“The massive container ship Ever Given has been stuck in the Suez Canal for three days, halting billions of dollars in trade as vessels pile up at both ends of the waterway.” — CNBC, 3/25/21
Egypt. Day. I am steering my skyscraper-sized container ship through the Suez Canal when I get a text message. I glance down at my phone. It’s from my father.
DAD: Remember that time when I taught you to drive and you were really bad at it? Anyway, nice weather today.
[BOAT MAKES TERRIBLE SCRAPING NOISE.]
Oh god. I look up from my phone. My behemoth-ship is wedged into the sandy bank of the Suez Canal. How did this happen? There’s only one lane!
I try to put the boat in reverse.
[BOAT MAKES EVEN WORSE SCRAPING NOISE.]
People are starting to notice. They gather on the banks of the canal.
SCORNFUL ONLOOKERS: Look! That woman is blocking 12% of global trade!
I try to hide my face as I frantically spin the boat-wheel. It comes off in my hands. Sirens blare. Oh no! Boat cops.
BOAT COPS: Ma’am?
ME (dying inside): Yes?
BOAT COPS: We’re from the Suez Canal Authority. Are you aware that you are obstructing one of the most vital maritime shipping routes on the planet?
The crowds continue to gather. Helicopters film me from the air.
BOAT COPS: Do you have a license for that absurdly large boat?
ME: Of, of course… right here…
I open my wallet, and the only thing inside is a single CVS receipt. The longer I yank on it, the longer it grows, leaving me looking like an un-boat-licensed clown unfurling a never-ending handkerchief of failure.
BOAT COPS: We thought so.
A fleet of tugboats surrounds the beached ship — a hulking monument to my incompetence.
TUGBOAT CAPTAIN: We can’t move it!
BOAT COPS: Can we lighten the cargo?
TUGBOAT CAPTAIN: No. It is too heavy with her sins.
The Boat Cops open a shipping container. It is full to the brim with every time a waiter said, “Enjoy your meal,” and I replied, “You too.”
BOAT COPS: My god…
The reporters begin to arrive. They all thrust hot microphones in front of my sweating face. Cameras flash.
REPORTERS: You have done a terrible thing, and the whole world knows about it. We understand that you have only recently begun to work as Boat Driver. Do you think this catastrophe could have been prevented if you didn’t try to switch industries in your thirties?
ME: Isn’t that normal???
REPORTERS: Not for you.
The boat trembles under our feet. Is it growing larger??? It’s growing larger.
SATELLITES: (taking images from space) We need this for posterity. Everyone must know your shame.
TWITTER (spreads images widely, coins hashtag): WE SHAME YOU. YOU ARE #FAILBOAT NOW. YOU ARE THE MAIN CHARACTER OF THE INTERNET AND WE HATE YOU.
I pull a burlap sack over my head and begin deleting my accounts as I cling to the rapidly expanding boat. It is now as tall as it is long.
REPORTERS (yelling into bullhorn from the ground): SIMPLY STUNNING. WE NOW GO LIVE TO BRYAN, THE BOY WHO REJECTED YOU IN THIRD GRADE.
BRYAN (projected against the sky on a huge screen): I always knew you would do this someday. Also, you look pretty much the same.
REPORTERS: Thank you, Bryan.
BOAT COPS (grabbing bullhorn from the slavering media horde): MA’AM, IN THE PAST 24 HOURS, YOU HAVE HALTED $9.6 BILLION WORTH OF SHIPPING TRAFFIC. HOW DO YOU PLAN TO PAY FOR THIS?
ME: Oh god…
I open my online banking app. Somehow, it contains only a CVS receipt. Everyone groans.
BOAT COPS: We thought so.
Like rats fleeing a sinking vessel, all my teeth fall out at once. I scramble to catch them and stuff them in my pockets. Once again, my phone buzzes. It’s another text from my father.
DAD: So how’s the whole boat thing going?