Chicago - Jul. 12, 2022
Music TV Politics Sports Books People Places & Things
Beachwood PP&T
Our monthly PP&T archive.
Rhymes for the Times.
Beachwood Bookmarks
So You've Decided To Be Evil
Vintage Beer Signs
Easy Bar Tricks
Best of Craigslist
Wacky Packages
Taquitos Snack Food Reviews
How Products Are Made
Everyday Mysteries
Chicago Zombie
Texts From Last Night
Fuck My Life
Awkward Family Photos
Ultra Local Geography
Best Pinball Machine Ever
Land of Sky Beer Waters
Calumet 412
Chicago Patterns
Vince Michael's Time Tells
Renegades of Funk Chicago
History vs. Hollywood

Serenade Of The Seas: Part Three

By Scott Gordon

Third of a five-part series.

My mom: "Some cultures don't have a sense of personal space."

Me: "Yeah, like cruise ship culture!"

The "luxury" cruise combines the corporate retail world's idea of "customer service" with an insecure three-star restaurant's notion of same to breed a helpful hydra, sprouting forced grins and goofy interactions that linger a bit too long. I truly feel bad for Royal Caribbean's hump-busting staff, but if they get any further up my ass, I will begin charging them rent. In what other situation would a complete stranger be allowed to waltz up to our breakfast table and feed my little six-year-old brother a few forkfuls by hand? I get the feeling most crew members might be required to have some kind of gimmick or trick, or that at least these people are pretty damn smart in their pursuit of tips and enduring loyalty to RC. While my dad and I were shooting pool yesterday, a server came up to the table next to us, tray in hand, and kept on balancing the tray as he wowed his customers by making a tricky shot with only one hand on the stick. A bartender the other night pulled out a magic trick in which a penny vanishes, then reappears, under a rocks glass.

Our waiter Michael dutifully calls us each by name as he greets us at dinner, and keeping all his tables happy must be one of the most frenzied jobs on board. At least a couple times a night, though, the waiters' closeness can be maddening. Example: I first decide to pass on dessert, but, after he returns with my family's desserts, plus a plate of cookies, I change my mind. I get his attention as I start jamming my face with one of the cookies; he scoots over behind my chair, hands on my shoulders, puts his face right next to mine; I shield my mouth and make a grunting sound so he'll back up out of my cookie-crumb-spraying range; he takes this as a no; I have to bark him down in a split-second before he can sprint off to his next spontaneous act of up-close-and-touchy service. By this point all the stimuli has really started to overload my brain, so all I can manage is to blurt out "Grand Marnier thing!" and chase him off with an exhausted wave of thanks. Christ, the strain this man experiences just to make sure we all eat our weight in fancy cholesterol every night is unthinkable. Another year or so of this, and Michael will be ready to tear shit up in the busiest, most glitz-choked eateries in the universe.

  • Part One: Into The Well Of Cheese
  • Part Two: Douchey young people
  • Of course, even in the sick, degrading "customer service" mentality, it is implied that they, the workers, are the dancing monkeys, and that you, the customer - well, they call us "guests" now, even at goddamn Target - most certainly are not, that in fact you may expect the same caliber of dancing-monkey ass-buffing whether you can even be bothered to grunt out a word of greeting or thanks to this person who's probably straining harder than you and probably making less money. Ah, but sometimes this sacred border, passed from the fief to the plantation to your local mini-malls, is breached here on the Serenade Of The Seas. Our first two dinners have been interrupted by ambushes of camera-wielding staff hoping to snap more pictures that we can buy up later as souvenirs. Just after our entrees arrived Saturday, and before we could lift our forks, a young Asian lady, rancid with chipper professionalism, began chirping at us to pose this way and that and "act like we like each other." They wouldn't dare try to sell cruisers pictures revealing how they really look while eating, after all.

    The second night, formal night, an equally cheery-pushy young man bounces up right before dessert and even prods me into getting up out of my chair to stand behind my sister and grandmother, generating another "memory" my folks will surely give the cruise line a few more bucks for. Just when you think you've received the full treatment, they dare to take you for one more spin that's just a little too much, and you're too rattled to do anything but steady yourself with another swipe of that room-charge card.

    Just looked up from my writing to see an older woman in a zebra-print jacket shake her bony old back-end to some more lounge-country gushing forth from the Well Of Cheese. I don't want to be male anymore.

    Tonight, we are attending "mystery dinner theater." I have signed us up for this precisely because I know it'll be a trainwreck inside a nuclear meltdown tied to two heynas trying to fuck each other. I will report back on this, I hope while full of wine.


    Making Memories


    Comments welcome.


    Tomorrow: The Skagway Jewelry Rush.


    Posted on July 15, 2009

    MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
    TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
    POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
    SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

    BOOKS - All About Poop.

    PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Don't Let Your Pet OD.

    Search The Beachwood Reporter

    Subscribe To Our Newsletter

    Follow BeachwoodReport on Twitter

    Beachwood Radio!