Blogging Like I've Never Blogged Before

Thursday, October 16, 2003

I never thought that my ferry driving experience would make me feel like an authority on a breaking news story. I was watching NY1 (for you out-of-towners, that's the local all-news station) when they busted in with their awesome breaking news graphic. The letters practically jump at you with intensity. It was like watching a 3D movie. You say to yourself, "This shit is about to break - big time!"

I didn't expect it to be any real big news. Breaking News lately qualifies as just about anything. "There is maaajor traffic on the FDR. Stick with New York 1 and we will keep you posted as details become available."

So when I saw that it was the Staten Island ferry, I immediately thought of my days back in Disney World when I drove a ferry boat. Also known as the best job I ever had. I drove a boat that was based on the design of the Staten Island ferries. They were much smaller, but we still could carry almost 1,000 people.

I was listening to the reporters, all trying to speculate and come up with the reason why it crashed. They were all talking about how it might have been the wind that had something to do with it. Then they finally showed some footage from the scene and all of the wreckage, and I knew when I saw it that there was no way that damage could have been caused by wind.

But the reporters still went on with the wind angle. One reporter actually interviewed another NY1 reporter because he used to ride the ferry a lot. It was a pretty useless interview. It's like if after a plane crash a reporter said, "OK, on the line we have 7 year-old Katie. She said she doesn't know her last name. Anyway, she just flew back from a vacation with her family from Florida. Katie, can you tell us what the plane was like?"

So I was very tempted to call up NY1 and offer my ferry boat captain expertise. But then I thought about it and I shied away, basically because I feared they would make fun of me.

Reporter: OK, on the phone we have Mike Toole. He used to drive a ferry boat at Disney World. Disney World? (aside to producer) Is that right? This is the best we could get? OK. Anyway, Mike, how was the boat you drove similar to the Staten Island ferries?

Me: Well, the boats we drove were actually based on the original design of the Staten --

Reporter: I'm sorry, but don't those boats ride on a track?

Me: Um, no actually, they were all free-floating vessels. The area where I drove the boats was one of the few in the entire park where they weren't on tracks. Anyway, as I was saying, the design was based on the original Staten Island ferries, and they still use the same design in the boats today, so while the boats I drove were smaller, they are basically the same.

Reporter: Except for the fact that the ones you drove were on a track, right?

Me: No, I just told you that they were not.

Reporter: Really?

Me: Yeah, I just said that.

Reporter: I guess I wasn't listening. I was picturing that scene from Fantasia with all the water. You know, where Mickey Mouse is waving it all around with his hands.

Me: Yes, I am familiar with that movie.

Reporter: So I'm like picturing you driving the boat, but you look like Mickey Mouse. It's a pretty funny visual.

Me: Shouldn't we focus on what's going on here? This is pretty serious.

Reporter: Oh, yeah. Sure, sure. So tell, me Disney Boy, what's your brilliant theory on all this?

Me: Well, I just wanted to say, that after I saw pictures of the damage, while wind may have played a part in it, there is no way that it was only the wind that was the major cause. I'm sure that there have been windier days than this, and there has never been anything close to this kind of damage.

Reporter: Uh-huh. Let me ask you a question. Did you have to wear some kind of funny costume? Like Mickey Mouse ears or anything?

Me: No. Well, we did have this kind of captain costume, you know with a hat and a striped shirt, but nothing crazy. Some people had much worse costumes. But I don't think that's the point here.

Reporter: Oh man, that's hilarious. Did you have an eye patch or a parrot or something like that.

Me: No, we weren't pirates. Anyway, back to the ferry accident.

Reporter: Oh yeah. You were saying some crap about wind or something. Which, you really can't comment on with any authority, being that your boat was on a track.

Me: IT WAS NOT ON A TRACK! I really drove this boat, dammit! We had a lot of responsibility. there was a very good chance we could have crashed as well. In fact, there have been accidents in the past where people were injured.

Reporter: Sure thing, Cap'n.

Me: Anyway, the thing with the wind, while you do have to use more speed when you are docking on windy day like today, it shouldn't be going a speed that could cause this kind of damage. My guess here would be something happened to the pilot, or it was something mechanical that prevented him from stopping. But if that was the case, he probably would have realized there was a problem and turned the boat before it got closer to the slip.

Reporter: What's a slip?

Me: It's where the ferry docks. It's what you guys keep calling a "slot".

Reporter: I like slot better. Slips are what my grandma wears.

Me: OK. Look, I'm going to go. I thought I could help you out here, but obviously --

Reporter: No, no wait! How did you get this job? Did you have connections? Like, was your dad frat brothers with Donald Duck or something like that?

Me: Bye bye. I'm going to go call NBC and help them.

Reporter: OK, well that was Mike O'Toole, who used to drive a boat in Disney World. Obviously, we really shouldn't pay much attention to what he said, because we all know that those boats down there are on tracks. Anyway, now for your Weather on the 1's. Right after the break, we are going to talk to a man who was once on a cruise ship, and his daughter, whose favorite movie is Pirates of the Caribbean.
All material © Mike Toole; 2003 - 2006