Wednesday, January 2, 2013
A Big Move and a Long Flight - Chapter 39
As some of you might know I have been writing my story since last March and now I am on Chapter 39 nearing the end of this long memoir detailing some of the crazy things I got myself in. So just for fun rather than have people sign up for the email sent out each week this day I am just sending this one out to everyone. It will probably be the only one I put on the blog for the time being though. If you want more just subscribe or send me your email and I will add you on.
Thanks again for reading!
Well I hope everyone had as good a holiday season as the one I had out there. The time comes fast and goes even faster when it does arrive but I am excited about 2013. I think it is going to be a very good year and I wish the same for you.
A couple of weeks ago I left you flying home cutting short my contract suffering from a sciatic nerve that seized me up totally and kept me from working on the ship. Flying home from Istanbul I remember the hard landing in Montreal after having sat on the plane for a long stretch and feeling the pain shoot up my back when the wheels touched ground.
Having no place to stay I called up my Scottish friends in Ottawa who had just moved into a house an hour out of town. She was a physiotherapist and said what I needed was to do some easy stretching exercises on a daily basis and just take it easy with some walks during the day. When she saw me she could see I was in bad shape.
I let the ship know I wanted to return in about 6 week's time and during the time I received some compensation from the company which was a pittance really but did provide me with some spending money. While staying with my Scottish friends I was witness to a few séances. They were from a clan in Scotland that were into the psychic realm. They conducted séances with others to bring back spirits of lost family members and they saw the future and other interesting things. They earned a living this way as well as working at some part time jobs.
During the time I was there they were still waiting for their Canadian visa. They asked me for a loan of $1000 Canadian dollars to further their visa application. I didn't know much about it but they needed the money and I was happy they could help me get better and give me a place to crash at the same time.
They promised they would pay me back but when I left I lost contact with them. I heard they had split up and had gone separate ways. I had lots of money so it didn't matter. The only thing I didn't like about them not keeping in contact was I met this girl while I was there I took a fancy to and I wanted to see her again but that was through them so I never really pursued that. Besides with me travelling for long stretches who knew when I was going to be back that way anyway.
Meanwhile my Mom was now living in Victoria BC and with Christmas coming up I thought I would fly out there and say hello before heading out again. My sciatic nerve was good to go so I would fly this time to the ship from Vancouver. It was December of 1994 now and my chance to go to Asia had not disappeared. They said I could join another ship that would be there already. The flight they bought for me was ridiculous. They had me flying from Vancouver to Toronto. Then from Toronto to London and then I would be there for 11 hours before grabbing a flight from London to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. Then it was an hour there without leaving the 747 then on to Jakarta Indonesia where I was going to get on the ship.
So it was 15 time zones over three days you could say. Instead of flying me west over the Pacific I was taking the world tour!
I get to Jakarta and I see in the distance past customs the agent holding up the sign indicating to me he was the one to take me to the ship. Except there was one problem. The duty officer wanted a bribe to let me through. He wanted my ring and watch! I said no way. He told the port agent to go away and I was deported out of the country! Now I showed him the contract in his office and that but it wasn't good enough. He wanted me to call head office like I knew the number and with the time difference no one would have been there anyway.
So that same British Airways 747 that got me there was being reloaded after being refuelled. I was hustled back on the plane with my suit case just making it before they closed the luggage hatch and taking off. No ticket no nothing. I had just flown 17 hours from London and now I was returning. There was another crew member from another cruise line who suffered the same fate as I. The stewardesses knew what happened and they felt so sorry for us they gave us free shots from the bar.
I got hammered and fell asleep part of the way back to London. It was turbulent the flight. I saw Merry Christmas Mr. Bean 4 times and Forrest Gump twice during those flights. When I arrived in London I explained what happened and they put me on a flight from London direct to Vancouver with the help of a flight attendant.
We landed in Vancouver and my name was announced to see the steward upon disembarking the jet. He asked me who was going to pay for this flight. I said call Renaissance Cruises and gave them the phone number. I had had enough. Tired and not having showered in a few days and travelling through 32 time zones there and back I just wanted to head back to Victoria.
Two funny things happened along the way. One was I had the same waitress at Heathrow asking me what the hell happened on my way back from Jakarta and the other my mother had already mailed me two letters since I left only a few days ago. Needless to say when I knocked on the door she was a bit surprised.
I was a bit fed up so I decided to set some roots. I wasn't sure I wanted to return to the ship after all this. I had the injury and this experience plus now I was heading toward my 35th birthday in a couple of months and I started to think I had to start thinking about planting my feet somewhere. All this travelling was getting too much. I didn't call back Fort Lauderdale to tell them what happened. I just rented out an apartment and signed a lease. It was a tiny bachelor.
A few days though Renaissance Cruises called and asked me what happened. I told them and they said that would be the last time they take crew on in Jakarta. But would I like to join the same ship I left when it arrives in Singapore on January 1st? I took maybe a couple of seconds to think about it and after getting reassurances that Singapore would be much more professional than the Jakarta experience I said sure. It was going to be via London again but this time a direct flight from Vancouver and then direct from London to Singapore.
I left New Year's Eve from London and arrived in Singapore January 1st 1995.
On that note I bid you adieu till next week. Only 20 months to go! Which will be 5-6 chapters in this recount of the years between 1979 to 1996.
Radio talk show host of "The Hospitality Industry News Network" and author of "You Only Live Once" about his early years traveling around and working on ships and foreign countries Steven blogs about his thoughts on the restaurant industry as he sees it today.
Check out his web site at www.stevennicolle.com for more information.