I have been on the ship here for quite some time, I have observed what I would consider "many things". I know, however, that not all is as it would appear at first, or even after a while.
For example: Any new crewmember
, upon waking after their first night asleep in their bunk, will head bleary eyed to the dining room for breakfast(if they can find it). Regardless of if they are on time or not they will see people, someone, maybe me even at reception, but they will see people. To them those people, if they did not arrive on the same flight the previous night, will seem like they have been here 'quite some time'. Of course there are exceptions, some people retain that stunned fish look for a week or so and are thus obviously also new, but usually if a person arrives even a day before they will never know unless they actually become friends and talk about it.
One of the things I have observed here is the series of questions, The Questions. When an 'old' person makes first contact with a bewildered 'new' person they ask for a name (introductions are a vestige of polite society, but don't let that fool you). Then they ask for a location, an originating point. The next question is where they will be working, and the last, generally, is how long they are here. There are more questions on occasions, like when a boy catches his eye upon a girl, then an actual conversation may start, but these are the universal four.
Name and workplace are useful for finding or avoiding someone dependant on the answers to the other questions. The reaction to location varies from asker
; they may find the common bond of hometown-homestate
/province enough to become friends; or a strange faraway place may frighten or intrigue; for some a language barrier could spell doom for any friendship, or it could provide much entertainment for the rest of us. Generally though there is indifference, the grimace of a forced smile as one listens to the other tell of their adventures in the land of the firsts youth, usually touristy stuff. For me it is usually a story or two of when they went skiing in Whistler.
The last question surprisingly(at first) carries more weight than the others. It is not that we are a judgemental lot, weighing a persons value against their commitment in time and money, but it really comes down to a matter of investment. It is our investment in time and energy into making a new friend of this person we have been polite to. To an extent we do this at home too, or at least I do. I only have so much time and so much energy in a given day, and only so many days in a week, month, and year, so I'd rather build quality relationships that give me the most for my limited resources. Now this may seem a selfish and insensitive way of viewing things, but really I'm using a quantitative vocabulary for something that goes far beyond numbers in red and black. But I don't want to get all into the mushy emotional side of things, how one person or another makes me feel and how that feeling is valued by me as compared to how it might be valued by you.
It is not all cold and calculating either. One must understand that to survive here you have an absolute need of certain types of relationships. If they do not exist you become strange, and we have quite enough people starting out that way to be adding more because of "simple" circumstances. The types of relationships needed, I believe, are directly tied to ones own answer to the fourth question; How long am I here? It is also my opinion that the longer a person is here for the less they can do without a strong relationship, I won't give examples of observable failures. So a person must arm themselves with friends of the right mettle, and that in itself is a dangerous expedition. Too much carousing and you may end up with a bunch of friends who are bright and cheery and ready to leave in a couple weeks, forcing you to start over. Too much serious philosophizing and you won't have any fun or see anywhere but the port.
But this is over-analytical
, and I doubt much of this passes the brains of those who do have fun and visit exciting places outside. I think most people, for good or ill, settle for the easiest route: the roommates and the coworkers. Six females sharing a room, assigned there by age and job classification, are likely to "get along". Males likewise, unless of course unconquerable differences exist, such as too much cultural distance, or a (silent) conflict over a target of desire (a girl). This is the easiest and most common method of gaining friends and crashing social circles, at least among the short termers
. Long termers
have gateway, and don't even get me started on how it might be more aptly called "How to Gain Friends and Alienate Everyone Else".
I am on the cusp. I am not long term by any stretch (thank the Lord my Savior!), but 7 months is a tad longer than the average of 2 and a 1/2. This provided me with a relatively interesting experience. At first I faced the difficulty of being assigned to deck 2, a two berth deodorant
testing facility. My roommate Atumbi
and I suffered from too much cultural distance. We rarely spoke. I next had to deal with a work team that didn't ever work together. Scratch the two easiest and most common methods of being not anti-social.
It was about two weeks of eating alone, or if people sat with me then in the presence
of others, and working alone, and being in my room alone. It was nice, to a point. Eventually though I was adopted :) There was a very nice group of longerish termers
that scooped me up and decided I was their friend. I suspect it was so they could beat me at every game known to man. I don't mind. It turns out their cautious watching and evaluating was pretty right on, I fit in well, and have even begun to win some games. I still value my alone time, but they know how to give it, they need it too. I've made other friends as well, and watched them leave, so I understand the social dynamic that a short termer
brings to a group of longish termers
and I am thankful for them. I think I will stay in contact with them too, something my 21 year old self even struggled with after 6 months of bibleschool
with the same people. And hey, apparently when I get married there is someone who will shoot my wedding for a song and a dance, quite possibly a literal song and dance.
This post seems to have gotten a bit sappy at the end. Dang you, you sweet, sticky friendship rainbow!!!
Labels: Introspection, update