Gloria Freeman

If you exit the ferry boat in an exceptionally good mood, one reason could be that deckhand Gloria Freeman was working on board that day.

Gloria Freeman decided to work in the maritime industry after her husband became a longshoreman. She is now a member of the Inland Boatman’s Union (IBU).

BY MATT LARSON

 

If you exit the ferry boat in an exceptionally good mood, one reason could be that deckhand Gloria Freeman was working on board that day. Passengers may even do a little dance to match Freeman, who frequently dances a bit as she welcomes the passengers onboard with warmth and positivity.

  

“It’s like a big happy family,” she said. “We see each other every day! I know their names and they know mine.” She always makes a point to reach out and actually talk to the commuters, get to know them, and help them feel comfortable as they cruise along the Bay. She said, simply, “I like to satisfy the passengers and make them happy.”

  

Monday through Friday, you can currently catch Freeman on the San Francisco Bay Ferry with Blue & Gold Fleet on the Vallejo commute. Before life on the ferry boats, Freeman worked for Chevron for nearly 20 years. She then studied up on medical insurance billing and coding as a potential career option, but changed course immediately after her husband, Ed, became a longshoreman.

  

“One of the girls out there told me about the IBU,” Freeman recalled. “I signed up, got my credential within one week, and a month and a half later they called me in to do the training. It was like it was meant to be.”

  

Once Freeman started working as a mariner, oftentimes she was able to spot her husband hard at work as she floated by on the ferry. “I used to do the Alameda/Oakland run,” she said. “He would be on the dock and I would pass by on the boat. He would wave at me and I’d take his picture as we passed by.” Pretty good vibes all around, which makes this a perfect job for someone like Freeman.

  

“I’m a people person,” she explained. “I love brightening everyone’s day because that’s just who I am. That’s what I do. And they brighten my day when they come on board as well.” She’s gotten to know many riders on a first-name basis. She loves the beautiful scenery of the Bay, the calmness of the water, her amazing team of co-workers; but for Freeman the primary draw is the customers. “What I look forward to the most when going to work is being around our passengers,” she said. “I’m glad to see them every day.”

  

Freeman grew up in Oakland, was raised in Annapolis, Maryland, and currently resides in Suisun City. When she’s not working on the ferries, Freeman likes to spend her time traveling, especially on the road.

  

“I love road trips. And I love family,” she said. So naturally, road trips with her family are hard to beat. “I like to see the scenery, the trees, listen to music, and enjoy the fresh air.” During her interview for this article, Freeman was on her way to Reno. Her longest road trip to date was from California back to her old stomping grounds in Maryland. At this writing, she’s most looking forward to visiting New Orleans. “I love the south,” she said. “That atmosphere is the best and their southern hospitality is just wonderful.”

        

Freeman is happy to be working on the water, especially for such a company as Blue & Gold, and she believes that the ferry is the best way to travel in the Bay. “There’s no other means of transportation like the ferry,” she said. “It’s comfortable, you can’t beat the scenery. Plus, you have the people that go upstairs and play poker, people that get on their laptops, they go to the bar and get a glass of wine on their way home from work—it’s just a beautiful atmosphere.”