We're having a heat wave - it got all the way up to 61 today. Most of the snow and ice has gone away - at least around our apartment complex. We got daring yesterday and drove up to Harrison State Park and discovered that there is still a lot of 'stuff' on the ground and in the woods of the park. It's going to be a while before we can comfortably walk the trails at our nearest park.
All this is simply to admit that my mind wandered back to the Caribbean and the wintertime cruises we took a few years ago. I think we ended up taking forty or more over fifteen years on half a dozen cruise lines. It helped that I was an active
travel agent on official business on most cruises. A good way to mix business and pleasure, agreed? You know - take the cruise free and get paid for doing it is a pretty good way to live life.
We got to see a lot of places - ports on the East Coast and Canada, in the Mediterranean Sea, Hawaii, the Panama Canal, Alaska, and a lot of time sailing around the warm seas of the Caribbean. It was a rough life but someone had to do it.
The picture above is of a Dutch hat which was a souvenir of one of the East Caribbean cruises. It was created on the former Westerdam which had sailed earlier as the 'Homeric' (of the now defunct Home Lines) Bought byHolland America Line in the early 1980's, the ship was cut in half and another couple hundred more feet were added in the middle. If one looked closely they could see the difference in windows and portholes in the new section. We loved the Westerdam and she still sails the Mediterranean Sea under a different company flag.
But the Dutch hat brings back more memories than the ship - it's a reminder of an Indonesian young man who worked as a sreward on the Verandah Deck. He was very friendly and kind and one night near the end of a Fall 1997 cruise he came up to us and gave us the hat as a gift. It came totally out of the blue and we still treasure it. Yes, if you are wondering, we DID provide him a significant tip - not just for the hat but for wonderful service as well. Most of all, we were amazed at his artistic talent. So, hanging on the hall wall of our apartment is not only a memory of a wonderful cruise but of a very special member of the cruise ship team. I sometimes wonder what ever happened to Loderick - and I certainly hope he has enjoyed a good life since then.
Most of all, I'm reminded by this gift that it is also easy to take people for granted.
People like waiters, and stewards, not only on cruise ships but in our own neighborhood services. You may not get something as personal as a Dutch cap -
but hopefully those service employees will try to do their best to make your life better for their efforts. Give them a smile when you can - and share a good tip. They're trying to make your life more pleasant.