I am reminded of my early adolescent days a million years ago in 1982,when “tape” was a noun and a verb having to do with music recordings and VCRs. MTV was only a year old.
When my favorite disc jockeys on the radio announced contests that only dedicated and engaged listeners of fantastic 80s rock like “Jessie’s Girl” and “Hungry Like the Wolf” were lucky enough to hear, I was on that 20-foot corded phone in the speed of a hungry kid waiting for cupcake. All the DJ had to say was, “Be the 10th caller and you could win a visit on the set of General Hospital with Rick Springfield as Dr. Noah Drake!”
Listening to the radio was my chance, my chance, to be in the now, to try to understand at that tender age why Rick Springfield was singing to me and my friends and telling us that we shouldn’t talk to strangers.
And so I called.
And waited for that busy signal to turn into a miracle and a dream come true. One busy signal into another turned into the next and darn it if the large, round dial on the phone didn’t take forever to get each number through. I’d dial 9 and the phone would think about it as it click-click-clicked through the nine. Forever, it took forever, and I never won a darn thing by being even the 32nd caller.
One time I got through, and the radio station employee scoffed like Keanu Reeves with a noise that sounded like “Chuh-uh,” a cross between “yeah” and “duh”.
“Chuh-uh, dude. That contest was over like half an hour ago. Weren’t you listening?”
No, Mario Kart, I wasn’t listening; I was too busy dialing.
Back to life, back to re-al-i-ty…
In the last 24 hours I have called the Block Island Ferry car reservation number over 100 times.
Were their office interested in having me arrested for stalking or harassment, I would confess so long as they would make the reservation. However, since I only ever reach a busy signal, that doesn’t count as stalking. Or harassment.
It just underscores my desperation to “get a good ferry” whose arrival and departure times coincide smoothly with the times my family is allowed to be at our rental house, a slice of heaven on Earth, where we all feel the effects of having done yoga without having to do yoga.
The busy signal plagues me, and I am determined not to experience what happened last year. After three days of calling last January – as if a mom/freelancer has nothing else to do – the best I could get was an 8 A.M. boat from Point Judith, Rhode Island, which means being at the dock by 7:00 A.M. Which means being on 95 North at the crack of dawn -if we lived in Egypt - along with thousands of other island-bounders from southwestern Connecticut. I had the brilliant idea of going to Rhode Island the night before and to stay in a modest hotel near the ferry so that the early morning production of getting kids and a husband into the car when the rest of the civilized world is asleep would be relaxing and manageable.
The modest hotel, online and in theory, would have been perfect. In actuality, when the motorcycle enthusiasts in the parking lot outside our room’s first floor window decided to rev up at 11:00 P.M., and remained doing so as somebody else’s children rode their bikes loudly down the sidewalk outside our door well after midnight, I decided that this year, 2016, would be the year. My year, my chance to get the good ferry, to get on the highway after the sun rises, after the coffee does what coffee is supposed to do. Relaxing, civilized, manageable.
But, no. I am the 10th caller, the 250th, the 300th, and the line is still busy. It’s only been 30 hours. I still have time to beat my three-day mark from last year.
“Dig in your heels and get ready for the long haul,” I said to my sister, who is also calling for her own reservation. I use the tone of Quint from Jaws, describing his experience after the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. “Last year it took three days.”
“No one has ever beaten the Van Wyck,” says Elaine on Seinfeld.
And no one has ever beaten the Block Island ferry car reservation phone line, say I.
At least now, in 2016, there is a redial button.
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