Oh, 2021, we had such hopes for you. Of the three main gateways to the island, at least the bridge maintenance seems to be making progress. Alas, the ferry system is having to deal with “The Great Resignation” (short version, long version) and a need for employees who are fortunate enough to avoid exposure to the pandemic. Without enough crew, the boats can’t sail; so, at least until the ferry system finds enough responsible folks (including being properly certified), the schedules will be reduced. Sigh, and so it goes.
For many residents, less-frequent ferry trips won’t make much of a difference. If you don’t need to commute or handle errands off-island, you may not notice the difference – except as you drive by long ferry lines in Clinton or Coupeville. Too many, however, can be seriously impacted. Commuters and people with regular appointments on the mainland will definitely notice; so will visitors. Thanks to a variety of stores, most shopping can happen on-island. Whether the stores can get deliveries is a different aspect; but the impact will be lessened somewhat as more people work from home and learn from home.
Some of the situation is directly caused by the pandemic. Ferry workers who are exposed to the virus are naturally asked to not show up to work. It is a simple defense against the spread of the disease. It sounds like the majority have managed to remain safe, but they are not enough. The ferry system is hiring, but the training isn’t instantaneous.
The surprising part of the situation has been the indirect effect labeled The Great Resignation. Millions of people across the country are considering quitting, retiring, or re-assigning themselves because the accidental opportunity created by staying home more meant a chance to reflect on their work and how it fits into their life. Whether from too little pay, or too much work, or an unpleasant environment, they are deciding to try something different – sometimes quitting before they’ve found something new to do.
The immediate impact has been not enough properly trained people to crew the boats. Ironically, a secondary impact may be to bring more people to the island. The ferry interruption is unfortunate, but to someone far away deciding to quit and move, the great resignation may be their time to finally move here, to the island. As people are resigning, they are also considering plans that have been put off for too long. Now, they may feel, is the time to finally move to the island life. YOLO, you know. (And You Only Live Once in case you didn’t know what YOLO meant.)
The schedules cut back as of October 16. Whether the system has an expected end to the interim is moot because guessing what the situation will be months from now can be like trying to guess last Spring what would be happening this Autumn. In three months we’ll be in 2022. Oh, 2022. We have such hopes for you.