Losing my cool at the ferry terminal
Was I wise to take on four drunks?
It was a British Columbian’s nightmare! We were stuck in a seemingly endless ferry lineup to Vancouver Island on a sweltering long weekend. My husband and I were taking his mother to see her friend for the weekend, and she was ensconced in the back seat of our small red sports car with black seat covers and no air conditioning.
All the windows were rolled down, so it was easy to hear the loudspeaker projecting the bad news of a ferry breakdown and a further two-hour delay. My husband, exhausted from a long workday, threw his head back on the seat, closed his eyes, and started to catnap.
The antiquated car in the lane next to my open window held five young men, and I was unsure if they were just high on life or some substance. As the wait progressed their radio volume increased as did their voices. They were in and out of the car and trunk, banging into my side of the car, and using every four-letter word I recognized and then some. I could feel my own thermostat beginning to boil when the profanity started.
My husband opened one eye, peered at me and said, “Just leave it.” How well he knows me! To be fair, the apparent designated driver was not ingesting from the bottles clanking in the trunk, but it was obvious as hour two progressed with no ferry in sight that we had four big drunk men whose mouths slurred sewage.
When someone takes my Lord’s name in vain, it’s like fingernails running down a chalkboard in my head. Couple God’s name with profanity and my teeth hurt like a dental drilling. No one was intervening regarding the cacophony of noise that permeated the entire area and I was sickened.
It happened so fast I surprised myself. Flinging open my door, in a loud shaking voice I told them quite succinctly, “You are obnoxious and drunk! Your language is foul and seeping into our air space. And, furthermore, you are profaning God’s name and he happens to be a friend of mine. Now why don’t you all get back into your car and sober up!”
I slammed my door and sat down. To my surprise, applause broke out from cars all around us. The young men crawled back into their car and were quiet. My husband was wide awake. I was shaking like the proverbial leaf, and Mother wondered how I had managed to get all the words out without once stuttering or showing my fear.
I attempted to keep my head turned away from the opened window, wondering when or how my punishment would be inflicted. I had never done anything like that before. But things remained quiet until the ferry arrived.
All of a sudden, a tap came on the roof of the car – my side, of course. It was the designated driver. He apologized for the men’s language, specifically for offending me by taking God’s name in vain. I, for once, was speechless, simply accepting his apology with tears in my eyes.
Once on board the ferry, who should be in front of me in the restaurant line but four giant bleary-eyed, sheepish young men. My husband poked me with his elbow, one eyebrow raised, his eyes boring into mine. I felt dwarfed by men 30 years younger than I, who could easily bench press me with one hand.
Then, every one of them turned to me, and slurring their words, apologized for “hurting my feelings.”
The mischief in me wanted to step on my husband’s foot, but I didn’t, and when we prayed over our meal we prayed for those young men, that Christ would by some miracle come to mean more to them that just a swear word.