Joke on the water: One more, very real suggestion for naming new ferry

Kudos and Kvetches

A lot has been made over B.C. Ferries’ recent publicity gaffe where the much-maligned public-private corporation thought it wise to invite the lumpen masses to name three new vessels currently being tricked out in Poland with those rad coin-operated massage chairs.

Not surprisingly, B.C. Ferries promoted the contest with a level of faux earnestness, PR speak and obliviousness that makes our teeth hurt. “Naming the new ferries provides an exciting opportunity for B.C. residents and B.C. Ferries’ employees to celebrate the beauty of coastal British Columbia by submitting their best vessel names,” read the press release. “For inspiration, consider names that reflect local values and culture, as well as B.C. Ferries’ role in operating a safe and reliable world-class fleet of vessels.”

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After all, who doesn’t like “exciting opportunities,” especially ones that celebrate the beauty of coastal B.C. while being inspired by local values, culture and B.C. Ferries’ stellar safety record, notwithstanding the occasional breakdown, the sinking of the Queen of the North and that time a ferry lost power and crashed into a Horseshoe Bay marina.

Because of this and the fact that everyone is a comedian and online outrage is an insatiable nectar, the negative response to the misguided contest spread across social media like a ladle of lukewarm gravy over a plate of soggy fries. We’re really trying to extend the ferry travel metaphor here.

Online jokesters came up with a slew of mocking, often hacky names slagging both B.C. Ferries and the provincial government, including Spirit of Walletsucker, The Queen of Poor Management, Spirit of Government Ineptitude and The Christy Clark Ark. And the media followed, either by listing the most “clever” submissions or coming up with equally clever ferry metaphors for headlines: “Contest to name BC Ferries’ new ships runs aground on barrage of mockery” and “That sinking feeling: Contest to name BC Ferries vessels backfires,” to name a few.

But enough already. We get it. Let’s not waste this opportunity B.C. Ferries has given us, no matter how superficial. Sure, HMS Cantafford is mildly funny, but do we really want that emblazoned across the side of vessel that serves totally edible clam chowder for a somewhat reasonable price? Of course not. Which is why we’d like to humbly suggest a real name to call one of the three ferries. A once common, easy to spell name that instills confidence or at least resigned acceptance. A name like Gary.

When you need to borrow gas for your mower, who do you turn to? That sometimes annoying, but generally tolerable neighbour Gary.

Who was the life of the party, drove a cool car, had a wicked mullet in the ’80s but has hit a rough patch, lives in motel and owes your dad money? Uncle Gary.

What name embodies good times, bad times, erratic behaviour, misguided personal choices, dashed dreams, regret, hope and “local values and culture”? Gary.

Say it loud and say it proud: Gary.

What are we doing this weekend? We’re riding Gary all the way to effin’ Nanaimo. That’s what we’re doing.

Thank you. That is all.


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