Monday, June 16, 2014

Last Cruise Words!

Go Figure!

Reflections on the people on a cruise: It always amazes me that there are people in the world who have a hard time just being happy.  On our cruise, I only noticed two Grinches. Out of about 6,000 people, including crew and passengers, I figure that is a pretty good percentage. About 97% or more.
Unfortunately, I ran across the path of these two women and that gave me some pause for thinking. It is quite a shock to be dunked into the myriad of deliriously happy and relaxed passengers who are just enjoying life and then run across one of these people. Let’s just say that cruising did not help them relax any. So they took it out on those around them!


The Pissed Pee-er
The first lady was one I followed to the restroom near the theater. She first became annoyed because the wheelchair restroom, which she did not require, was locked because there was someone in there.
“Jesus!” she muttered.
I kindly pointed to the Ladies Room across the hall. She glared at me and headed that way. I think she wanted to continue to be inconvenienced and my helpfulness did not allow that. I noted the restroom and held the door for her. She refused it and got annoyed at me.
“I’m holding the door for you!” she said.
OK then. Once inside, wow!
This lady did not like the beautiful bathroom. She peed without any fuss, thank you, and started in again when she got to the fancy water spigots.
“Jesus!” she exclaimed as she managed the water. Then we came to the paper towels. Holy moly. She did not have the magic touch to have the paper towels come out of the machine.
“Jesus Christ!”
By the time she exited the bathroom, I was praying for her family on the cruise. Also praying I did not run into her again. Well, I did not. But at the end of the trip, the very end, as we were waiting to debark, Number Two reared her ugly head.


Thankless Person #2
She was using a walker, which is not an excuse for bad behavior.  But she was an angry person and took it out on the staff members who were trying very hard to meet her (many) needs.  Of course the staff members are all international, which is one of the charming things about cruising. She barked an order at one of the stewards. He did not understand her order.
“Can’t you speak English?” she rudely asked. That was it for me. Part of me wanted to run over and give her what-for but I felt it would embarrass the cruise staffers who had been so professional. So after she left, I just went over and commiserated with them.
Me: Hard to please someone who hasn’t had any for 30 years, isn’t it?

It was good to see them smile.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Cruise Neophytes

If we had taken our kids with us on the cruise, they probably would have been embarrassed at our lack of class. We took turns being bumbling fools. Sometimes we bumbled at the same time.
Jeanne’s Turn: As we walk into the ship for the first time, a staff member came forward with a squirt bottle and squirted the back of my right hand. I was surprised, was not expecting that. She smiled so I guessed it was a good thing and no one else seemed offended. What could it mean? A wet welcome to the ocean? Or would it dry and glow in the dark, our entrance and exit means to the amazing bars? Inquiring minds wanted to know so I went to another staff member who also squirted me.
Me: What is this stuff? (I held my hand up to my nose to sniff.)
Staff member: It’s hand sanitizer. Washee, Washee! Happy, Happy!
Me: Oh, cool. I get it. Glad to hear they are fighting the germ war! I moseyed back to George, attempting to maintain my dignity.
The squirters were everywhere all over the boat!
Jeanne Bumbles again: I had (note past tense here) a little casino fund that I saved for the trip. I was ready to use it. I sat down at the slot machine. It would not take my card or my money. I tried 3 more slot machines. Nothing worked. Frustration! I talked to one of the crew.
Crew Member: None of the machines are on. We are not out of port yet.
I looked around. How did I miss the fact that there was no one else but me in the casino? Bumbling fool indeed. I moseyed back to George trying to maintain my dignity.
George was a Bumbling Fool:  I find that George was trying to clip something on to his belt. I was noticing this because I was waiting for him so we could go to dinner and I was HUNGRY! Finally I asked…
Me: What are you doing?
George: Clipping on my flashlight.
I looked and yes, indeedy, he was clipping on the little purple mini-flashlight I gave him a couple of years ago. I did not expect it to come on the cruise.
Me: Why do you need a flashlight?
George stared at me for a brief time. I think he was trying to come up with a reason why he was wearing a flashlight on a cruise.
George: In case the boat loses power.
Me: Oh…
Luckily, it did not.
Later that night I noticed something.
Me: George, you have a light flashing in your pants. Is that your flashlight or are you glad to see me?
George: Well, that is embarrassing.
Jeanne: It certainly gives a new meaning to “Hot Pants!”
Jeanne Gets Yet Another Turn:
We go to watch an awesome show, titled Burn The Floor which is a very fast paced Latin dance show. We were in awe of the dancing quality and the fact that the girls wore these unbelievable high heels and don’t fall down.
On the way out, my own two graceful legs got tangled up in my purse strap, and my cane and it took me 5 minutes to be able to move again.
George and Jeanne Perform as Bumbling Fools Together:
On one of the island tours, George and I were arguing about a defunct sugar mill that we saw.
Me: It is the same one we saw back there.
George: No, it isn’t.
Me: Let’s ask the driver. Then you’ll see.
Me: John, is this the same defunct sugar mill we saw back there? (We had to explain defunct, which I think he suspected might be a bad word.)
John: Oh, no. This is a different sugar mill.
Me: (I was not pleased with his answer.) Curses! John, I will give you 5 bucks if you will say it is the same one. (all passengers are enjoying this conversation)
George: I’ll give you 10. (laughter from the peanut gallery)
John: No, that would be dishonest and there is no good to be had by achieving something through dishonesty. (He made me feel like a guilty politician for Pete’s sake. I decided to drop the subject!)
Lest you think that I ran out of bumbling fool stories, let me say that my writing space gave out before my stories!
Bumbling Fool #1 and #2

