Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ferry Classism

I'm sitting on a beat-up piece of crap ferry right now, because I'm taking the Bremertun route instead of Bainbridge. The sides of the boat are rusted, and lines of rickety, yellowed chairs line the main passenger cabin. With rough waters, I wouldn't be surprised if the chairs slid all over. It looks more like a Greyhound bus station than the immaculate ferry I'm used to. The galley is tiny and stifling hot, the benches short, and I can't find a power outlet anywhere.

This is a common complaint of people who ride the ferries. The Bremerton ferry is seen as expendable, since the people who ride it don't have the means or will to complain. I think the ferry system is worried about upsetting all the Bainbridge doctors and lawyers by taking THEIR boat out of service, by making THEM ride a boat that is in disrepair.

I also notice a surprising difference between the clientelle. I can tell everyone on the Bainbridge boat is professional, with expensive briefcases and suits. They all hold Starbucks cups and scan the newspaper beneath bifocals. Many have perfect hair and their fingers dance across laptop keyboards. Here on the Bremerton boat, people wear sweatpants that are too short, heavy makeup, and beat-up tennis shoes. Pencils scribble in notepads on tables; there aren't many computers in sight. They are probably mostly military, or hold trade jobs.

The only nice thing about taking the Bremerton ferry is the gangway, with new white cement and glass walls. It also has good beer, although hardly anyone on this boat is drinking.

I'm just amazed by the differences I see between these two routes. Why isn't everyone treated equally?


Lisa said...

Money, money money. That's the answer. It's expensive to live on Bainbridge. And lots of politicians and people in power take those ferries. Plus, the boats are frequently full. So good stuff goes there first.

I think, if you had never been exposed to the hoity-toity Bainbridge run, the Bremerton run would seem just fine.

Plus, the Ferry System's finances are in the dumper right now, so I'm betting they just can't afford the upgrades we'd all like to see.

- A - C - said...

A very good question. If you can spot the difference in common services like ferries, you can only figure it out how deep is classism rooted in our society.
The likely trend of a democracy is not to provide equal treatment but rather a tolerable difference... that bearable gap which makes those underneath to want a seat and, once they get it, to want no one else to have it too.

I'm a little cynical today.... sorry.
have a nice weekend

Travis said...

Ive actually never ridden the Bainbridge ferry only the bremerton and southworth...I guess I have always been one of those working class people...not worth a nice ferry in the eyes of the state

Dan-Eric Slocum said...

I had NO IDEA!!!!! Wow, you've totally enlightened me. I've just always assumed the best.

Now I know.

Thanks Kristin. I love hearing about your ferry rides because I can relate to commuting via transit.

Anonymous said...

It's the way of the world. Here is a very petty example. My boyfriend and I like to fill our 64 oz growler (which we first discovered in Seattle at Pyramid Brewing) with microbrew. So, one of the breweries we like is Lucky Lab. Their headquarters is in close-in SE Portland, a poorer industrial area, where we can fill our growler for $10.75. We were shocked to go to the Lucky Lab near his home near Multnomah Village and they wanted $14.50! "What's that about?" we asked. "Well, we charge more here because you live in an affluent area!" Arrrgh. We went back to Hawthorne and filled it there. (And Multnomah is, in my opinion, not affluent, but just middle class!) I have written to their headquarters to comment about this. (Paula)