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I’m Cruisin’

It’s 6:00 AM and I just woke up. I’m on the M/S Jubilee somewhere in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. Lynn is still asleep. I’m cruisin’.

It all started a few weeks ago when Lynn said, “Let’s go on a cruise to celebrate your graduation,” (which is what she calls my retirement). I said I didn’t want to but Lynn said I had to. She has her ways. She bought tickets for a cruise to nowhere. Really. You just sail out to the middle of the gulf and turn around and come back home.

When we left home yesterday I was in a pretty good mood even though I would rather have been home cleaning out our nasty garage in the heat of the day. The trip to Galveston took about 11/2 hours. No problem so far. Since I had never been on a cruise, I didn’t know the drill so had to resort to following the signs. The first sign said “This way to ship terminal.” I was pretty sure we were going the right way because there were 900 other cars ahead of us going the same way at approximately 2 miles per hour. We sat/crept in that line for slightly more than 30 minutes before we saw the second sign which said, “Ship Terminal—drop baggage here.” Lynn gathered up her purse, which contained my wallet, and our suitcase and lept out of the car to “drop the baggage.” You actually don’t just drop the baggage unless you considered Lynn baggage. (This becomes a tempting thought later.)

Lynn had to stay with the suitcase while I went to park the car. I followed all the other cars whose drivers had dropped their baggage. After about 15 minutes, the line of traffic turned off the main road onto a secondary road sporting a sign that said “official cruise parking.” After 10 more minutes the line stopped dead and didn’t move an inch for exactly 30 minutes—I timed it. As it turned out we were somehow on the wrong road. When the line started moving again, it only took about 10 minutes to get back on the main road and to the right parking lot.

I drove into the lot only to be confronted by a person who said, “$20 please.” You may remember that my wallet and all my money are at the boat terminal with Lynn. I explained this to the unsympathetic man who was making a weak effort not to laugh. He showed me how to turn around to go back to the terminal to find my money. By this time I wished I had stayed in Huntsville and had all 4 wisdom teeth extracted.

I did find Lynn. The conversation between us was brief and completely unprintable. We went back to the parking lot, gave the attendant the required $20 and waited in the hot Texas sun in a 10-minute line for a shuttle to take us back to the boat terminal. At the terminal we got in a line of folks waiting to go through the security checkpoint. It took about 20 minutes to get close enough to the checkpoint to see what was going on. There were 2 guys working the x-ray machine—one would put bags, purses, etc., on the conveyer belt while the other used his x-ray vision to scan them. About every 5 minutes or so they would shut down the scanner and stand around and talk to each other. I don’t know why they did that or what they were saying. Maybe the guy with x-ray vision was describing the interesting “toys” he had seen in the cute redhead’s suitcase. After a brief conversation, they would restart the conveyor belt and get back to business.

We finally made it through security and were ushered to yet another line of folks who were actually boarding the boat. This line was outdoors in the midday Texas sun—the same Texas sun I mentioned before. The temperature was approximately 210 degrees—that’s only 2 degrees shy of boiling. (By now I wished I were back home having my wisdom teeth extracted without any anesthesia.) This line lasted 32 minutes. Once inside the boat Lynn stood in line for about 10 minutes to register. I sat in a relatively comfortable chair wondering if wisdom teeth could be extracted through the ear.

To say this whole process was inefficient would be an understatement. I used to work at our local university. I have known inefficiency. I have seen inefficiency practiced by masters of inefficiency, but nothing I have ever seen could compete or compare with my first boarding of a cruise ship. If you have been keeping a running total of time spent being herded in long lines—while resisting the temptation to go “moo” occasionally—we are now over 21/2 hours.

By now my mood had degenerated to an all time low. I was actually fantasizing about being back in Huntsville having all my teeth removed by a hostile street gang using only rusty woodworking tools stolen from the local high school shop class.

The ship which was scheduled to sail at 4:00, left at 6:10. Since we weren’t going anywhere in particular, I suppose it didn’t matter. More later.