Monday, July 30, 2012

Puke on the Paradise

Four years ago, my buddy Steve won a three-day cruise to Mexico and invited me to come along.  We were to depart from Long Beach, CA aboard the Carnival cruise ship Paradise of the Sea, arrive in Ensenada, Mexico on Saturday morning, and be back in Long Beach on Sunday.  Steve told me that one of the added features of the prize was that we were to receive unlimited drinks while on the ship.  So, it was our goal to drink more than the actual retail value of the cruise, which was about $375 each.

The ship took off at about 6:00 P.M. while all 2052 passengers and 920 crewmembers were poolside, on the Lido Deck, enjoying the Departure Celebration, a big shindig where everyone drinks fruity cocktails, wears leis and dances to a live band playing "Hot Hot Hot". By that time we were already halfway to Shitfacedville. As a matter of fact, we never even made it to the Departure party.  Instead, we found a nice quiet bar on the Promenade Deck where they served ice-cold Guinness and allowed smoking.  It was called the Rotterdam Bar and it became home base for the remainder of the trip.

Some time after 11:00 P.M., we decided that we should hit the late-night buffet and grab a piece of pizza, or a hot dog, or anything.  Just some sort of food.  We knew there was plenty more to drink and we didn't want to ruin a good time by getting sick.

As we were trying to find the buffet, we started talking with some older Armenian guys who were sitting at the back of the ship on a small deck that overlooks the Verandah Deck, where about four dozen couples were dancing under the stars and enjoying a romantic evening on the sea.  The Armenian guys had smuggled a bottle of Patron Silver onto the ship and were sneaking shots as they exchanged stories of their home county or whatever the fuck old Armenian guys talk about.  They offered us some of their Tequila and poured a shot for each of us into little paper cups.  We toasted, we drank, and I felt mine coming right back up.


I held up a finger - the international hand signal for "let me take this call," "I'll be right with you," or "I can't talk 'cause I'm getting ready to puke."  I excused myself and walked to the side of the ship, leaned my head over the railing and let loose.  Nothing but liquid, and lots of it.

It's funny, the things that you think about while barfing.  Like about the surface that you're throwing up on, or what kind of food is coming out of you, or about the noise that you're making.  At that moment I started thinking about the wind and how it was carrying my vomit down and toward the back of the ship.

Fuck. Fuck.

I turned my head just in time to watch four dozen couples get a puke shower, stop dancing, and look up at me.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

I quickly wiped my mouth on my sleeve, walked back over to Steve and the Armenian Guys, Thanked them again for the delicious Patron and told Steve "We've got to go. NOW."

It was dark, and neither Steve, nor the Armenian guys saw exactly what happened.  They just thought I got sick and wanted to go back to our cabin.  It wasn't until we were safely away from the back of the ship that I told Steve what happened. I purchased a sweatshirt and ball cap from the gift shop and put them on as a disguise and we headed back to the Rotterdam Bar to finish a long night of drinking.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The 25-Hour Work Week

This is a story of amazing stupidity.

Several years ago, I had a job selling restaurant equipment and supplies. It was a truly great job. I was paid a huge base salary plus commissions and bonuses. Most of my daily work was done outside of the office, visiting customers and drumming up new business, and it was very easy work; the company I worked for had no competition in the area.

There were four other salesmen that I worked with and they were all pretty good guys. As a matter of fact, during the two years that I worked there, the five of us became close friends. I think we all realized how easy we had it because we all started meeting up at about two in the afternoon for a few cocktails until it was time to go home.

We always went to the same place, a restaurant named The Riviera Grill and Bar. The bar was located in the front of the building and had a large window that looked out onto the parking lot. The bartender, Joseph, could see us coming and would have our drinks ready for us by the time we sat down. Steve always drank Gin & Tonic; Scott, Rum & Coke; Doug, Coors Light with a Tuaca back; Tim, Jack & Coke; and I always had an Absolut Greyhound.

Those were great times. We weren't tied to an office and there was no one breathing down our necks.

Our boss was a pretty good guy too. His name was Barry and as long as we did our job, he left us alone. And, since the five of us salesmen were putting in the same amount of energy and hours, Barry never had reason to suspect that we were only working about 25 hours a week, each. He had no reason to say "Jimmy, why are Doug's numbers always so high and the rest of yours so low?" We had it made. Work a little in the morning, then get drunk every afternoon. Now that's a job!

When the Christmas season rolled around, Barry told us all that he wanted to take us out for lunch and asked where we'd like to go. The Riviera. It was unanimous.

We all met in the parking lot and walked in together. And, what happened the minute we walked in the door? You guessed it. Joseph yelled across the room at us "Steve, Scott, Doug, Tim, Jimmy, you're two hours early. What's your friend having?" then, in horror, we looked at the bar and saw a Gin & Tonic, Rum & Coke, Coors Light, shot of Tuaca, Jack & Coke, and an Absolut Greyhound.


We were all let go during the first week of the new year.