Monday, January 16, 2012


I am not a particularly fearful person, although I admit to sometimes considering the worst possible outcome when I’m confronted with certain possibilities. That little quirk has been with me since I was a small child, not even old enough to understand “outcomes.” The earliest I remember is being afraid of fire….or more specifically, fire engine sirens. When I heard a siren, I’d go hide in the closet, or if I was outside, I’d go stand with my back to a wall. I’d somehow feel protected that way. I don’t know when it started but by first grade this fear had pretty much abated.

The second fear I acquired was of water, but not just of any water. It was of falling into water. I was brought up in Long Beach, California, where my folks often took us for a drive around Rainbow Pier, a horseshoe shaped pier that jutted out in the ocean as shown in the postcard above. There was water on each side of the pier – a lagoon on one side and the ocean on the other. The pier was plenty wide for the one-way auto traffic and there was never the possibility of a car plunging into the water, but I think that was the time and place when I first thought about “certain possibilities” – that of ending up inside our car in the drink! Eventually I outgrew that particular fear, but the residual to that is that as an adult I don’t do causeways, anywhere, anyhow! I will walk around Lake Ponchartrain before I would drive a causeway across it.

The whole reason I am writing about this is that this past weekend a car full of Taiwan tourists on the little three-car Balboa Island ferry that takes people across the narrowish Newport Harbor found themselves in that very predicament, having had their rented SUV pushed off the end of the Ferryboat by an errant Mercedes that was being parked on the boat behind them. The TV showed the SUV bobbing around in the bay – and my insides reacted as if I, not the Taiwan family, were the one who was in that SUV.

Taking a ride on the Balboa ferry was, in my growing up years, second only to taking a drive around rainbow pier. In the evenings we did the pier; on the weekends, because it wa a little further down the coast from Long Beach, my folks did the Balboa Ferry. To my recollection, I never once stayed in the car while it was on the ferry. We always got out of the car and sat on benches along the gunwales. If the car was going in the water, I was for sure not going with it. So when I saw the TV news of that very thing happening, it was as if prophecy was fulfilled. I could honestly say, “I KNEW IT!” and my latent fear was finally justified

I did not bring these fears (very much) with me into my adult years. I rode on the “feribot” (Turkish spelling) a lot in Istanbul, but usually it was just the people ferry, not one that carried cars. However, to hedge my bets, I always found a seat right near the big opening on the sides, which you will be able to recognize from the picture. Especially while traveling across the Bosphorus, where the feribots were going across the water and the big supertankers were going up and down the water, sharing the same space, I was always a bit leery of – again – the worst possible outcome. That would be a collision between my boat and the tanker, especially since while we were there one of those tankers collided with a freighter carrying 25,000 sheep; the little tanker split in two and 25,000 sheep were accidentally drowned right in the middle of Istanbul’s Bosphorus. So although I rode on the feribots, I was not a comfortable passenger and even in the winter with the bitter wind blowing in those side openings, you could see me easily hedging my bets, wrapped like a mummy in warm clothing!

So here I am at 76, having survived all kinds of remote possibilities. I was a worrier as a kid, my mom told me, and I understand. I still tend to verbalize these remote and unlikely possibilities, according to Jerry. But I say, having taken to heart the old adage “Forewarned is forearmed,” that one might as well be ready to choose your own poison, and should I find myself in that spot, it fer shure won’t be from a ferry boat accident.

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