Surprise, lessons in graciousness you can learn on a cruise

It had been blissfully quiet in the iLounge on my ship.  I had been working away for an hour when the lounge began to fill with folks over sixty coming for their personalized help with the staff. Quickly the space which had been Zen like, took on a very different atmosphere.  made the mistake of wearing a white shirt and black skort that made me look like staff if you weren’t observant enough to notice that I was at least twenty-five years older than most staff and lacking a name tag.

The American walked past, stopped, turned around and came back. It doesn’t matter where we have gone in the world there has to be one who makes you glad your parents chose to immigrate to Canada.  You know the one I mean, the one that the other ninety-nine nice Americans wish they could disown. That’s the one.  He stopped by the small table I was working at, “Is there an attendant on duty here?” he asked with a touch of tone. The iLounge wasn’t a large space and there were clear lines of sight. My brain lit up with a variety of responses from the gracious to the obscene.   All the while I kept my tongue between my teeth because the obscene was threatening to spill out. Gracious speech overruled although the look he received over the top of my glasses was more withering than any of the words I had been entertaining. The look was a very effective defense. He backed away slowly, watching me the whole time. Must have been one of my best looks ever.

I returned to my work but the crowd was growing in size and intensity. Apple should have a warning on its phones recommending a maximum age, like the minimum age Hasbro prints on toy packages for children. The precious silence had been crashed by the endless chatter from one group about the rotation feature on the phone.  They talked and talked and talked.   I had no idea that the rotation feature could be the substance of conversation ad nauseum. The noise level was escalating.  One lady kept repeating herself over and over, “I don’t know how to fix it.  My pictures used to show this way then something changed.  Now they don’t. I don’t know what happened.  Someone changed something.” Over and over the same refrain bounced against the walls and ricocheted off the ceiling.

A calamity, to be sure.  A gentleman was gallantly trying to help by suggesting she check her settings.  It was good advice if she would have shut up long enough to listen to him.  There was a third female voice in the mix, “I had this all figured out on my old phone, then I switched to the iphone 6.  They said it was the same, it would be easy.  They were wrong.  It was different and I got mixed up again.”  From the other side of the iLounge others who were more computer savvy and already logged in were shushing the noisy ones. I was getting nervous because the crowd was becoming hostile threatening to turn on itself.  I feared being caught between swinging canes and flying iphones.

Fortunately, threats of a riot were averted when the attendant arrived.  Poor woman was nearly mobbed by a crowd of old folks.  I wondered how Celebrity decided whom to assign to iLounge duty.  It must have felt like purgatory for three hours a day, every day for the duration of the cruise. The noisy lady with the rotation issues had her phone fixed in less than thirty seconds once the attendant got to her.  One down, another fifteen or so to go, all in desperate need of attendant help to solve their first world technological challenges. Patiently the attendant helped one after the other.

The staff on our ship have been and continue to be amazing.  They are far from family and home, working hard to give us a memorable experience.  Some of them are homesick.  Their feet hurt and their backs ache after a day of cleaning and serving. We watch how some passengers treat the staff and we cringe. Fortunately, those kind of passengers are few.  The staff have graciousness mastered, they smile and greet you every time they see you no matter what has just transpired. From the comfort of a Celebrity cruise ship I will study graciousness in action around me for I have much to learn.