Tag Archives: job

Sonderfall Maaßen: mach die Hobby-Paranoia zum Beruf

27 Sep

Eigentlich wollte ich ja nichts mehr über den Wahlkampf zum Bayerischen Landtag 2018 schreiben. Aber dann wurde dieser Maaßen befördert, und in Folge totaler Blamage aller beteiligten Parteien sehe ich mich nun genötigt erneut zur Tastatur zu greifen.

Dabei fing doch alles so harmlos an. Ende August kam es im groben Rahmen des Stadtfestes zu Chemnitz zum Handgemenge, wobei ein Deutscher erstochen wurde. Die Polizei nahm daraufhin mehrere Tatverdächtige fest. Das hätte es eigentlich schon gewesen sein können, aber wie sich herausstellte waren die Verdächtigen nicht deutschen Ursprungs, und das führte spontan zu Komplikationen. Denn hierzulande werden echte Deutsche gefälligst von echten Deutschen erstochen. Anstatt also die Polizei einfach ihre Arbeit machen zu lassen griff man in Sachsen eine handfeste Tradition im Namen des Fremdenhasses randalierend durch die Straßen zu ziehen. Also wie in Bayern, nur halt mit mehr Gewaltbereitschaft. Da haben unsere Ost-Nazis einfach demografische Vorteile.

Chemnitz via Getty Images

Nazis brauchen eigentlich keinen Grund um ihre Dummheit auszuführen. Aber wenn sie einen finden feiern sie eine schöne braune Party. via Getty Images

Im Rahmen dieser spontan zusammengeflickten Demonstrationen kam es zu unschönen Szenen bei denen anders-aussehende Mitmenschen durch die Straßen oder von Plätzen gejagt wurden. Auch das ist im AfD-geprägten Raum kein Novum mehr. Seit Jahren kursieren im Internet Videos die dokumentieren wo und wann Ausländer von Rechtsextremen angepöbelt oder angegriffen werden. Was genau also den Oberaufseher des Verfassungsschutzes, H-G Maaßen, dazu veranlasste sich ein einzelnes Video vom 26. August herauszunehemn und dessen Echtheit in Frage zu stellen lässt sich nur schwierig aufarbeiten. Vielleicht war ihm ja einfach nur langweilig. Jedenfalls ließ sich Herr Maaßen gut zwei Wochen nach der initialen Messerattacke dazu verleiten vor die Presse zu treten und die Geschehnisse zu kommentieren. Vor den Ohren des hochseriösen Boulevardpapiers „Bild“ sagte er: „Nach meiner vorsichtigen Bewertung sprechen gute Gründe dafür, dass es sich um eine gezielte Falschinformation handelt, um möglicherweise die Öffentlichkeit von dem Mord in Chemnitz abzulenken.“ Auf die angeblichen „Belege“ die der verfasste Schützer dabei zitiert warten wir bis heute vergeblich. Vermutlich weil er sich die genau aus der braunen Soße gezupft hat die auch seinem Chef, König Horst, als primäre Ideenquelle dient.

Jetzt kann man lange und ausdauernd darüber diskutieren, welche Personengruppen hierzulande Interesse daran hätten von einem „Mord […] abzulenken“. Da diese Art Vertuschungstaktik traditionell in den Arbeitsbereich des Verfassungsschutzes fällt, könnte man zudem meinen, Maaßen fühle sich einfach in der Befehlskette übergangen. Aber diese Diskussion hilft uns überhaupt nicht dabei zu verstehen, warum Maaßen lieber Verschwörungstheorien aus der Taufe hebt als zuzugeben, dass es in Ostdeutschland eine rechte Szene gibt. Es gibt bei uns im Osten viele gewaltbereite Nazis. Das ist schon lange bekannt, nicht erst seitdem der Verfassungsschutz erfolglos versuchte die NSU-Mordserie zu vertuschen. Rechte Gewalt lässt sich einfach nicht schönreden. Wegreden schon gar nicht. Herr Maaßen sah und sieht das anders, und genau darum riefen führende Politiker umgehend nach seinem Abgang von der politischen Bühne.

