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The Suez Cargo Ship Incident Was Not Funny

By Grigory A. | Anonymous Boat Captain

Last week, a mammoth cargo ship got stuck sideways in the Suez Canal, halting global trade for several days while salvage crews tried to re-float it using very tiny bulldozers.

It’s a normal problem that happens all the time. Unfortunately, it was blown way out of proportion by some teenage brats on the internet, with memes and sarcastic Twitter jokes suddenly popping up all over the place. As an unaffiliated party to this incident (not my ship!), I would like to say very sternly that there was nothing funny about it, whatsoever.


Picture this: a massive boat, turned sideways, holding up all the other traffic behind it like some obnoxious Hummer blocking the carpool lane on the 405. Tragic enough, but then imagine the mortified captain inside trying to call his dad because he’s on the family boat insurance plan but there’s no Verizon service so he paces around telling his crew “one second! I’ll fix it!” in a pretend cheery voice while he desperately tries to turn the stuck wheel. This, all while the port authority keep yelling at him on the radio to move, even though he’s already having a panic attack and the yelling is only making it worse. Hypothetically.

But instead of showing an ounce of sympathy for the captain of that boat—whoever he or she may be—you all choose to mock and make fun. Let me ask you this: if you had to spend 6 nights in a Suez AirBnb that didn’t have working laundry machines, and the host claimed that the pancakes they made you were dairy-free even though you definitely still got stomach problems from it, would you still find that funny? No. You wouldn’t. Especially when the rest of your crew gets to go sightseeing at the Port Said Military Museum for the day while you’re stuck at the site of the dislodged ship making awkward small talk with the bulldozer operators. There was no reason I had to stay there all day, either. I mean, it’s not like the theoretical captain was able to help the workers dig out the ship, but they probably felt too guilty to go off and do fun things or order takeout.

Now, you might be wondering, “Grigory, why do you care so much? You’re just a neutral observer!” While it is true that I was not involved in any way (my ship is called the Everbrown), I simply think that everybody needs to show more sensitivity toward those who accidentally hold up billions of dollars in global commerce. Next time, instead of sending a meme, consider asking the boat captain how they’re feeling. Or, instead of cracking a mean joke, how about you get down in the trenches and help dig, *cough cough* Ken Jennings.

Luckily, the container ship was successfully dislodged last night and we can all move on from this, permanently. Still, I hope last week has taught us all an important lesson in empathy: anybody can get stuck in the Suez Canal, so let’s all be nicer to each other.

Grigory A. has recently retired from being a boat captain as his own voluntary decision. He is currently searching for jobs hiring on land.

Ari Mostow

Thank you for reading!