important Businessman was having brunch at Sound Food. His cell phone rang. He answered it, and received a Very Important Business Call.
He needed to get to an Important Business Meeting on the mainland. He went up to the hostess and asked, “What’s the quickest way to get off the island?”
The hostess told him to head north on the road outside the restaurant until he came to the ferry dock, and wait for the next ferry to arrive, and he should be able to get off the island in an hour or so.
The Big Important Businessman was distressed. An hour? That was much too long. He had Important Business and had to get to the mainland right away, and wasn’t there a quicker way to get there than the ferry?
No, the hostess told him, the ferry was the only way off the island.
“OK,” he said. “I know how things work in places like this. Where is the secret ferry?”
“The what?” asked the hostess.
“The secret ferry,” he said. “The one only you islanders know about, so you can get off the island any time you want to.”
The hostess was non-plussed. She explained that there is no secret ferry, only the public state ferries that come to the north and south end ferry docks.
The man refused to believe her. He insisted that there must be a secret ferry. She was concealing the information because we islanders were selfishly keeping it to ourselves and didn’t want anyone else to know. He was too smart to be tricked, he said. He wasn’t born yesterday, he said.
Finally, in exasperation, the hostess said, “OK, OK, you’re right. I can’t fool you. There is a secret ferry.”
He smiled in victory. “Where is it?” he asked.
So she told him how to drive down to Manzanita Beach.
He left, and did not return.
End of story.
A friend told me that story in the supermarket. She said she had heard it from the granddaughter of another friend of mine. I called the grandmother and asked her where she got the story, and she said it came from her son, Fred, who was working at Sound Food when the incident happened. Soon thereafter I ran into Fred and asked him about the story. He had been the cook at Sound Food that day, and yes, that is basically what happened, although he wasn’t sure if the hostess, whose name was Nanette, sent the man to Manzanita or to Point Robinson. He said that for a while after that the Sound Food staff joked about Bippies, or “Big Important People.”
This was a fairly easy story to track because I knew all the people in the chain of telling. I wanted to track it down because it sounded like an urban legend, but it wasn’t. It really happened.
You can check out urban legends at http://www.snopes.com/. Island legends are easier to trace. For example, I believe that the late Joe Chambers once set a middle of the night ferry-dock-to-ferry-dock speed record of 9 minutes. Friends were posted at intersections to prevent collisions en route. He wasn’t late that night.