HG Maassen via Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz

Würden Sie von diesem Filz-Igel eine Verfassung kaufen? Mir fällt jedenfalls kein öffentlicher Posten ein an dem ich dieses Gesicht gern sehen würde. – Foto via Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz

Dem Superminister für Heimat, Inneres und Bau (letzteres gibt mir bis heute Rätsel auf) war es jedoch wichtig seinem geistigen CDU-Genossen den Rücken zu stärken. Selbst nachdem Vertreter seiner eigenen Partei Kritik an Maaßens Verschwörungs- und Vertuschungstheorien äußerten blieb König Horst bei seiner strittigen Meinung, dass Maaßen richtig gehandelt habe. Als dann der öffentliche Druck zu groß wurde um den obersten Verfassungsschützer im Amt zu halten, setzte sich Seehofer fix für eine Beförderung desselben in sein eigenes Ministerium ein: Maaßen sollte bei 20% Gehaltserhöhung Staatssekretär im Innenministerium werden. Selbst der SPD, welche ja in den vergangenen fünf Jahren nie mit Kritik an der Regierungsführung sparte, leuchtete diese Beförderung sofort ein. Frau Nahles, die Vorsitzende des inoffiziellen Merkel-Fanclubs, stimmte dem Versetzungsvorschlag umgehend zu. Über den enormen politischen Spagat der die SPD seit Jahren dazu befähigt die Regierungsführung zu kritisieren und selbige gleichzeitig zu unterstützen wird an anderer Stelle zu sprechen sein. Soviel Zeit haben wir heute nicht.

Frau Nahles jedenfalls begründete ihre Zustimmung zum Beförderungspakt mit einem drohenden Bruch der Koalition. Wozu wir eine Koalition überhaupt brauchen die sich nur mit sich selbst beschäftigt, und die ständig irgendwelchen Landtagswahlkämpfern Geschenke überreicht, sei mal dahingestellt. Was wir aber auswerten sollten ist die Sinnhaftigkeit einer Regierung die Verschwörungstheoretiker mit Beförderungen belohnt.

Warum kann der HG Maaßen eigentlich nicht einfach seine Arbeit machen? Seine Äußerungen im Rahmen der rechtsextremen Übergriffe rund um Chemnitz tun überhaupt nichts zum Schutz der Verfassung. Schön wäre hingegen, wenn der Verfassungsschutz mal hart durchgreifen würde gegen Nazis und Rechtspopulisten, also Leute die aktiv die Integrität des deutschen Staates gefährden. Glattrasierte Demonstranten die den Hitlergruß winken – sofort inhaftieren. Menschen die verbal gegen andere Menschengruppen hetzen – sofort einsperren. Aber da fühlen sich zu viele Politiker des deutschen Bundestages vermutlich selbst angesprochen, weswegen eine entsprechende Regelung hierzulande in absehbarer Zeit nicht greifen kann.

Indes hat Frau Merkel nunmehr eingesehen, dass sie selbst in dieser Affäre nicht schnell und hart genug durchgegriffen hat. In einer Pressekonferenz am 24.9. merkelte sie an, dass es irgendwie doof sei, wie die Koalition total am Volkswillen vorbei entschieden hätte. War ja auch nicht zu erwarten, dass der Pöbel sich einer eigenen Meinung zur Unfähigkeit der sie verwaltenden Regierung erdreistet. Frau Merkel hat jedenfalls eingesehen, was ein Mensch der komplette Unfähigkeit im Amt beweist nicht verdient: eine Beförderung. Jetzt gilt es ihrer Lobbyisten-Clique klarzumachen was er stattdessen verdient: einen saftigen Rausschmiss.

Wäre ich Sicherheitsbeauftragter eines Mechanikerbetriebes, und unter meiner Aufsicht fiele einem minderbemittelten Arbeiter der Schwingschleifer auf den Clownsfuß, und ich stellte mich unaufgefordert vor die Presse und sagte: „die Juden warn’s.“ Dann stünde ich am Folgetag mit einigen anderen schwer vermittelbaren Trotteln vor dem nächstgelegenen Arbeitsamt.

Wenn ich aber als Präsident des Verfassungsschutzes anstatt meiner Arbeit nachzugehen wilde Theorien verbreite, über die Inszenierung einer rechten Szene durch linksradikale Verschwörungsgruppen, dann schafft man für mich einen Posten als „Sonderberater“ im Innenministerium. Im Grunde ist die Botschaft aus dem Ministerium doch folgende: „Diese weltfremde Paranoia ist so ausgefallen und für unsere eigenen Zwecke zielführend, davon brauchen wir unbedingt mehr. Zukünftig machst du das hauptberuflich.“

Vielen Dank an die SPD, für ihr gewohntes Stammeln und Schweigen zu Themen die Wählen bewegen. Danke an die CDU für die Bereitstellung des Streitobjektes. Und Danke an die CSU für die bedingungslose Unterstützung realitätsferner Verschwörungsphantasien. Weniger hatten wir von Euch auch nie erwartet.

