Never Bite the Hand That Feeds You
Remember way back when? Back when life was grand and warm and I was crusing around the Caribbean? Ahhh… those were the days! I’ve shared a few stories from that vacation but I left out a great one. As with all of my other stories, I hope this transfers well. Often I think of something so funny and then as I re-read it later I think, “Who trusted me with a blog? I just fell asleep reading that!” So bear with me!
A few years ago I went on a Norwegian Freestyle cruise with my parents and sister. “Freestyle” cruising is basically the same as regular cruising, except you don’t have assigned dinner tables, times, and waiters. The commercials say something like, “You’re on vacation. You don’t want us telling you what to do.” Or something ridiculous like that. I don’t see it that way. To me, Freestyle cruising isn’t “doing what you want” it’s an excuse for the cruise-line to skimp on service. It’s their way of telling us that when we want to go to dinner, we’ll have to put our name down on a waiting list until they have space for a party of 4. The worst part is that you have a different waiter each night. I have opinions about this. You have opinions? No!
One of the best parts of cruising is getting to know your waiter. They are fun, entertaining, and so friendly. This past cruise, ours was great. His name was Rick and he was from Trinidad. One evening at dinner he invited us to go have breakfast in the formal dining room the next morning. (We normally just do room service or the buffet.) We agreed. He said he’d save a table for 8 just for us. For you cruise virgins, let me clarify. You have assigned dinner times and tables, but breakfast is on your own. If you choose to eat in the formal dining room, they seat you where ever they want and your waiter is whoever they want. So for Rick to save us a table at the time of our choice, well, it’s unusual and going above and beyond.
The next morning comes. As Stephen and I walk into the dining room we easily spot the large round table. My parents, Justin, and Laura are already sitting there. But there are 4 empty seats. We take our seats and say good morning to Rick. The minutes pass and there is no sign of Lindsay or Lauren. These 2 empty seats are now staring us straight in the face. No shows? Really? Rick does not pretend to not notice. He asks us where the two girls are. Apologetically we tell him that we have no idea and that they must’ve stood him up. We did not realize the wrath that he would unleash. “I guess they won’t eat tonight,” he joked.
We all gathered again that night for dinner. As Rick walked around the table placing napkins on our laps and handing us our menus, he blantantly ignored Lindsay and Lauren. No eye contact, no smirk, not even a reprimand. Lindsay and Lauren glanced at each other, seeing that they’ve been ignored but having no idea why. They looked at the napkins, beautifully folded in front of them. They didn’t dare move them. (Laura had done this a few nights ago and Rick forced her to refold it before she got to order. And since Lindsay and Lauren had skipped the napkin folding class, they couldn’t risk it.) As we read the menu and tried not to explode in laughter, I noticed Lauren peaking over at Stephen’s menu and Lindsay keeping to herself. Meanwhile, our assistant waiter (Alex) came by to fill our water glasses. He saw that napkins sitting in front of the girls. He grabbed them and laid them over their laps. “Alex!” Rick yelled as he ran over, “Don’t touch that!”
Lindsay innocently looks at all of us. “Um. Is Rick mad at us? What did we do?” At this point, we couldn’t hold in our laughter. We gently told them that they may have hurt his feelings by skipping breakfast this morning. And that they ought to apologize before he sends them up to the Windjammer to eat buffet style. They apologized, explaining that they were tired and didn’t mean to hurt his feelings. They told him that they regret their decision and please please please let them eat. He gave them menus but didn’t speak to them. His attitude toward them was cold as ice as he took their order and delivered their food. When it came time for dessert, things got personal. They ordered a sinful chocolate cake. They got this:
They were smiling for the picture… deep down I’m sure there was a bit of fear. “Really? Is this our dessert? Could he at least bring me a cookie so I could dip it into my chocolate rejection?!”
Treaties can be reached many different ways. A handshake, an apology, a signature. You may not know this but in open seas, treaties are reached a bit differently. The wrong do-er pleads a heartfelt apology, promises to behave, and swears to never take their relationship for granted. It’s up to the person on the other end at this point. He has the choice to hold a grudge. Or he can do the only other option: