Friday Fail: Catching the Ferry


My last couple of posts talk about our weekend in the Hamptons with a high school friend and her husband. As I anticipated, it didn’t take much for me to find another fail, and that weekend away provided just the opportunity for that.

If you know anything about Long Island, you’ll know that this name was not selected at random. The island is truly long. This makes it very hard to drive along the length of the entire island to get through Connecticut. As someone who is always looking for the best price and ways to cut costs, it did not sit well with me that I would pay $79 each way to get on a ferry when there’s a driving option. But with anything in life, a cost benefit analysis is crucial. Taking the ferry cut 3 hours off our trip and reduced our driving by over 150 miles. I decided to not be penny wise and pound foolish. My time is more valuable than the difference between the ferry cost and gas costs. Considering there are 2 of us in the car, that’s 6 hours of our time.So I reluctantly included the $160 expense as part of our getaway budget.

After spending a fun time having a good food and enjoying even better company we bid farewell to our friends, we got on the road to catch the ferry.  I programmed the destination on the GPS and went on the website to make a reservation. There were 42 spaces left on the boat, so we were essentially were pretty much guaranteed to find a seat. Next, I checked the schedule. The last boat out is 8 pm. If you miss that boat, you’re either sleeping on Long Island or you’re driving all the way around to get to the “main land”. I take a look at the GPS and our estimated time of arrival (factoring in for traffic) is 8:15. I look at my husband in sheer panic and I growl: “Step on it!”

I don’t know what it is about this place, maybe it was the nice weather on that particular weekend, maybe it’s part of their culture, maybe it was all in my head, but it seemed like everyone was driving 10-15 miles below the speed limit. We changed lanes, we prayed, we took it easy when we were lucky enough to spot a speed trap. But between the read lights and the slow locals, I realized we had only picked up about 3 minutes. Our new adjusted ETA was 8:12. I had a death grip on the door handle and I decided to call the customer service number on the website to get some additional information. I don’t know what else I was hoping for. Maybe if I talked enough I could stall them? In any case it turns out that the information that I received from the woman manning the phones did the opposite I anticipated. She created more concerns with the following information:

a) I could order a ferry ticket over the phone (which should eliminate me having to stand in line), however, I needed to be at the desk to pick up the physical ticket 15 minutes prior to departure time.

b) If I couldn’t make it, before the 15 minutes, I could call and have the ticket canceled for a full refund (win!) BUT, if I missed my chance to call and didn’t register 10 minutes before the boat left, they would cancel the ticket and charge me the full price.

Oh ok great. No big deal. Earlier, I needed to make up 15 minutes of time but turns out it was really 30 minutes. In fact, if I didn’t want to lose $79, I needed to know well in advance whether or not I was going to make it. And if I was wrong about that, I could lose my spot on the boat, if they’re sold out, even if I do make it on time. Hold on, let me grab my crystal ball so I can figure all of this out, right after I predict the next natural disaster, along with advising President Obama of Russia’s next move and changing my retirement portfolio allocation based on what the stock market will do.

At this point I’ve nearly lost hope but neither one of us is the kind to give up so we keep going. Maybe there’ll be some mechanical problems or they’re not fully staffed. It would be a miracle but were hoping that something will happen. But strangely enough, while the GPS says we have 17 miles to go with an ETA of 8:12 pm, we come upon this sign that says: Ferry, 1000 feet. We make a right and we are on the dock!

How did this happen you ask? Well, it turns out that, while I looked at the correct website and talked to the right people, I programmed an incorrect address into the GPS. We spent most of the ride alternating between worried silence and cursing the locals for their slow driving, but we were always going to make the last boat out. We not only made it, we made it with over 20 minutes to spare and we were the 4th car in line to get in.

Don’t let me feel bad alone… share your own fails!


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