Urheberrechtsverletzung

Ich schätze ja bis Ende des Jahres ist der Herr Maaßen entweder von der öffentlichen Bühne verschwunden, oder in die Parteipropaganda der CSU integriert. Er passt da einfach rein. – Bild via paolo-calleri.de

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Farewell Cruise Photography

5 Jul low tide at the port of Invergordon, Scotland

I awake from dreamless slumber, knowing about the pleasures that this day holds for me: sweet release from heavily monetised tourism. I try to sneak out of the cabin in order to let the lab technician sleep. However, sneak options are limited, considering that I have to pack up my residual belongings that are scattered throughout this cell, while I also have a pile of laundry that needs to be returned to the Pakistani towel mafia.

First things first – let’s storm the staff mess! Being a clever lad, I bring my camera bag, and fill myself two plastic bags with bred rolls and fruit, and also fill up my water bottle with the apple juice substitute that the buffet personnel provides. Breakfast is as short as ever, for as always the buffet is lacking green vegetables or tasteful marmades. Bread and tea it is, for the last time in a long time.

Vegan breakfast for cruise crew

Farewell weirdly restircted choice of food items!

While I brush my teeth I simultaneously pack up my last things, and cram them into side pockets of coat and bag. I’d love to stuff them into my suitcase, but the latter was sealed shut by security last night, and reopening it would mean another long security check. And so my last little pile of personal belongings has to go into a shopping bag, and I am once more glad to leave the ship in Hamburg, from where I can take the train home, and don’t have to answer intriguing security questions at an airport.

ABC RypMeOff - crew cabin

Farewell tiny cubby!

Victory celebrations are cut short by my mandatory visit to the main office. Even though I am third in line it takes nearly an hour until I finally get to exchange my signed paperwork against my passport and sign-off note. It’s not that complicated a process, but it actually takes some fifty minutes until someone finally feels responsible for the growing line-up of crew members that block the hallway nearly halfway down the length of the corridor. Most of these people have a flight to catch, and it would be in the best interest of ABC personnel to move things along fairly quickly, but apparently nobody planned for this grand departure. In order to maintain order and happiness we decide to stage a hallway party, loudly celebrating our victory over fraudulent job advertisement by yodeling Irish drinking songs and stomping the appropriate rhythm into the metal floor. Since few of my crew members appears to have any positive relationship with rhythmic movement, we quickly have a scene at hand that looks like a friendly gathering, and sounds like a war zone. The terminal result is astonishing, and after nearly an hour of pointless waiting we all get processed fairly quickly.

My last conversation to any regular crew occurs on the gangway, where I meet one of the tourist managers, a mid-aged woman from Germany, whose accent is so thick that I expect her to wear a dirndl made from sausage and pretzels underneath her creased uniform. One of the Brazilian girls actually knuckles into our conversation, and says that she finds it funny to hear us talk in English, when in fact we are both German. The rebuke of my new manager friend includes words like “respect”, and “disgrace”, which are also words that I always thought of employing when talking about those Portuguese and Spanish conversations onboard, but always refrained from, because most of ABC personnel would just refuse comprehension.

I don’t care anymore. All the officers converse mostly in Italian. Most of the managers talk Rumanian. And the crew rarely speaks anything but Macedonian or Purtuguese, which pretty much excludes me from most conversations aboard. A bloody disgrace, if you recall that we are an international tourist hotel, and supposedly converse in English with the majority of our guests. As usual it is up to the Germans to teach the rest of the crew respect. And it’s up to the crew to refuse that lesson.

A good book and nurishing food . great travel combination

A good book and nurishing food . great travel combination

While I sit on a cold bench on the lowest level of Hamburg Central Station, a stiff breeze fluffing my hair, I feel the warmth of freedom and homeland slowly filling my lungs, and spreading out to my hands that grab another muffin from my stuffed photo bag. The two pears and a bag full of chocolate buns are the last physical reminder of this photo adventure. Most of the remaining baggage is emotional, so at this point it would be worthwhile to address everyone’s concerns about me deciding to leave a lucrative job. But I’m not going to; that’s a subject for tomorrow.