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Cruise 2014
Norwegian Getaway Ship

Safety First
Before you can have any fun on a cruise, you have to do a Safety Drill.
George wanted to get ready for the Safety Drill. He dove under the bed to drag out the lifejackets. He made me put my arms up in the air so he could fit it on me properly.
Then he continued to read the directions.
“Jeanne,” he said. “It says here that we have to dress in warm clothes and bring all our medications.” I am picturing us layered in our tropical clothing, laden with our meds. I made an executive decision.
“We are not doing that, George. I am sure they mean in the case of a real emergency.” He was disappointed.
He was also a bit disappointed when the steward told us that we did not have to put our life jackets on for the drill. He wanted us to feel the peril.
We got to the Safety Drill area, which was coincidentally a bar. The steward told us that we must scan our guest cards carefully because EVERYONE has to participate in the Safety Drill. Those whose cards are not scanned have to come to a Make-Up Safety Drill the next day or the next or the next. George and I looked at the slate of events listed for each day and guffawed at the fact that there were still Make-Up Safety Drills the last day of the cruise.
“Hey, George!” “I laughed. “Ha ha ha! There must be some losers out there who still haven’t done their Safety Drill.” It did my heart good to know that we did ours the first day and those slugs who never do anything on time might be having to do a Safety Drill while we were dancing in a conga line.
So back to the Safety Drill. Rules for the drill were simple: No Food, no drinks, no electronics. They want you to pay attention to them, not your drink, not your wiener, not your cell phone. I thought it was a good plan. Then I saw why we teachers have so much trouble getting kids to follow rules.
A nice looking family sat nearby. Mom, Dad and 2 boys. The boys were both drinking sodas and eating chips out of bags. Mom was on her cell phone. A staff member came by and asked them to put their food, drink and cell phone away. They complied until she turned around. Then they all went back to what they were doing.
“Hey, Mom!” I wanted to say. “Thanks for the great role modeling.”
Omar, the Almost-Comedian, was the steward who presented the Safety Drill over the very loud microphone. He could be very annoying if you were not on vacation and were letting nothing bother you. He would remind us of the magical sound when the cruise line wanted to get your attention!
“Ding! Dong!” would go the very loud chimes over the P.A. You were instantly to become quiet and listen for important news. During the Safety Drill, he kept trying to keep over 1000 people in our area quiet.
Omar: I have a feeling the magical sound is coming again soon. Listen for the magical sound.
Jeanne: (to George) I am going to give him a magical finger gesture if he does not get moving on this Safety Drill.
Omar: Listen and be quiet. The magical sound is coming on again.
Ding! Dong!
After 45 minutes of waiting for everyone to arrive and be quiet, the Safety Drill lasted about 3 minutes. I blinked and almost missed it.



