Sunday, August 31

Embarrassing Moments

I'm just back from a nine-day cruise. (I know: my life is tough.) And while away, between getting sun-poisoning and seeing shows and valiantly attempting not to gain the pound-per-day they say cruisers gain - hopefully with success! - in the back of my mind I knew I had to come back here and write about embarrassing moments, so I spared it a few minutes thought. I figured I'd write about some of the embarrassing things I've done on previous vacations - like mistaking a parking meter for a duck feeder in Iceland or asking where the war is instead of the train station in France - but now that I'm here, it's going to go a little differently.

The first night of the trip, the cruise director gave a speech where he said he'd learned to divide the world into two kinds of cruisers: those who would be happy no matter what happened and those who would be miserable no matter what happened. It was actually pretty profound stuff coming from a guy with slicked-back hair. And as the week wore on, I saw that he was right. Moreover, I made a conscious decision about which group I wanted to belong to. And even moreover than that, I realized I don't want any part of being the kind of embarrassing person who takes pride in being An Ugly American.

Think about what you are exporting in terms of your country, your family, yourself when you go out into the world.

I saw kids that I was embarrassed for - kids who were incapable of placing their own orders at meals and never bothered saying please or thank you to the people working insane hours just to make a living. I saw teens I was embarrassed for - teens who thought nothing of berating some poor waiter for bringing them the wrong drink. I saw adults I was embarrassed for - adults who did far too many embarrassing things to mention.

Do you ever think about people who work on cruise ships? What their lives must be like onboard ship? They leave home and family for 8-10 months at a time, working 10-12-15 hours a day, every day, during their term of service. Can you imagine how grim their choices must be back home in terms of work and opportunity, for them to think this is a good idea?

Who cares if you get the wrong drink? Who cares if you have to wait a half hour for your party to be called for dinner? I may be a jerk - and in so many ways, I am; no, really. I mistake parking meters for duck feeders and I ask about wars when I mean train stations, only serving to reinforce our French friends' opinions about what Americans are really focused on. But so what? You could not pay me enough to be rude to some person who's working their tail off just to scrape by in life.

I work hard. I work pretty much 365 days a year - really, even when I'm away, I still work. But I work at something I love and nowhere near as hard as the majority of the world. It's a privilege to be able to afford a vacation - even if you have to work twice as hard to pay for it! - rather than a right to act like a jerk and take advantage of those less fortunate than you.

Think about what you are exporting in terms of your country, your family, yourself when you go out into the world.

This message has been brought to you by Sun-Poisoning Girl.

Oh and, by the way, my new adult novel, BABY NEEDS A NEW PAIR OF SHOES, pubs tomorrow, so be sure to buy a copy so I can start paying off that trip.

Be well. Don't forget to write.

19 comments:

Alyson Noel said...

I was a flight attendant for over a decade and before that, I lived on a Greek Island and worked in a hotel- both of which exposed me to some of the WORST behavior I never could've imagined!

Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time.

And no matter what, I choose to be happy!

A cruise sounds dreamy about now . . .

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Let's go!

Wendy Toliver said...

Huge congrat's on your novel, Lauren!
I've never been on a cruise but I can only imagine it's not all "Love Boat."

Jessica Burkhart said...

Congrats, Lauren! I've never been on a cruise, but like Wendy said, I bet it can be umm...interesting!

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Thanks, Wendy and Jessica! You're right about it not being all "Love Boat." And did I mention the sun-poisoning???

Gerb said...

CONGRATS on BABY NEEDS A NEW PAIR OF CHOOS! (Yes, I know it's shoes, but I still like your title better.)
Ouch on the sun poisoning! Hope you're 100% better.
I know what you mean about the cruise workers. They work HARD and live in the little cramped rooms below the guests, dorm style, sharing with other workers so they never have any privacy. They are away from home, for months at a time and might not have anyone around who speaks their native tongue so they can just relax. In fact, the concierge is on 24/7. Some slob calls him for something at 3 in the morning? He has to get up and get dressed and hop to and be cheerful about it. We've only been on two cruises, but we've seen the embarrassing behavior you describe, so we go out of our way to be complimentary and friendly to the staff - especially our concierge - and tip well.
Hope you had a marvelous time, despite the sun poisoning! Where did you go?

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Hey, Gerb! We went to Puerto Rico, Tortola and Samana in the D.R. As for being friendly to the staff, um, I think I offered to sponsor one Indonesian woman if she ever decided to come to the States - do you think I went too far?

Gerb said...

Lauren - LOL! You have friendly in the bag!

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

I know! But what do I do if - when? - she shows up???

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Lauren, this is a really profound, smart blog. Good for you not only for being so friendly (though I don't know what to tell you about what to do if/when that woman arrives!), but also for sharing it with the world via blog and giving us all food for thought about how we treat the people we interact with.

And happy book release!

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Thanks, Stephanie! As for the woman, if she arrives - I did give her all my contact info; yes, I'd been drinking - I'll just have to follow through on my word.

Sara Hantz said...

We have a motel and see the best and WORST of people..... ours is 24/7 but at least we can walk away from the place at times.... being stuck on a ship...OMG... no thanks!!!

I agree with Alyson when she says happiness is something you decide on ahead of time..... I LOVE being happy!!!!

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Me too! It's definitely a choice. Sadly, not everyone sees that.

Melissa Walker said...

Great post, Lauren. I choose happiness and kindness, too. And it's always nice to be reminded that our "work" is really such a privilege. Truly.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Thanks, Melissa!

Kelly Parra said...

Congrats on your new release, Lauren!

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Thanks, Kelly!

Simpson said...

I like reading the embarrassing moments. Maybe I'm the guy who take delight in other people's embarrassing moments.

olol

I recommand a website for you, I read the embarrassing moments everyday in the website.

http://www.YourEmbarrassingMoments.com

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Thanks, Simpson!