Transportation route

BC Ferries: Courage Under Fire

Living on an island means 3 things: lots of water, a laid back lifestyle…and ferries.  As someone who has many friends and family on the mainland, that BC Ferry ride (1 hour and 35 minutes) is a big part of my life.  Even more so these days because my work takes me to Surrey and Langley.

I usually just stay in my car rather than fight for a window seat or get in line for the White Spot restaurant (proof that yes, a captive audience will pay 15 bucks for a mediocre, diner burger).  But for this week’s festivities, I was treated to something special and this is before I even got on the boat.

The Order:
Last Friday night, after a day working in Surrey, I was planning on getting back to the island only to hear a fire broke out on one of the ferries.  The radio says 5 hour waits.  I thought I’d wait until Saturday…and so did about 1500 of my fine ferry friends.  I arrived at the ferry at 11:30am with full intentions of a long wait.  The radio had even said 3pm was my best bet.  I got the 4pm…home by 6:30.  Here’s the math: 7 hours.   I was in pretty good spirits but I can’t say I had a lot of company with positive thoughts of unicorns and creamsicles.  I actually heard more profanity in that queue than an episode of To Serve and Protect, Surrey Edition.

The Service:
Under the circumstances, very good.  My two encounters started with the ticket counter where I actually felt empathy, not sympathy, from the cashier.  She felt genuinely guilty and bad that she had to tell me I’d probably be waiting 4-5 hours.  Hard to get mad at her for that.

My second example was really a spectator sport.  The attendants at the front of the line ups had to field questions, complaints, and bile of prospective passengers.  Audio samples –  “You’re a f-ing idiot” (10 times, same woman), “When’s row # going to be on?” (89 times) and “I’m supposed to be at work right now” (personal fav at once).  I actually heard one attendant use a phrase I never thought would be uttered from a real person’s lips: “The mob is getting unruly.”  And he meant it.

Through all this tension, the attendants were calm.  I can’t say there were a lot of smiles but they answered what they could, apologized where they couldn’t and generally did their best.  I even heard ferry workers worked late into the night to make sure everyone got where they needed to go.

The Conclusion on BC Ferries:

Going steady – This could be the beginning of something major. Under extraordinary circumstances, and the anger of a mob (minus torches and pitchforks) I have to give kudos to the BC Ferry team.  Crappy weekend but you’re cooler than the Fonz.  (did that date me?)

Service Rating System:

Friend Zone – I just don’t like you in “that way.”
Booty Call –  If I don’t have anything else better going on, I’ll stop by.
2nd Date – I’ll give you a second chance.
Going steadyThis could be the beginning of something major.

*Visit “Rating the Upsell” for a better description.

The Tip:
No matter how angry the customer gets, you have to paint on the smile.  Nutjob McNutty is saying things about your mother and you have to take it.  Well some jobs you can hang up on them, but most you just have to be present.  A receptacle of the dissatisfied customer.  Walk away if you have to after and take a few minutes.  Regardless if the customer is right, has a point or is completely an ass (there are a few), you can’t take it personally and you can’t have their impact on you affect the next customer.


  • I’m happy to see that someone is giving props to those that have to deal with all the shit while having no control over the situation at all.

    In the future, I think that BC Ferries should have shrinks on retainer to visit irate car loads during unavoidable setbacks.

  • Good job BC Ferries!

    PS. Unicorns and creamsicles make me happy too!

  • Service this!

    A nice little piece to read about people doing a tough job well. Props tho them. I’m just wondering though, are you now sporting a cap emplazoned with “The Upsell” as you navigate B.C.s liquid Highways? Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’d rather ride in the Pilot House too…

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