Thursday, December 5, 2019

Relax, It’s Only a Christmas Party

A five hour flight on Alaska Airlines, and a four hour train ride, felt like a mere minute for me as I closed the books on 2019. I had spent plenty of Autumn evenings and weekends pursuing a list of home renovation projects, and had paperwork to follow up on.

During the sailing days, I had little time or physical presence to carry out handy tasks at home. So I paid contractors and handy people to take care of things in my stead. This earned me a little ridicule onboard the ship, with comments like: “what would you do if the toilet leaked on the ship?”. The implication being that ‘real men’ are inherently able tradesmen.

Now in a shore-based assignment, I assumed that time would be the most abundant asset. I no longer worked overtime and weekends, so I would “pay myself” on the weekends by doing handy jobs on my own. What I did not appreciate is that community roots form on land, and so do social obligations.The fiercely libertarian and independent deep-sea Mariner or hunter-gatherer survivalist makes up just a small fraction of society. The rest rely on each other.

This year, retailer groups bemoaned the short holiday shopping season, as it was already December when Thanksgiving weekend was over. It was Sunday, December 1 when the college co-eds piled on and off the southbound train from Washington,DC to various Virginia universities. I am a bit out of touch with holiday consumerism. I spent the last few Decembers and Christmases with bags packed, ready to go join a ship overseas. I moved bags of midnight snacks, not big-screen TVs. But I do feel the time crunch in the density of ‘holiday’ parties in early December: Civic League, alumni network, work parties ranging from work center, to department, and command level. On a government supply ship, there might be one Christmas party, especially if the ship has a home port. On a working container ship, with crew amalgamated from across the country and the world, good riddance with sentiment- “you’re there to work”.

To those of us in the leisurely class: throw back, relax, enjoy the season, count the blessings.

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