Monday, October 15, 2007

Day 4 – Thursday – I see the sea, si?

After talking to the lady about her daughter that works on the ship, I am beginning to understand how big companies sidestep paying unemployment taxes, and maybe taxes in general. Just conduct your business three miles outside the U.S. of A. and you don’t have to pay taxes on it. And I thought Hallyburton only had the right to do that.

Almost all the ship’s personnel that you make contact with have an accent. Sometimes it is a Spanish accent, sometimes an Asian accent, sometimes anything else. The cruise line, apparently is a company without a country – it is cheaper that way.

Thursday was a day with no port-of-calls, not to be confused with potty calls. We headed back to the U.S.A. at a slow rate, I think I heard somebody say, 19 knots ph. I do not know how that translates into mph, but I think it is slow. It just seemed like we were peacefully gliding alone.

It is a small world. Here is a good example:

There is a Johnny Rockets Restaurant above the top deck. You have to pay extra if you to eat there. We decided to try it out. It is a hamburger joint, we knew that, they have one or two in Cobb County and at least one in Atlanta we have eaten at. But, we haven’t ate at a Johnny Rockets while at sea.

There was a line. We had to wait maybe as long as 30 minutes to get up to the front of the line. The young man ahead of us and his girlfriend asked us to join them when the waiter came to show them a table. That was very nice. The guy was very polite.

When we sat down we made small talk. The most common thing is to ask, “Where are y’all from?” – which I did. They both said they were from Statesboro, Georgia. I meant to tell them my two of my neighbor’s daughter go to college in Statesboro, at South Georgia University but never got around to it, the conversation drifted.

The girl said her father use to own a Duncan Donuts in Marietta. I asked was it on Sandy Plains Road, which is near us. She said she thought so. We said it is a small world, our son Adam worked at Duncan Donuts on Sandy Plains Road about the same time her father owned it we thought….. but adding up, I was beginning to question it.

The girl’s mother materialized and sat down. We talked about Duncan Donuts. They got rid of the one in Marietta and bought the franchise in Statesboro. I asked the mother was the one they owned on Sandy Plains Road. She didn’t know… she thought it was on East Something.

I carefully mentioned another person that I knew worked at Duncan Donuts on Sandy Plains Road, Scott O’Dell. The mother showed no recognition and kept picking her daughter’s french fries. By that response I was sure they were not there when Adam worked there. Scott O’Dell was a co-worker’s son. Scott married one of the daughters of the man who owned the franchise on Sandy Plains Road.

Then the father materialized. The father was dark like his daughter, or actually, that would be visa-versa. I asked him was it the Duncan Donuts on Sandy Plains that he owned and he said no, he owned the one on Johnson Ferry Road in Marietta – two brothers owned the one on Sandy Plains Road. He was right. I forgot until he said that, but two big Italian brothers owned that one.

Mystery solved.

After we had eaten we went out on the top deck outside the door and enjoyed sitting in the shade and attempting to read with the nice warm breeze. Three middle aged women were sitting next to us reading. I noticed one was reading a Stuart Brown book and I asked her how she liked it. The reason I asked was that I have two Stuart Brown books I bought used to read some day but keep putting it off for books I know I want to read.

Then, all 5 of us talked books for a while. And they went Parasailing on CoacoaCay Island the other day and had the time of their lives. They left their husbands at home and made it a girls thing. They all had school teacher personalities and all were loving seeing how many different drinks they could order and how many souvenir glasses they could collect. In Nassau they all rode around the countryside in those two wheeled things that you stand upright.

They also told us they were Statesboro, Georgia. We said, “Really? We just talked to a family and the boyfriend that lives in Statesboro.

“What is their names?” they asked.

We didn’t remember it, but it sounded German.

About that time the boyfriend walked by. I called him over and told him those ladies lived in Statesboro also. He asked them where they lived and when they told him he said that was near where he lived with his parents. He left and in less than a minute the Duncan Donuts mother walked up. She told us she wanted to talk to the Statesboro ladies.
We pointed a them and she walked over and started talking. She lives in the same subdivision as the three ladies, and just around the corner from one of them.

Small world.

We ran into the same couple who owned a 3-day BBQ joint that lost so much money. They told us they won their money back and then some.

We went to a cooking demonstration by the chief chef. He kept it simple. He demonstrated how to cook a chicken breast with apples and a splash of brandy, which flamed up, like it was suppose to do. He also demonstrated how to prepare a delicious strawberry dish.

His assistants handed out small samplings of the chicken and apples. It was very good. When the assistant came back to get the small empty plates, or saucers, I took mine and Anna’s and handed it to the assistant by reaching between two people. We were on the second row and the assistant was facing the first row. He signal to past the stuff to him which I did… A fork, with food goo all over it fell off the plate, and bounced off the back of the lady in front of us. It left a big gooey mess on her blouse. Anna sprung into action and wiped it off her. It was the same nice lady that worked at Disney World and wants to move back to New Jersey to be close to her kids and grandkids.

All over the boat there were people floating around with their portable trade – some were hawking drinks, some were hawking to let he or she take your picture.

