Saturday, November 12, 2005

My most embarassing professional moment

Cruising with retired homies ain't what it's cracked up to be

Several years ago, as I was just starting out after college, I was hired on by North Star Cruiselines to serve as the night shift Entertainment Steward on their New York to London trans-Atlantic voyage.

One of their representatives had seen me in action one night while I was in college, where I frequently volunteered as a DJ at fraternity parties. My natural talents at working a party crowd into a throbbing frenzy, whether drunk or sober, were obvious to most even at a young age. And I liked the challenge.

The whole market model of this particular cruise ship service was to attract recently retired passengers for some "roaring 20's escapism." The shipping lane went through the North Atlantic ice fields as the customers, newly unshackled from the responsibilities of making a living, partied on and laughed in the face of the apparent danger.

Normally after a night shift I'd go catch some sleep, but on one day I went up to the tee range, driving golf balls off the deck for hours on end, trying to hit passing ice bergs. I was working to 'sustain the lag' during my downswing, and having pretty good success groving this particular 'secret of the golf swing'. I was enjoying the joviality and digging with some of the passengers, who had gathered to marvel at my shotmaking prowess.

Whether it was because I hadn't napped following the previous night shift, or the chill North Atlantic air or the hard excercise, or a combination of all three, but I became pretty tired, and the sun was beginning to set.

One of my duties each evening was to program the Muzak system, piped into the ships restrooms, hallways, decks and elevators, for a 12 hr intervals. I simply had to make some musical selections and load the play list of about 100 tunes, and hit 'replay' after the last tune just in case it doesn't run through the night and it can start back at the 1st tune of the list.

Well, as I mentioned I was tired, and when I get tired I tend to get a little goofy. So I added the theme song from the movie "Titanic" deep in the middle of the playlist. I figured maybe one or two guys with enlarged prostates waking up to urinate might hear this at 3am and get a little chuckle from the irony.

Unfortunately, before closing the window on the playlist page I somehow managed, without noticing, to check the replay box on the "Titanic" tune and simultaneously delete every other song in the play list!!

So what ended up happening was that the only song piped out that night on the Muzak system was the "Titanic" theme....over, and over, and over again.

I went to my cabin to take a little nap before going on shift, only to fall asleep immediately before setting my alarm clock.

I didn't learn of my mistake until the next morning, when the captain woke me up. He told me that all of the ship's passengers, and some of the crew, had begun assembling on the decks in life jackets beginning at about 1 am, and that by 6 am it was a full panic situation!!

The captain was kind enough to stay in my stateroom to help me compose an explanation and apology to our passengers, which I went out on deck to read shortly before breakfast.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why didn't all the old people go back to their rooms? Did they really think they were on the titanic?