Friday 6th October 2017
Having just re-read last week’s entry I thought that I better do some damage control swiftly, before I jolly well end up getting fired. I feel like I made myself sound like a complete psycho in that post, when in reality only one of my multiple personalities has seriously detrimental anger issues.
When working with the guests I can be delightful at times, and often receive multiple and glowingly positive comments. You see I can be as gracious and charming as the next person in short bursts, it’s just the back-to-back cruising guests who stay for two weeks and insist on playing at the tables for ten hours every single night that are guaranteed to catch a glimpse of my darker side.
An odd few guests actually love my sarcastic quips and thrive on what they call “banter”. I find that there’s even a specific time of day that my special brand of humour is best received, which is usually very late at night, during the last few hours of gaming, when the imbibed patrons finally tune in to my idiosyncratic wave length.
Last night for instance, inspired by the need to be lovely and get myself back in the good books, I was a delight. To everyone. For the whole evening! This was certainly a first and now I fear that I’ve set the bar too high as far as everyone’s expectations of my behaviour go and from now on in they’re going to be constantly disappointed.
I discussed the guest’s days, likes, dislikes, dinner habits, answered a barrage of increasingly personal and intrusive questions, all without a hint of sarcasm or disdain. I showed new guests how to play our games and patiently answered their questions about the rules and gave advice on the best ways to win. I even offered hints and tips for the best things to do in the next port of call, pointed out the lights on a passing island and dished out interesting and informed geographical facts about the location, plus helped one old dear find the bathroom just in time before she answered nature’s call all over the floor.
You see I can do it, and I know full well that I can. It’s just the consistency that I struggle with. Every night starts the same way, good intentions, a few polite repartees followed by a message of good fortune, a offer of a drink from the bar and then it all starts to fall apart…
The questions start, the comments about the cards or hand begin, and my brain starts to groan. You see I’ve heard it all before. I know that your one card away from a good combination. I know that you hate 16. I know that the waiter/ess is taking forever and that your mortally thirsty. I know that it’s only £2 to play in your local casino and that a 5 card trick counts in your Grandma’s kitchen. I’m also sure that the service is quicker on other ships, that you’d prefer a “real” roulette table with a “real” dealer/therapist to tell all of your problems to, rather than our funky modern electronic version that pays out money better than an ATM. And as delighted as I am to hear in detail about all 87 of your previous cruises, I’ve actually heard it all before.
And by the way I don’t get to keep the money that the casino makes, the money that you insist that I take from you, but in reality you actually give willingly to me.
I try hard to remain cordial and polite as the questions and comments flood in, but usually after about question number 10 bad Amy takes over and the sarcasm starts to flow.
“Is it a complete deck that you play with here on the poker table?” one gentleman asks?
“No Sir, we take all the aces out before you get here each night.” I reply deadpan.
“I’ve got absolutely no idea what I’m doing!” shrieks one intoxicated lady as she stumbles into a seat on the blackjack table.
I lean closer across the table and whisper conspiratorially “Neither have I.”
When asked by one of the many wondrous spectators how long it took me to learn how to shuffle like that, I reply instantly with “4 Years at University.”
“Gosh really?” Is normally the response, “I didn’t know that you could get a degree in being a croupier!”
No neither did I, probably best you don’t Google that fact either, I silently smile.
If it was just the lovely guests and their incessant questions that I had to endure each night, then I could probably be slightly more pleasant for longer, but unfortunately our nano-casino is located in a corner of the “Live Room” a delightful live music venue.
Some of the musical talent on the ship is excellent. Some of it less so. Trinity, the three piece ensemble from Manilla in the Philippines, are top notch. Their guitar player is incredible and a joy to listen to.
Igor, the pianist, who represented his native Croatia in the Eurovision Song Contest, is also supremely talented. But even my favourite musicians can get a little repetitive when heard three or four times a day, seven days a week for months on end.
Imagine then my feelings of hostility towards the melancholy solo guitar artist, who has an exceptional talent of making every single song sound whiny.
By now, over 13 months working on this particular vessel, I know every beat of every track in every set. I feel like I could duet with most of the singers, albeit in an out of tune scaled cat kind of way.
Trying to deal cards and explain the vagaries of three card poker to some hard of hearing octogenarian, over the sound of the five piece party band not only gives me a sore throat but a sore head also.
From the time I start work, to the time I finish, there’s a constant stream of big hits, old classics and far too much ABBA. I hear Money, Money, Money played on the saxophone, piano, keyboard, drums and guitar on average 6 times a night.
Sunday nights is “Band Jam” night, a cacophonique mix of all the instrumentalists trying to out play and out sing each other. The 19 minute version of Tina Turner’s smash hit “Proud Mary”, that draws down the curtain on the chaotic set is like a form of cruel and unusual torture. Even hearing the first few bars of that tune is enough to bring me out in a cold sweat.
And don’t get me started on the “Show Team” who come and caterwaul with the band at midnight on a Monday…
Honestly I’m not a fan of music at all. I prefer silence as my sound of choice and can’t wait for the day when a mime artist is signed up to entertain the non gambling guests in the Live Room.
But just as the day starts the same, the soundtrack is the same, the day also ends in the same way. At about 1am, just as the music is starting to wind down, I feel pangs of remorse. These poor innocent folk are on holiday, simply trying to enjoy their vacation from work, life and the daily grind. They don’t deserve my vitriol. I start to raise my game again. A kindly smile, a consolatory sad face when they lose, a non sarcastic joke. I’ll even go to the bar and fetch them a drink in person if they want.
As they cash in their final chips, play the last few hands, I wish them all the best for tomorrow, remind then to set their alarm for their excursion, tell them to come back and try their luck again.
With a good beginning and a good ending, let’s just hope that they missed the middle part and that my cankerous reorts were drowned out amongst the sounds of Tom Jones’s delightful Delilah and Neil Diamond’s well loved Sweet Caroline…