Cruise Ship Friendship
Waves of Kindness … Waves of Kindness … Waves of Kindness …
“Wait! Wait! I want to give this to you!” That was the older woman with the organza hat, waving me down as I gathered my luggage after disembarking Queen Elizabeth 2 in Southampton in 1983. At the time, I was stressing over where the heck I was supposed to catch the Boat Train to London and whether the Boat Train was, in fact, a boat or a train (it was my first trip across the pond and I hadn’t done much research). The excited woman looked vaguely familiar and as she approached I remembered that I had spoken briefly to her in the Midships Bar one evening—maybe for 10 minutes.
RELATED: Hit the Deck – Chair Hogs
“You sounded a bit uneasy the other night, going to London all on your own. Here’s my phone number. If you run out of money or need any help, please give us a call!” And then with a kiss and a flourish she was off to board her taxi, leaving me grasping the fluttering paper and thinking “Huh, this England place ain’t so bad.”
The whole world could be vastly improved if its inhabitants took a cruise now and then. We might have some chair hogs on board and a smattering of those who’ll never be satisfied with anything in life but in my experience, a cruise brings out the best in people.
Like last August, during a sailing to France – I bemoaned the fact that the following day’s shore excursion would prevent me from shopping for the sumptuous caramels that Brittany is famous for. Immediately, Franz, a lovely Austrian man, volunteered to pick some up for me, and the next evening presented a shopping bag filled with every variety, including caramel sauce and caramel cookies. He flatly refused payment or my offer of a bottle of wine. At last, seeing I was hellbent on compensating him for what was a truly an extravagant gift, he arrived at a solution: “When you return home,” he said, “If you would send me a bottle of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, we’ll call it even.”
Franz’ pantry is now stocked with multiple bottles Frank’s Red Hot Sauce and I like to think of him and his wife in an elegantly-appointed Viennese dining salon chowing down on heavily sauced chicken wings as if they were at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo.
Cruise Ship Birthdays
I can’t forget my mom’s birthday aboard SS Rotterdam when each person at our dinner table arrived with a small gift (I still have the Holland-America scarf that Jackie from Ohio gave her). Or the time my back went out and a woman offered me an ibuprofen (this was pre-Advil days) that literally saved my vacation. Or the guy who ran across the pool deck in a sprint to return the camera he noticed I’d left slung across the chair I’d been sitting in. Or the one who killed a yellow jacket in our cramped little van when he saw I was on the verge of a panic attack.
Today’s world seems filled with confrontation and anger, but step aboard a cruise ship and people become what they’re meant to be: caring, generous, and kind.
Except, of course, for those chair hogs.