Alesund and Alcohol

25 Jun

I still don’t understand why the other photographers mess up their day by staying up late, drinking and smoking. I mean, this is Alesund. No rain, no heat, just a warm day in late spring with gorgeous landscapes full of rocks, sea, and greenery. We are given a four-hour window to explore the port, which suffices for an exhaustingly scenic hike, AND a snack in one of Norway’s oldest waffle houses. Yet, most of my coworkers prefer to stay up until 3 A.M., and sleep until noon, thus forfeiting any chance to relish the visual joys that Alesund provides.

Oddly enough most of the other photographers start their work day with a decent load of espresso, followed by various refills throughout the evening. Otherwise they certainly would use the next down time to curl up in a corner, or dangle from the next hose pipe like a seafaring sloth. I’m not trying to judge or criticise, but if it was only the money that was keeping me on the job, I would probably have quit way earlier.

Mountains of Alesund, Norway

Alesund. Can you think of a better place to vacate your mind of worries?

No wonder things get lost or damaged all the time, when people only stay awake through the overuse of caffeine. A few days ago we discovered that one whole session of photos from the last embarkation shooting was missing. Tonight I found that set of photos on an SD card that someone had dropped behind the PC. Had I not accidentally dropped my own card, we may never have recovered those missing pictures. I did not actually care at first, but when Assistant Manager Bobo entered the office and stood behind me, continuously bugging me to leave the office and start shooting, I suddenly felt determined to prolong my stay. No idea what he’s so stressed out about. I bring home some twenty-odd photos per night – two minutes in the photo studio won’t make any difference to me or my image count. Shouldn’t I rather make sure that my equipment is complete and well-maintained?!

Anyway, I sat down at the video terminal, and started moving boxes and computer parts about. I could easily do without my second memory card, especially since our department loses at least one card every week. But since Bobo insisted on me running about like a crazed rooster, I felt compelled to do the opposite. And thus I discovered the secret stash of lost memories – a pile of SD-cards and batteries that over the years dropped off the makeshift memory paddock on the video computer, and plunged into the abysmal darkness that my hyped coworkers never dared to check. Something like the Bermuda triangle for disposable electronics.

Houses and roads interweave in Alesund

Norway is a beatiful place, in various ways. You have to have a cruise job to ignore that.

There you have another reason for why I don’t fit in here: I don’t give in to the haze and the stress. I don’t “live” the cruise job. Nearly everyone else on our team is constantly filled up to the nose with caffeine and alcohol. (You read “nose”, and a c-word following, and you totally thought of an illegal drug. Shame on you!) One drug is to remember the work schedule, the other to forget it. The two substances don’t mix well together, so in order to keep the body in an upright position my coworkers have to down loads of that stuff, sometimes both in one sitting.

Of course, alcoholic drinks during duty are being frowned upon, and being drunk on the job usually gets people fired. However, since most of the staff and crew are constantly on the edge of being tipsy, nobody really notices, and certainly nobody cares. Security personnel smoke in their cabin, and bar tenders taste-test their own merchandise, so why should photographers stay sober? Yeah, I know, rules! But they don’t matter much, if you remember my previous blog on the subject. Rules aboard the ABC RypMeOff are more like guide lines for public appearance. As long as nobody is watching, rules are of no consequence to its valiant subject.

To summarise the conundrum, the photo staff is being chased about by cranky managers like banjo bunnies on a music festival. Staff drowns their worries in alcohol, resulting in short tourist days, and long coffee nights. The only value they gain is the butter girth from the crew mess, and that is not a feature that increases endorphin-levels long term. I wonder if I can stay with ABC Cruises long enough to see any of my coworkers graduate to full-time alcoholics. They have about ten more days before I leave the ship, so I may have to manually speed up the process. Maybe if I poke sour pot Henry a bit more …

Alesund, one of Norway's card fjord towns

Alesund, one of Norway’s post card fjord towns

PS.: There are some final updates to the photo gallery of Alesund. Look at all those pretty pictures!

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