About four and a half months ago I took a job on a cruise ship travelling the Mississippi river.
Two days into the job, I left.
Now this wasn’t an easy feat. I was a server, and the dining room was dangerously understaffed. An altercation was guaranteed if someone tried to leave. This meant I had to organize a genius plan to get off the boat unseen.
In the middle of the night, I woke up to pack as silently as possible. I sat up, hit my head on the giant metal pipe directly above my bed, and got to work. The packing was the easy part.
Once packed, I snuck down the hall to the laundry room to hide my bags.
Now, the mission would truly begin.
I went to the very top of the ship to see where we were– nowhere close to port. I then decided it was my last chance to see what the guests got to see. I went to every floor and opened every unlocked door.
It wasn’t that interesting… I really don’t see how it was worth the thousands our wealthy customers spent to be there.
Anyways, after the uneventful exploration, I settled into a conference room with a plush couch. I tapped away at my phone, until the door popped open.
Luckily, it was a couple of deckhands I had already befriended. One smiled, spit his chewing dip into his cup, and asked me what I was up to in the middle of the night. I explained my predicament and he enlisted himself to help.
I learned that the ship wouldn’t be at port until right when the dining room staff had to report to work. They found me a nice spot on the deck to watch the ship dock, and said they’d let me know when it was good to go.
As soon as I got the call, I hit the laundry room. A well-timed knock later, and I was running past the now closed dining room doors to the elevator.
I walked off the boat unseen, and waited in the lobby of a nearby hotel in Louisiana for my Uber. I made it to the airport unscathed, then finally I was home.
Now, this is a good story, but this job was everything I had planned for my life thus far. I dropped out of college, and told my father I was going to work this job for the six month contract to afford the education for wherever I went next.
He was livid that after all my attempts at convincing him it was a good idea, I hadn’t even given it a week.
Now with my whole future riding on this boat, why would I jump off?
The moment I arrived at the boat, I was handed someone’s old uniform four sizes too big and told to put it on. Then, it was straight to work. After flying to Houston, and then New Orleans to get on the ship, I thought maybe I’d be able to settle into my new home. Wrong.
That night, I worked seven hours.
The next day, I woke up at four to start my shift. It was ten at night when it ended. That is an eighteen hour day.
At that point, I was fed up. Yes, this was all I had planned, but I know my value. Working an eighteen hour shift is completely unacceptable. Other staff members were so used to standing in a dining room for this long they had no feeling in their feet. My roommate had the biggest breakdown I’d ever witnessed. This comes as no surprise to me.
I had to leave, because nothing justifies letting corporations treat you as less than human. I had to leave, because I am more than a worker bee. I am a human being who needs sleep, downtime, and consideration.
After this fiasco, I went home to my Mom and buckled down to get a job.
Today, I’m working the best job I’ve ever had. I have insurance, paid time off, and the most accommodating and kind boss in the world. If I had stayed through the abuse, I wouldn’t be where I am today: happy and comfortably successful.
At the time, I was so unsure of what would happen to me. Now, I know that when you set high standards for the way you are treated, you will receive the treatment you deserve.
Never settle for less than you desire.
The reckless woman who abandoned ship