The Ship's Crew
I am developing an obsession with the crew. Their lives seem substantial imbued with arc compared to the leisurely routines of the guests. Beneath their smiles and courteous nods, there is the aggravation and frustration of working life. There must be.
Every time we bring Greta out, the Filipino crewmembers crowd around, say hello and smile at our daughter. We strike up conversation. Invariably, each Filipino crewmember has three or four children they haven't seen in six months and will not see for another two. They will only tell you this if you ask, and they do their best not to seem sad. When Laura was getting back onboard in Hawaii, she saw the Filipino crew crowded around pay phones, calling cards in hand, waiting to talked to loved ones.
The crew is packed into the lower decks. Only their top floor--the fourth--has a button on the elevator. It says "crew only." I am told that they have their own restaurant and also their own bar. This has become the only bar on the ship that I want to drink at. A beer goes down well enough after a morning of bridge and an afternoon by the pool. But this beer pales in satisfaction with a beer earned by a day of vacuuming, delivering room service, picking up socks and making beds, or changing an oil filter on the engine, or studying navigation charts and relaying messages to the Chinese Coast Guard. Life is being lived down there.
I overheard two room stewards talking in the hallway. There is a staff toga party coming up. I don't know when, and I don't know where. But I plan on finding out.