Which reminds me, there was one long hall on the 3rd deck that all pictures of people were in little slots. You could walk around and pick out your pictures that you wanted and take them to the cashier and pay for them. We, on the other hand, looked and found two pictures of us. We took them down and threw them in a garbage can.

Bingo! Fairly often over the PA system they made an announcement to have fun playing Bingo. I thought that might be relaxing and fun plus the thrill of lightly gambling… well, that was my thought until I asked the price. $35. I think that is just for one game.

We walked through the casino a couple of times. The slot machines look nice and classic like, and there are blackjack and crap tables.

We just don’t know the games, so we kept our distance. We knew we would be throwing money away. A lot of people go cruising for that reason alone – to gamble. Not us, we go to look at people.

As we left for dinner we started handling out envelopes the ship furnished us to put our gratuities in. In all cases we put in a voucher, which we had already paid in a kitty, so to speak. With our waiter and the lady who kept our stateroom clean and neat we put in a little more.

At dinner, our dinner companions, the PHD and the Masters, forgot all about it – they didn’t realize this would be their last chance to personally give whatever to those who serve us… so, they said.

The lady that kept our bed made, ice in the bucket, new fresh towels, towels folded like little animals and whatever else, is a very easy going lady from St. Thomas. She goes months without seeing her family also.

After dinner we went to the Follies Theater for the last time. The singers and dancers had a tribute to old songs of the 50s, 60s, 70s, and even the 80s. Knowing of one of them made it more interesting, but she looked tired…. She was sluggish compared to what we have seen of her before. After thinking about it, I think the other times we went at the 7pm show, but this was the 9pm show. She was tired…. And I think some of the other cast members kind of dragged around also… I mean “dragging” compared to what I have seen them do… jump and leap high in the air, twist endlessly in a very high energy fashion…. Maybe that snout soup was settling in them.

This time we sat in the balcony. There are brass bars that runs just above the 3 ft retaining wall – I suppose for safety reason – but it blocked the view. Before, sitting down in the main part of the audience I was envious of the people up in the balcony because there always seem to be a support pole or something blocking your view. Now, a brass bar blocked the view and the only way to avoid it was to stand up then we would be blocking the view of people behind us.

I heard theaters advertise of no bad seats in the house. Well, this one must have been designed by somebody else.

After the show we dropped by the lounge we dropped by a day or two before. A Latino group was playing Salsa music. It was very good I thought. The same aged ballroom dancers we watched before were out dancing. This time the man had on denim. When in Rome? The lady danced as expertly as before. The guy is good too… the difference I think is the lady is expressive in her face, smiling and showing emotion. He on the other hand, rarely smiled, then it was a token half-smile, but probably technically his dance movements were good.

That got me thinking what if the Drifter character Clint Eastwood portrays in the spaghetti westerns danced to the Salsa. He would rarely change expressions, then only to grit his teeth, and was very stiff while he danced.

Also there were three other couples dancing. One couple I think the guy was almost two feet taller than his partner, another couple blended in, but the last couple stood out in a way, they were both drunk women. One time one of them fell over a chair and table. Should I have clapped?

We went to another lounge where a game of trivia was about to start. We got a card to write on. This is the same bar that the Chinese man had the Name That Tune contest. This time a Chinese woman was running the show.

A waitress served us Cokes and we talked her. She is from Chili. She has a child. She will not be home again to see her family until March. She said they normally pull into the home port in the morning, we get off by noon, and after noon a new bunch of people get on and off they go again. She said that was no problem, she had time to go to Wal-Mart and other shopping before the ship pulled off.

We found out from the mother of the dancer that the boat’s employees are not allowed to eat in the “guest” restaurants or gamble at the casino… which the mother seem to indicate that her daughter was unhappy about that. This waitress from Chili was perfectly happy with the system.

I also wondered legally could she even work while they were in port in the U.S. I think people that work on the ship from other countries could not legally earn any wages unless they were out to sea or at a port, other than the U.S.

Another couple walked up and asked could they join us (we were sitting by two empty seats). Sure. The lady asked could they be on our team for the trivia game. Sure, we again said.

To avoid each question, which I mostly forgot, we won the trivial game which was played by 11 groups. We were tide with another group and the Chinese lady asked one more question and the first one of the two groups to get it would be the winner. We slam-dunked it. All four of us were given a Navy blue baseball hat with the ship’s logo on it.

Then we went back to our cabin to finish packing and then we had to have our baggage’s out in the passage way by midnight, with color-code bands on each luggage. Ours were Brown-1.

I wonder who picks them up and sorts them through the night. Leprechauns?

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Blogger Jean said...

Great to see you back, Eddie. I've been away to a class reunion and weekend with friends. I think I had less annoyance on my trip; no tipping, no throwing up. I'm convinced now to never go on a cruise.

Oh, I did get lost, thereby getting to drive down Pine Mountain to the scenic little town of Hamilton. Then there was an accident that held me up in Columbus coming home.

7:41 PM  
Blogger ET said...

Mystery solved! I wondered where you wondered off to.
Just curious, were you held up in traffic in Columbus on Columbus Day?
I'm glad you got to see old friends.

2:08 AM  

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