B.C. Ferries, COVID-19, and the limits of human intelligence

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      This column is dedicated to all the B.C. Ferries workers who do their best to remain pleasant in the face of human stupidity.

      I was a B.C. Ferries passenger this week—it was the first time I had decided to travel since the pandemic was declared on March 11, 2020.

      Even though I've had two vaccinations, I brought along my KN 95 mask.

      That's because I've read the news reports about a small percentage of vaccinated people still winding up in hospital with COVID-19.

      I didn't want to be added to that total. Not only that, I don't want to pass COVID-19 to those who weren't vaccinated.

      In planning my short jaunt to the island, I made a reservation to travel on a Thursday (July 29). As a longtime B.C. resident, I knew that Friday (July 30)—going into the B.C. Day long weekend—would be a madhouse at the Tsawwassen ferry terminal.

      Also, I suspected that on Friday (July 30), so many people would want to get away that the terminals would be jammed with cars. I half-expected that it might not be possible to get onto the tarmac, even with a reservation.

      I also planned to return on an "off day" to avoid the same problem getting back from Vancouver Island.

      To put it charitably, it's not too bright to show up at the Tsawwassen ferry terminal in a car on a Friday going into the B.C. Day weekend without a reservation.

      To do this in the midst of a heat wave—minus a booking—is asinine.

      But many still chose to do that, including, I suspect, some longtime B.C. residents who should know better. As a result of their foolishness, these folks had to stay on the tarmac in the blazing sun for something like seven hours.

      Police had to be called to deal with massive traffic at the Horseshoe Bay terminal.

      Who in their right minds would put their kids through this? Or their pets?

      The media coverage made them appear like victims and painted B.C. Ferries as the problem. And the ever-so-patient B.C. Ferries spokesperson, Deborah Marshall, had to explain once again that the Crown-owned company only has so many vessels and so many crews to cope with the demand.

      I fully realize that it's a tradition in coastal communities to complain about B.C. Ferries. And there are good reasons—the high fares, the cancelled sailings in rough weather, the slow speed of the vessels, and the very rare times when one of these boats crashes into a dock.

      In addition, B.C. Ferries has been tardy in adapting to the climate crisis in comparison to other ferry operators. While some ferry companies were switching to battery-operated electric power to protect the planet, B.C. Ferries' climate solution was to examine using liquefied natural gas in a sop to provincial politicians.

      But having to wait for hours on the busiest weekend of the year because you didn't make a reservation doesn't strike me as something that should be blamed on B.C. Ferries or its beleaguered employees.

      SFH's 2020 punk song "Mask It Or Casket" sums up the consequences of human stupidity.

      COVID imbecility

      Here's another example of passenger stupidity. B.C. Ferries recommends that people go into the air-conditioned terminals to avoid the heat.

      But when I did that, I was stunned to see huge crowds of people in fairly close proximity, the vast majority of whom weren't wearing masks. 

      It felt like being inside Rogers Arena at the concessions between periods in a hockey game. I got the hell out of there. Being outside in the heat was less of a threat.

      Even though B.C. Ferries recommends that people wear masks on the ferries, I estimated that about 80 percent of passengers on my Thursday sailing refused to do this. More lunacy.

      I felt sorry for Vancouver Island residents, who've fared better than their Lower Mainland counterparts when it comes to avoiding COVID-19.

      It was obvious to me what will unfold in their communities in about two weeks as a consequence of all these mask-spurning ferry passengers visiting.  

      I also had sympathy for B.C. Ferries staff, particularly those who might be immune-compromised. I knew that the maskless passengers didn't give a damn about their welfare.

      On the same day that hordes of people were waiting at the Tsawwassen ferry terminal, Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, warned that Canada is heading toward a "Delta-driven fourth wave".

      It will mean more business closures, more people thrown out of work, more hospitalizations, and, yes, more deaths. And it's because too many people refuse to get vaccinated and refuse to wear masks indoors or on B.C. Ferries.

      They're tired of covering their mouths and noses. We hear this constantly. On FOX News, I witnessed a panel discussion where all five people were decrying this as an attack on their freedom.

      Poor babies. I wonder how they would have fared in Britain in 1940 during the Blitz, when people faced far more onerous challenges than having to simply put on a mask indoors and remain two metres apart from strangers.

      If they or any of their loved ones wind up in hospital because of COVID-19, perhaps they'll come to realize how selfish and inconsiderate they've been in their refusal to make a tiny sacrifice for their neighbours' well-being. That includes those neighbours who have to live with cancer, cardiovascular diseases, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and many other health conditions.

      Workers who've had to keep slogging through the pandemic, like those on B.C. Ferries, already face enough risks on the job without having to worry about the imbeciles that they have to deal with on a daily basis. To give these people a break, just put on a damn mask where it's recommended.