Today I celebrate my freedom. With a long train ride home. A good book in one hand, and the other in my bag, searching for more food that I retained from the ABC Staff Mess. Over the past two months I have tried myself on an almost regular job. But no matter how much certain individuals have tried to make my life aboard more comfortable, this adventure was cut short by the daily trudge, the corruption, and the general work attitude of ABC Cruises that values profit over people. This is not a healthy work environment; it’s not a job that I could embrace full time, and certainly not something that makes me happy. Considering what tiny value the company attributed to me, I made the executive decision to leave this job behind.

Mountains of Alesund, Norway

These views are something I will miss. But I am just not willing to pay the ABC Cruise Price for it.

I am German, Academic, Artist, skilled with my hands and my mind. I have other options to acquire money than by grinding my way through a tourist-powered mill, and I pity the people who don’t have my options. My search for employment continues, and if I ever return to the business of cruises, it will be as musician. Tomorrow I will wrap up this whole two-month ordeal with a blog post concerning my deeper considerations of staying or leaving, so that others might benefit from my process of thought. Or just laugh about it. Whatever you prefer.

But today: we celebrate. I’ll make a big Hullabaloo upon returning to my homestead. (My parents have no idea I am on my way home five months early.) I will play with the family dog, eat green vegetables, look out the window, take a nap when I feel sleepy, sit down where other people can see me, and not be bothered by any cruise officer insisting that I should not behave like a human being.

So long people, see you tomorrow for the final summary!

The Good, the Bad, and the Cruise – my evaluation of sea tourism

30 Jun A sceneic view of Molde Fjord, Norway

What is the ultimate promise of a cruise; what’s to be gained? Some people pay thousands of euros for a single cruise ticket, even before eventual flight costs. You can book a one-week holiday, all-inclusive, for four people in a cabin near the Mediterranean Sea, for about €1800. So, there must be something incredible about the cruise to make it worth the three-fold costs. Today I will examine what cruises offer, and what they actually deliver.

Don’t worry, I won’t go onto another rant about how awful ABC Cruises treats its crew. You have read enough blogs about that. Today we are anchored in Molde Fjord, and the imaginative scenery makes it rather difficult to wrestle up enough negative energy for a decent rant. Upon leaving the ship you are immediately surrounded by lush greenery and cute Norwegian houses in various building styles. The town itself offers various small parks, and the odd museum or traditional housing installation along the road.

A sceneic view of Molde Fjord, Norway

This view of Molde Fjord is certainly worth a journey. But why travel by cruise ship, instead of taking the plane?

The only point that bears loud advertisement is the traditional village core, where people are bustling about to set up a folk music festival. Apart from that, the whole town is relatively quiet. No market vendors crying their wares; no coppers chasing their man; no tour guides yelling at passers-by to book a trip around the freeway. Whoever wants to book a tour has to do so in advance, and a long line of buses at the cruise terminal ensures that every one of the four thousand guests aboard the ABC RypMeOff is able to visit the sight of their choosing.

Since we are only anchored for half a day in every port there is rarely the chance to book a bus trip upon arrival. You either do so in advance, or you have a nice walk instead. Thus, the whole holiday feels much more relaxed than a tourist trip to Italy or Morocco. The streets are not filled with gullible tourists, so there is little money in hawking out souvenirs. You just buy your gifts in a regular gift shop. Like people used to do back in the olden days.

The regular tourist hassle returns once you are back aboard your swimming hotel. Lollipop holders walk around with flyers for guided tours in future ports. The staff of bars and restaurants asks you to buy beverages that are excluded from your all-inclusive list. Photographers nag you about sitting down for a dozen pictures in their studio. And shop clerks try to up-sell you on their duty-free goods. ABC Cruises knows that you have money in your pocket, and they do their very best to relieve you from that burden, although you already spent five thousand euros to be rid of the regular tourist hassle.

Port café in Molde Fjord

Molde is a pictouresque town that is not yet burdened with hoards of hawkers crying their touristic gimmicks.

If you want to spend your holidays removed from the ordinary pick pockets and pendant hawkers, there are not many alternatives to a cruise. Our guests can genuinely have their quiet time aboard, even though it is frequently interrupted by the luxury department digging for additional money. It rarely makes for an obnoxiously intrusive experience, although for the kind of money people spend to be here I would have expected more professional distance from the shop keepers. Still, it’s infinitely more comfortable than being yelled at in a bazaar in Turkey.

