"I'll tell you what it is," he said to me. I had noticed him and his wife right off. They parked right behind us on the boat, we both had easy access to the elevator that took travellers up to the passenger deck. They were both walkers with walkers but what with the wheelchair in the trunk of the car and my slow careful 'protect the knee at all costs' rising, they got to the elevator before us. We waved them on as there was no way we'd all fit in that tiny room.
We met them again in the cafeteria where I'd picked up a tea and parked at a table by the window. Our trips to British Columbia, even one's like this planned quickly, are wonderful. It feels like home here and riding the ferry system provides a view of the world that is hard to find elsewhere. I was sipping my tea and noticed them chowing down at the next table over. We nodded, friendly like.
I was talking with Joe about the amazing people who load these huge honking boats. When we buy our ticket we explain that I am a wheelchair user and they give us a placard that says 'Physically Disabled Person' which we put on the dash. we are directed to a special lane and then, when boarding, we put the car flashers on. As we enter the boat a ferryman or ferrywoman talks to us briefly asking what we need and then they direct us where to park and ensure that we have the space needed for me and the chair.
On our first trip out here as a wheelchair user I always worried that I'd get stuck on the car level because the cars are packed in so tightly. That has never happened, not once. I've travelled the system enough now to notice that my access is not by chance, it is part of an established pattern of caring and competence.
Again, on this small ferry, we had plent of room to get around the car, the people behind us, also needing something extra, did too. As we talked about it I wondered aloud what kind of training that they give these men and women who work for the system. We've never encountered attitude or hositility, we've never been made to feel in the way or a bother. That's remarkable.
The fellow sitting at the next table, was listening in to our conversation. I can't complain, i do that all the time too. He spoke up and said, "I'll tell you what it is, it's just decency. You can train people all they want but you need to hire decency. I've talked to some of these B.C. Ferries guys and, you know what, they're good, decent people."
He left me with a suggestion, "You can always find people who know their jobs, they are a dime a dozen, sift through those and find decent people. Then your work life will be a joy."
What a tremendous idea.
Hire decency, get respect.