Friday, May 16, 2014

Travelin' Fools

Travelin’ Fools

George and I are basic travel virgins. Local trips, a cruise,  a few flights. That’s it! Our positive travel experiences ended a couple years ago when we flew up to Illinois to visit family and attend my high school reunion. We entered Travel Hell on _________ Airlines. (I don’t like to be a name-dropper but I will tell you that it rhymes with “Hear it!”
Once “Hear It!” dropped us off at O’Hare airport, they wanted nothing more to do with us. Ever! On the day of our return flight, they did not come back to get us. They abandoned a planeload of passengers  at the airport for 12 hours, leaving us there to grouse and complain and rile up other passengers. The plane had a mechanical failure. No one else came to get us!  Were all the planes infected with mechanical failure? The tune“que sera, sera!” played out in my mind throughout the day. By the time we got home, despite our lovely parting gifts of worthless vouchers for a future free flight on “Hear It!” Airlines, we knew we were not going to fly on them again. We had learned something.
But we had another chance to be real travelers. This time it was for a family event, the graduation of my daughter-in-law, Ashlee, who graduated (with honors, I might add) from the University Of Louisville this past weekend. I scheduled the flights, being careful not to schedule any “Hear It!” flights. I was going with my old standby, “Smelta” Airlines. Unfortunately Louisville is not exactly the hub of the universe so there were no direct flights. OK, we were flexible. Alas, the morning of the flight I awoke with acute vertigo, a chronic condition that makes me walk somewhat like a drunken sailor. George now had 2 rolly suitcases, 1 heavy computer bag, and 3 bags to carry on, plus a drunken wife sailor.  The smile faded from his face pretty early on. The skycap took one look at me as he checked in our baggage and a wheelchair magically appeared. They whisked me away, not so good for the vertigo but rather like a roller coaster ride. George, unfortunately, was loping along behind, carrying whatever they could not store on my lap. So we were feeling pretty positive about how things were going. “Smelta” was taking good care of us so far.
Our first flight left FLL at 7:35 AM to go to Atlanta. At Atlanta we would have 1 hour, and on to Louisville. We planned to arrive at Louisville in time to get our rental car and take Cory and Ashlee out to lunch. We were excited. But it was not to be. North of Orlando,  the pilot told us that the cabin air pressure was not right and we had to go back to Orlando. He was hopeful that they could make an adjustment and once again be on our way. But it was not to be. All passengers were deplaned and there was a frantic sea of defunct travelers all attacking the red-jacketed people who were unfortunate enough to be there at the moment we arrived in Orlando.
Oh, and did I mention that this was Mother’s Day weekend? And the weekend of a million college graduations? Seems that you might want to avoid traveling on that weekend.
Announcement: “For those of you who are worried about catching a connecting flight, there is another flight for Atlanta leaving in 45 minutes. There are 100 seats available.”
 There was a stampede of people much more agile than us, a stampede the size of the Cabbage Patch Doll Run one Christmas. The seats were taken by extremely fast people before we could blink.
The cabin pressure problems made our previous plane inoperable and it never did resume flight that day.
We spent most of the day in Orlando. We finally got out to Atlanta and then Louisville at 10 pm. Such bad luck, you say. Wouldn’t you think we would be due for some better luck on the way home? We were more philosophical now. “Smelta” had given us 100.00 worth in flight credit so we felt loved and valued.
On Monday, our day to go home, we arrived at about 7:30 am at the Louisville airport. Once again I am met with a wheelchair, since I still have dizzy spells. We happily get on our “Smelta” plane and start to taxi. Then…the announcement.
“Uh, we are going to go back to the terminal. There seems to be a hydraulic leak. Now it could be that the mechanic can just adjust it and we will be good to go (Where had I heard that before?) but we need to check it out. Stay seated while we call the mechanic.”
Then…”The mechanic will not be here for about 30-45 minutes.”
Then… “I am going to ask you to deplane since it would not be good for you to smell hydraulic fluid.” We are grateful for his concern.
This time George sprang into action and got us on a later flight just in case. Unfortunately it was not until 6:30 pm. We had the rest of the day to chill. Finally we were flown to Atlanta. Our flight disembarked on one continent and our connecting flight was on another. Atlanta airport is a crazy place. It was a freakin’ city for Pete’s sake. They stuck me in a wheelchair again, rolled me at warp speed to a train car like at Disney and shoved me inside while the car moved at super speed. I hope not to have to go anywhere else in that metropolis airport.
We get to our gate and have 2 more delays. One because the plane is late and one because the stewardesses have not arrived. The plane is supposed to leave at 10:05 but the stewardess team is on a flight from Pittsburgh. They have to deplane the passengers at 10:00, speed to our airplane and get us all on the plane, still smiling. I organized a team of volunteers ready to act as stewardesses if it would help. One young man, Jacob, offered to perform the safety lesson and I was positive I could pass out pretzels if my vertigo would calm down a bit. We could wing it.
The stewardesses finally arrived, negating the need for our help. We were ready to board. Everyone seemed quite calm except Important Guy. You know him. The one who is most inconvenienced by all of this.  You can easily tell who’s the most important one. 1. They walk in important strides. 2. They have a scowly look on their face. 3. They have a phone piece permanently attached to their ear. 4. They show great impatience with people who do not understand how terribly urgent their business is. 5. They are rude to the people trying to help.  (He told them they were just a bunch of “red jackets.”) Really?
So we saw the best of human nature and the worst of human nature. All I can say is I’m glad to be home. We arrived home at 1 PM, very glad to not have any more immediate flights in our future.

Our collection of boarding passes, just from this trip!
Never travel without your rubber chicken.