Let’s get back to the pretty sights, though. There is a new port every other day, and Norway’s coast offers many breathtakingly beautiful places to visit. It’s basically an upscale version of the old bus tour. You get hauled around the country side, you sleep in a comfy bed with a questionable view (cabins with windows are very expensive), and you get to watch the cattle prance on the meadows while your hotel changes location. Some people love a new sight every day, and a cruise certainly fulfills that need. Sleep or dine when you travel, and enjoy maximum visiting hours as soon as you have reached a new destination.

This is the part I will miss about my job as cruise photographer. Every day you get a new chance to hike up a mountain, paddle through a fjord, or visit a traditional fish market. You get the whole variety of Norwegian coastal sights in one travel package, and you don’t even have to clean up your hotel room. There are faster ways of traveling, but there probably isn’t anything more comfortable or efficient than boarding a cruise ship, and enjoying the view from the poop deck as you make your way through the endless sea.

Fjord Town Geiranger

A cruise journey takes time, but it rewards with great views and formidable travel comfort. You don’t get this with a bus.

This is also the point where ABC Cruises often fails, though. Instead of announcing the most famous peaks or waterfalls for the viewers on deck, the cruise manager often just plays gentle music from tape whenever we approach or leave a port. At rare occasions we are sided by a group of dolphins, or trailed by a family of whales. But is up to your fellow passengers to spot the unusual sight; our cruise manager just doesn’t care enough to announce those tourist attractions.

I often get the feeling that this could be so much better an experience, if the managers just cared a little more about the guests than about their money. To draw this discussion to a close – cruises are valued for the opportunity to travel a vast stretch of countryside without rush or hassle. You only need to unpack you bags once, and you can still visit a good number of vastly different places. There is always food in abundance, so with the right package deal you won’t even have to worry about provisions for your field trips. (Just don’t let them spot you when you pack up your lunch.)

The Cruise View of Molde Fjord, Norway

A crusie ship provides a wonderful viewing platform. Often enough it gets crowded with tourists, though.

However, if you do book a cruise, I encourage you to seek out the cheapest options. You don’t need a cabin with windows, because you will probably spend most of your waking time sitting in a bar, standing on deck, or swimming in the pool. You don’t need to feel bad about not buying anything aboard, even if the cameras cost 10% less than in your local electronics market. You don’t need more food or drink than what you get from any all-inclusive package. Water, beer, and soda will do. Don’t give in to the capitalist luxury goods.

You can book a ten-day cruise for about €1000. That’s a bit more pricy than a tourist trip to Spain or Greece, but you also get to see a lot more of the country, and you are overall much more relaxed. Just don’t buy any of the extras. There are a lot of luxuries up for purchase, and none of them are needed for a great holiday adventure. In my two months aboard I have not seen a single port where I felt the need to book an excursion on my first visit. (Except for Reykjavik. That town was immensely boring.) So, take it easy, and try not to see EVERYTHING on your first go. If you have the money, give cruise a try.

The port of Reykjavik at night

Saying Good Bye will be quite easy for me. However, as a regular tourist you can have a lot of fun on a cruise.

PS.: The final composition of the photo album for Molde Fjord is done. Have a look, and see why people travel to Norway in the millions.

Good Bye ABC Cruises, Part 4

29 Jun deck of the ABC RypMeOff

As time moves on it is becoming clear that Ash is not much better a manager than his predecessor was. He has the brains and the determination to make the photography department deliver a great revenue stream AND good costumer reviews, but the people sitting in higher management basically keep him from making any discernible progress. We still don’t get a payment bonus for our great efforts. We still are performing minor tasks and services when we could be outside, refreshing our spirits. In fact, we even receive less spare time than we had under previous management.

MSC Preciosa 72

Shooting on deck is a pretty happy task, especially with a sight like this one. But lately we rarely do that anymore.

According to Manager Ash the heads of other departments are jealous of the great amount of spare time that photographers are allowed to spend in the field. Mateja and I are usually off the ship as soon as the gangway is down. I don’t know if anyone particularly watches us go, and thinks “wow, what a fabulous life”, but according to Ash the other departments are jealous at our great freedom.

Thus, he has added certain restrictions to our schedules. Every morning, after the ABC RypMeOff has reached port half of us have to perform some minor task, such as cutting paper frames, or polishing aluminium poles. We follow those tasks for about an hour, just enough to really mess up our mornings. Since we do those things in public, we have to wear uniform to do so, which means we are effectively losing two hours of light, by performing one hour of depressively mind-numbing labour. Like the prisoners of an internment camp we labour away, carrying rocks around the block, until the camp director decides we have suffered enough. Get up early, dress up, perform a task that a monkey wouldn’t be worse at, dress down again, wash hands – two hours gone!

