Friday, April 22, 2016

Bistro Still Life....

I am currently sitting in the Bistro located on the Tiffinay deck, which is the closest thing to a Starbucks they have on board this ship.  It is here that coffee and snacks are consumed by the cargo net full until it is time to eat lunch or dinner again.  It is our 6th sea day in a row and no matter how many activities the ship programs to pass the time, everyone eventually ends up here.  I have chosen this place as my office with the intent of writing. It has not been as inspirational as I hoped it would be.  Every day at 11:30 a string quartet begins to play in the grand lobby below. Although beautiful and inspirational, it causes the "hard of hearing" passengers around me to talk even louder to be heard. I get lost in the conversations taking place around me and can't hear that internal voice from which I transcribe this blog. 
Most of the time I just give up writing and draw. Here is a drawing of the orchid in a square vase filled with coffee beans sitting on my "office" desk/table. Yeah, I could have just taken a picture of it to post, but there is never a rush to do anything quickly on a sea day.  Besides the more time it takes me to draw something, the more conversations around me I can eavesdrop on. Here are just a few of the things I've heard already. 

Earlier in the week there was a near mutiny when the espresso machine went down. An elderly lady says,  "Excuse me can I get an espresso"
"I'm so sorry the machine is down. We are trying to fix it." 
Her more mature husband says, "What?" 
"He said the espresso is not working?"
"NO espresso?"
"No espresso, honey."
The old man looks at the menu.
"Then I'll just have a Lait." 
Waiter, "So sorry, we can't make a Lait. As I said the machine is down."
Old man, "What"
Old lady, "No Lait, there's no espresso."
"No, Lait and no espresso either."
Waiter, "We are working on the machine."
The man looks at the menu for a second time.
"Then I'll have a Café Americano"
Waiter, "Unfortunately a Café Americano is made with espresso"
Old lady, "There is no espresso, they can't make it."
"Good God, then what do you have?"
Waiter, "I can get you some coffee."
Totally frustrated the old man says, "That's all I wanted in the first place."

I talked to the Cruise Director who is a friend and loves his job. He said, however, that one of his duties is listening to complaints. He said, "I see the same people every two years who complain about the same things every time.  I think they pay $4000 a day out hear just because no one else will listen to them." You can see that idea at work here in the Bistro. Older people will engage young waiters in conversation about most anything out of sheer loneliness.  I heard a conversation between an octogenarian lady passenger and a twenty something Ukrainian waiter. It was obviously a conversation that was continuing from a former encounter.  

"So, what will you do when we get to San Francisco?"
Young waiter with a beautiful lilting accent, "I will go home, my contract is over."
"Will you come back on the sea?"
"I'm not sure."
"But it is so beautiful, peaceful and calm out here."
"Yes, but... I have to work," he said as he was took her used dishes to the galley.  

I learn a lot by listening as I draw here in the Bistro. By the time I do my show in a day or so I will know my audience very well. I won't know all their names, but... I will know them as: Espresso man, Lonely grandmother, Cougar lady, Weird hairdo woman, the old Grump and the Arguing couple. They will come to see me perform not knowing they have been doing a show for me all week.  
As you were, 


P. Grecian said...

I love your writerly insights. And I know exactly the experience (except for the "being on a ship" part). And you make me smile today.

Gwyn Oswin said...

I agree - the insights are wonderful. And the orchid drawing! Wow! I honestly wondered if it was a photograph at first. Beautiful work, Jay.