Ferries Receive Million-Dollar Grant

Sundae Horn
Re-created photo of Capt. Rob's traumatic experience
Re-created photo of Capt. Rob's traumatic experience

Funds will provide restrooms monitors for Ocracoke's ferry fleet.

Citing increasing reports of cleithrophobia, the NCDOT Ferry Division has responded to customer concerns and will be implementing a restroom monitor program beginning in May 2018. A $1,000,000 federal grant will provide funding for the first three years of the program. 

The restroom monitors will work under the auspices of Homeland Security and wear the familiar and easy-to-spot yellow shirt uniforms, finally giving these employees something useful to do. A restroom monitor will be assigned to each restroom door on all car-carrying vessels that travel to and from Ocracoke. The monitors will stand by to keep watch for restroom users and help them navigate the treacherous, heavy doors and toe-stubbing thresholds. The existing restroom locks will be removed and replaced by a system of buzzers and bells that will alert the monitors when the passenger needs the door opened.

“This isn’t happening a moment too soon,” said Capt. Rob Temple of Ocracoke, who was recently stuck in a restroom aboard the Thomas A. Baum for over 20 minutes as he waved out the porthole and tried to attract the attention of other passengers. (Look up from your phones once in a while, people!) Eventually, he was rescued, but still feels bitter about being robbed of his well-deserved nautical naptime. “The ferry service is lucky I had already imbibed the cold beer I brought aboard for the ride,” he said. “I hate warm beer.”

If you're not afraid, you're not paying attention.
If you're not afraid, you're not paying attention.

Former Ocracoke resident Molly Lovejoy had mixed feelings about the new policy. “It’s strange,” she said. “When I moved to the big city, I was surprised to learn that ‘getting stuck in the ferry bathroom’ isn't an answer to the Biggest Childhood Fear question that a lot of people can relate to.”

But, she added, “It’s an important part of Ocracoke childhood, a right of passage, a mark of growing up in a specific time and place. If these people prevent kids from getting stuck in the bathroom, then Ocracoke kids will be more like regular kids! Who wants that? Who? And why should today’s little snowflakes get special treatment when my generation had to suffer?”

In spite of Molly’s pointed criticism, Ferry Division deputy director Jed Dixon said he’s happy to alleviate this ferry-related phobia. “The well-being and safety of our passengers is always out first priority,” he said. “And applying for this grant and hiring the restroom monitors is a tangible thing we can do to improve the passenger experience.” Jed added that he assumes Ocracoke residents will be thrilled that his department used time and energy to address this issue rather than focusing on the lost cause of the “short route.” “This was doable,” he said. “And I think we can all appreciate that.”

The new Ocracoke Express passenger-only ferry to begin service this summer won’t need restroom monitors, the ferry division reports. The ride will be so short that no restrooms will be necessary. 


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