Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Cruise to Aruba - The Duel

A quick thrust met by a beautifully timed, under-the-arm deflection, the encounter was heating up! The old woman pulled her hand back, her gaze fierce. The young, immaculately dressed server, a Filipino girl in her early twenties, waited a moment, then once again graciously stooped before her seated guest to once again offer a canape. The determined adversary paused, then shot her wrinkled hand out yet again to grab the delectable morsel she wanted directly off the serving tray. She had no need for decorum or manners, she only wanted that little sandwich. And once again, youthful reflexes and intense training prevailed as the young server swiftly bolted upright, lifting the heavy tray out of reach while using the tongs in her other hand to deftly deflect the old woman's outreached hand before it could touch any of the Hors d'oeuvres on the serving tray.

This was more than a test of skill versus determination, this was right versus wrong, good versus evil, professional against amateur. This was training and etiquette defiantly defending protocol against ignorance and bad manners.  Even worse, this was a battle between two women.

The young server's eyes were now half shut in contempt as she held the treasure-filled tray far out of the woman's reach. She waited for several moments, gauged the old woman's next move and shifted her weight in anticipation of the woman's next attempt to snatch one of the offered canapes with her bare hands. This would be the fourth attempt. 

The server had already asked for the woman's plate to place her selected canape on, but the woman obviously had never been served before and simply expected to stick her hand in and grab whatever she wanted. The young hostess was determined to serve her guest whichever item she selected, but only properly with the serving tongs. The seated woman was an attendee of the Captains Cocktail Party. That made her a Captain's Circle member, a gold card member, a passenger who had sailed previously on Princes Cruises, and should know better manners. However, she still had not acquired any command of basic courtesy. She sat with her empty serving plate across a low cocktail table from her husband who simply sat quietly and watched. All she wanted was that little sandwich!

She withdrew her arms all the way to her side, appearing to hold her hands in her lap. She waited until her husband offhandedly distracted the server with an inane question, and with lightning speed, shot her arm toward the silver serving tray. With the deftness of a matador fighting a charging bull, the server spun and once again lifted the tray out of the reach of the seated aggressor as if they were an avant-garde play.

Finally, after what seemed like an embarrassingly long, glaring put-down, from a distance well beyond the reach of her seated antagonist, the server rather dramatically pointed with the tongs at the assumed target. The gray-haired woman started to point, then tried once again to pick up the treat she wanted, but this time the serving tongs firmly grabbed the canape and thrust it toward her. She had no choice but withdraw meekly, looking at her prize waiting in mid-air. When the old woman took it with her bare hand instead of allowing the morsel to be placed on her plate, the expression on the server's face first showed contempt, then finally the smirk of victory over a far-lesser foe. Youth and training had prevailed over age and determination, not to mention a complete lack of grace and social training.

As the server turned and moved to the next table, the old woman once again glared at her. I think she wanted seconds.

Next: Home again - Sailing to Ft Lauderdale

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