The Postscript: Staying optimistic on the open seas

Published 9:57 am Thursday, November 15, 2018

By Carrie Classon


“I am a very optimistic person,” our Norwegian captain reports, on a nearly daily basis during his announcements to the passengers. My husband, Peter, and I are sailing back home, across the Atlantic, on a giant ship and we eagerly await these mini-homilies on the high seas from our captain with the lilting accent.

The focus of our captain’s optimism varies: sometimes it is his belief that the swells will calm, sometimes it is that we will see the sun, it might simply be that we would remain on course. As a seasoned sea captain (even a captain of as gigantic a vessel as this) he remains cautious in his predictions. We are crossing the open sea, after all. But we will make it on schedule, he announces confidently because he is, “an optimistic person.” I like this captain and his optimism. I am also an optimistic person and, so far, optimism seems to have won out. The ship is making its way across the vast Atlantic right on schedule.

At dinner, Peter and I met a Greek man named Vasile who was enjoying his cruise immensely. “I am just so pleased with everything—everything has been first class!” he announced. Vasile was interested in how Peter and I met. We told him how we met online and he registered surprise when we told him what a wonderful thing we thought online dating was. He said perhaps he should give it a try. He was looking for company, he said, but had not had much luck, “I am always traveling too much!” he lamented.

Peter and I were enjoying the conversation with Vasile when something began to erupt on the table to our other side. First, we heard whispering, then angry muttering from six travelers of indeterminate nationality. An indignant man with a large mustache seemed to be the ringleader in the discontent. The details were fuzzy, but apparently his table had not received all their main course dishes in unison. There was a woman still eating her calamari appetizer (and let’s admit it, calamari takes time) when the entries began to arrive, and the man with the mustache was beside himself over this breach of protocol.

He finally gave up muttering and told the poor waiter, in a very loud voice, to bring all the premature entrees back to the kitchen. “Take them away! Take them back! Can’t you see she is not through eating?” He demanded. When this failed to get the reaction he was hoping for, he decided to escalate. “I want to speak to your manager! Bring your manager here immediately!”

Our pleasant conversation with Vasile was silenced and the restaurant fell quiet as the manager, a diminutive Pilipino woman in a suit which appeared to be a size too large came to the table to face the furious man in the mustache. He went on at some length about the poor quality of service while the small manager listened solemnly and Peter and I tried to ignore the ruckus. I wondered what would happen to the waiter.

Vasile was focused on his Cesare salad; he had specifically requested anchovies and the kitchen had placed several large sardines on top of the salad in an apparent effort to satisfy this request. Vasile was surprised. “Sardines!” he said, “on a Cesare salad!” I watched closely as he cautiously tried his salad.

A moment later, he broke into a huge smile. “I am just so pleased with everything!” Vasile declared once again, eating his unexpected sardines.

I smiled back. One more reason for optimism.

Till next time,


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