Sober up


It was everyone’s British Columbia nightmare: stuck in a seemingly endless ferry lineup to Vancouver Island on a sweltering long weekend. My husband and I were taking his mother to the island to see her dear friend for the weekend.Mom was ensconced in the back seat of a small red sports car with black seat covers and no air-conditioning. And we thought we were doing her a favor.

All the windows were rolled down, and so it was easy to hear the loudspeaker projecting the bad news of a ferry breakdown and a further anticipated two-hour delay. My husband, exhausted from a long workday, threw his head back on the seat, closed his eyes; as men do, he napped.

The antiquated car in the lane next to my open window held five young men, and I was unsure if they were just high on life or some substance. As the wait progressed, they increased their radio volume and their voices. They were in and out of the car and trunk, banging into my side of the car and using every four-letter word I recognized and then some.

I could feel my own thermostat beginning to boil when the profanity started. My husband opened one eye, peered at me and said three words: "Just leave it." How well he knows me. To be fair, the obvious designated driver was not ingesting from the bottles clanking in the trunk. But it was obvious as the second hour progressed with no ferry in sight that we had four big drunk men whose mouths slurred sewage.

When someone takes my Lord’s name in vain it is like fingernails running down a blackboard. Couple God’s name with profanity and my teeth hurt like a dental drill! No one was intervening regarding the cacophony of noise that permeated the entire area, and I was sickened.

It happened so fast I surprised myself. I flung open my door, and in a loud, shaking voice I told them quite succinctly: "You are obnoxious and drunk! Your language is foul and seeping into our air space. And furthermore you are profaning God’s name, and he happens to be a friend of mine. Now why don’t you all get back into your car and sober up!" 

I slammed my door and sat down. And surprisingly, I heard applause from all the cars around us. All 5’ 1” of me didn’t get beaten up, and they crawled back into their car and were quiet. My husband sure was wide awake. I was shaking like the proverbial leaf and Mother wondered how I had managed to get all the words out without once stuttering or showing my fear. I wondered too.

I attempted to keep my head turned away from the opened window, wondering when or how my punishment would be inflicted. I had never done anything like this before. Things remained quiet until the ferry arrived; the young men were passed out. 

All of a sudden a tap came on the roof of the car, my side of course. It was the designated driver! He apologized for their language, specifically for offending me by taking God’s name in vain. Not his words, but good enough. I was for once speechless, simply accepting his apologies with tears in my eyes.

Once on board the ferry, who should be in front of me in the restaurant line but the four giant bleary-eyed and sheepish young men. My husband poked me with his elbow, one eyebrow raised, his eyes boring into mine. I felt dwarfed by men 30 years younger than me who could easily bench-press me with one hand. Every one of them turned to me and, though still slurring their words, apologized for "hurting my feelings." The mischief in me wanted to step on my husband’s foot, but I didn’t. And when we prayed over our meal we prayed for the young men, that Christ would by some miracle come to mean more to them than just a swear word.

Vonnie Mostat is a freelance writer and the British Columbia representative for the MB Herald. Her personal stories are frequently published in the Leader. She hopes that this story will encourage others to speak up when they hear God's name used in vain. 


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