Monday, December 26, 2011

The Traditionalist.


We played on the ferry coming over yesterday afternoon, right after the shift change, outside, on the back deck behind the SeaWest lounge where the exclusives go to avoid the crowds and the bustle.

Not to mention the hoi polloi that paid for their bon-bons.

It actually turned out to be a beautiful afternoon with high cirrus, towering mini-squalls, and wind whipping through high and hard, and then gone.

We played right through the Islands into the oranging of the early winter sunset without a whole lot of folks to listen, but three true enthusiasts stayed pretty much right through and exhorted us on after pretty much every song.

Amazing, that, how complete strangers can make you feel so good when you make them happy for no real reason at all.


Because of the wind, the stand with the Book of Tabs (and the vaunted 'Set List') was out, so we fell back on old stand-bys.

E. absolutely killed on our mash of the Decembrists' 'Down By The Water' b/w Ms. Parton's 'Jolene', even if she was forced to sing it in my key instead of hers.

Then, I held on by the skin of my thin reed, as she wailed effortlessly through 'Fogtown/Hit The Road Jack' which, it turns out, can be fused seamlessly with 'Stray Cat Strut' if you do them all in 'F'.

How's that for a trifecta!



Despite my lunatic obsession with this musical thing, you might be surprised to learn that, I do try my best (most of the time) not to push it on people.

Especially people I know that have to put up with me every day.

Like the people I work with.

So I was a bit surprised a couple of weeks ago when this shy kid who works in a lab down the hall knocked on my door and asked me if I had a minute.

Thinking she was going to ask my advice for getting Englebreth Holm Sarcoma-derived matrix to gel, or some such thing, I almost blew her off for that particular moment because I was trying to get my final exam marking done on time (for a change).

But I didn't.

And instead of going into science geek speak she asked be something very simple and direct, which was:

"Are you going to play your guitar at the Christmas party?"

I was floored.

I stammered for a bit and then tried to explain that Emily was still off at college.....

And that I didn't want to impose....

And that I hadn't rehearsed...

And that, well, you know, on my own I'm really not very good at all, and all that...

But she, this kid who had hardly ever said boo to me before, insisted.

"Why?" I finally asked.

"Because," she finally blurted, "It's a tradition!"



Did I play?

Are you kidding?

Speaking of traditions...


Anonymous said...

It's funny how that joy thing works both ways. I can't count the number of times I've been rushing along the street, preoccupied with something that seems important, and I come across a busker, and I stop for a minute to listen to the music, and my whole day shifts, and I feel happy and human again. It's nice to know that sometimes buskers feel the joy too.

Now, let me very politely object to your reference to the Seawest lounges on the ferries as the kingdom of the elites, though. Lots of regular folks use them for lots of reasons, including a respite for disabled family members, often elderly parents. For one of my friends, it's the only way she can transport her old mom, who gets confused by noise and lineups, to Victoria in any comfort. My kid is autistic and often bugs out over the noise and crowding on the main decks, the lighting and clanking in the cafeteria, sometimes even the yelling or swearing from a totally normal group of teenage kids just doing what kids do. I can take him into the lounge for $12 each, which is a whole lot but at least manageable, and he has total peace and quiet. Not so much as a cellphone allowed. He can eat his weight in free fruit and cheese and obsessively make himself one cup of peppermint tea after another (we get our money back in free coffee and tea and newspapers). He can always find a carousel for his computer. And I can relax over a free newspaper and coffee and not worry about him for three hours... so yeah, it's a total luxury and we're lucky we can do it on the rare occasions we can afford a ferry trip (the real issue, high fares!). But we're not elite by any means. He lives off a disability pension, and to him, this is a moment of sheer luxury, and sometimes he says that to me, that "this must be what sitting in first class is like", and it brings me to tears every time. Honestly.
I know what you mean by what you said, and if it was $75 a pop to get in, I'd agree.
Sorry, just felt like sticking up for my kid, in case anyone ever watches him walk in that lounge door and curls their lip at him. Or resents him for the bon bons. His $12 covers them. He's paying his own way.
You seem like a good guy, RossK. But that one made you sound kind of mean.
And I know you're not.
I wish there was a similar quiet area of the ferry without an admission charge that we could be sure of finding every ride, but there isn't. That part is a genuine shame. And I would agree with you if your argument was that there should be. Lots of folks can't cope with lots of life, and in some areas we recognize that, and where we can, we accommodate them. Loud transport doesn't seem to be one of them, maybe for a good reason. So people cope as best they can. Right?

(By the way, the reason the lounges were set up in the first place was part of the marketing of the routes to tourists abroad. It's normal in a lot of places to pay for reserved seating. And there isn't any on the ferries. So for example, if you're a family of four in Germany booking a ticket to the island, you add the lounge fare and you have assured seating. It was that assured bit that was the important part, not so much the exclusivity, although that's a selling point for some people, I guess.)

RossK said...


Thanks for your well-reasoned argument.

It is, by far, the best one I have heard so far.

And, for the record, I'd be all in favour of having a quiet section on the boats for the very reasons you mentioned.

But here is something I'd like to know....

1) What is the actual return for shuttering the best spot on the ferry on the ferry at the moment (i.e.back deck, up high where you can view everything)?

I ask because, when I travel, which admittedly is only around/over holidays these days, the thing is essentially empty, again, while people on the rest of the boat can't find seats.

And that 'emptiness' gets back to the 'return' issue.


Anonymous said...

Well that's a really good question. We don't ride ferries that much, they're way too expensive, but the lounge is never full when we are in it, that's true.
I think it was a marketing idea that didn't work out; it would be very interesting to find out how much they make off the area. Or lose. At the very least, it does cost them the price of a crew member, because there is always one crew assigned in there at all times. Maybe one of your shippy readers would know.
My only point was that they made a quiet area and then unfortunately charged people to get in, and some of us are kind of forced to use it since it is at the edge of affordable. Not everyone in there is a rich fat bastard avoiding the masses. In fact, for $12, we come out about even for the price of a coffee and snack at the overpriced food stands downstairs, and also, we don't have to troop through a chain restaurant and get subliminally branded. (Maybe the masses should boycott the White Spot burgers and jam the lounges instead, adbuster-style.)
If you get that admission-free quiet area petition going, I'll sign.