I learned many lessons while aboard the Norwegian Sun on a cruise to the Western Caribbean Sea. The ship employs over 900 people, and they sign on for a minimum of eight months, working 10-12 hours per day, with no days off. They will be granted a few hours off here and there, depending on whether the ship is in port, but the work is long and arduous, especially for the cabin workers, the servers, the chefs, and the laundry people.
I took a three hour tour (thought of Gilligan's island - "A three hour tour, a three hour tour") of the ship and I was amazed at the sheer amount of boxes of frozen steaks and chicken and seafood, the huge refrigerated lockers of vegetables to be prepared (the ship serves over 15,000 meals in 7 days), and the amount of laundry to be done - 2000 guests, clean sheets and towels and washcloths every day, plus linens from the dining rooms and restaurants, as well as the laundry from the crew and workers). One person is in charge of the napkins alone! In his 12 hour shift, he washes, dries, and folds 5000 napkins! (I apologized for getting lipstick on mine the night before.)
Each person wears an identification badge, which includes their name and their country. Many were from India and Canada and the Philippines and other countries all around the world. It took me until the last day to find a ship worker who was from the United States. He was a photographer, and they work very long hours, snapping pictures before and during dinner, and at embarking and disembarking at every location, along with posing patrons at many lovely backdrops. They get some hours off when the ship is in port.
I asked the Shore Excursion manager about this lack of American workers during the tour. He said that some of the fleet ships under the American flag had to go under a different flag, because to maintain a ship under the American flag, all of the workers must be American, and they simply could not get enough workers to make it work. Which leads to the question, are Americans adverse to hard work?
I don't know the answer. If I were young, I think working on a ship like the Sun would be a big adventure. It would be a chance to see the world and learn something about hard work in the process. Of course, my parents instilled me with a very strong work ethic, one of the best gifts I received from them. As I grow older, I do not always see the same kind of commitment to one's responsibilities in the younger generation, but I believe that a work ethic is more of a personal trait rather than a generational one.
I enjoy working. Even though I retired from teaching, I still love to work and contribute to the well-being of society and others. I like to know that what I am doing matters, even if it is in some small way. I have always felt that our society would be better off if everyone would contribute and know that their contributions are appreciated.
How do you feel about work? Are you intrinsically motivated, as I am, and do you enjoy the feeling of a job well done? When I was teaching, I always talked about the importance of work responsibility, and for the most part, students were receptive. School work provides the foundation for one's life work.
Enjoy your work day and your accomplishments. Feel the good internal glow of finishing a task. Know that you are making a difference. Appreciate your own strong work ethic!
As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.
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