Already the other photographers from the department are talking about leaving this job behind. In fact, on a quiet evening as tonight, as soon as the managers are out of sight, even the rank-1 photographers slink down in their studios, and start chatting amongst themselves. It was only a week ago that my colleagues were constantly pushing me to greater performance, and now they resign to the notion of resentment. Every other day we are told that we don’t care enough about our jobs, and that we are too lazy to deliver a good quality and quantity of pictures. Now even the most steadfast amongst my coworkers have enough of the daily punishment. If we are belittled every night, the least we can do is to make sure we deserve it.

Life aboard the ABC RypMeOff is grand

Life aboard the ABC RypMeOff is grand, and so is the price on the crew.

Meanwhile, good old cheerful Jennifer sprained her wrist (again), so that judgement of the cruise doctor prohibits her from shooting photos. Manager Ash took that as an excuse to take her off the team entirely. She still joins the meeting every night, but otherwise he forbids her to participate in any photo job, or even leave the ship. Any reasonable manager would give her a job that does not involve both wrists, like counter clerk or gallery look-out. We constantly have one or two photographers running around in the photo shop, helping people to find their pictures, and preventing photo theft. If Jennifer was here, we could have one more photographer out shooting pictures.

Jennifer even requested being put to work, but Ash flat out denied her request, although the doctor assured her that standing around would not strain her wrists too much. There is no liability involved here, so he really just wants her to suffer. “Either be back full-time, or don’t return at all” is his massage, regardless of what pressure it puts on the rest of the team.

He reminds us every night that any one of us could be replaced at a day’s notice. Apparently there are “dozens of photographers waiting for their chance” for every single one of us who is “too lazy to do their job”. I guess that means the department will rejuvenate and rejoice when four of us leave the ship, at the end of this cruise. Because for the four of us who are leaving there will be a few dozen people scrambling up the gangway, fighting over our wonderful jobs. Somehow I doubt the reality of such image.

Crew Bar aboard the ABC RypMeOff

Imagine you are promised the world, and then your employer keeps you confined to these colourless walls. How long could you fake compliance?

Costumer’s Choice, Photographer’s Worry

28 Jun Sea gulls by a lake in Tromso, Norway

It’s a rainy day, here in Tromso, Norway. A curtain of clear, cold water is draped over the city, making even the vast lake in the North of the town look gloomy. Still, Mateja and I decide to take a walk along the shore, enjoying the fresh air that blows the vague smell of wheat and damp air into our faces. Cruise life is always busy, so these extended walks take a lot of weight off our shoulders, pacing our schedules down to a manageable amount. It also adds the much needed physical exercise that we so dearly lack in our nights of standing around on board.

One of the trees by the lake is filled with sea gulls, and I wonder if this is just anyone’s favourite spot during a Norwegian drizzle, or maybe the lead gull decided that this would be the place to rest, and her whole flock of followers joined her. Or “him”. Who knows, maybe sea gulls have male leaders. That sounds strange, considering how lost I felt aboard the ABC RypMyOff, if it wasn’t for the lady photographers providing a sensible counterweight to the sheer hostility and insanity of the photo men.

Sea gulls by a lake in Tromso, Norway

Tromso was clouded in mist (much like the mind of my coworkers), so the sea gulls stayed close to the ground.

Anyway, people tend to move in groups, and the voice of the many always matters. To some degree. On the other hand, the individual appears to have little power over his or her situation. Take our cruise passengers, for example. Barely a day goes by without one of the passengers telling me that they much prefer my approach to cruise photography to the loud and obnoxious advertisement of the other photographers. I understand that. During every cruise we receive various complaints from passengers claiming that the photographers make them feel very uncomfortable, because we jump them with our camera and flash light on nearly every occasion.

Yet, when we look at the image counts there is a clear reward for this apprehensive behavior. Those photographers who hassle the wits out of the guests shoot four or five times as many pictures as I do. Many passengers even promise me that they will return later for a shooting with me, and an hour later I see them in the photo booth of one of my colleagues, although they told me “in earnest” that they detest their constantly nagging attitude.

This would be really disheartening, had I not already given up on this job. People come to me complaining about my coworkers, but then go to my coworkers to have their picture taken. It’s not just brutally dishonest, these passengers also actively choose their own shitty photographer. Sour pot Henry surrounds and plagues people until they give in, and because of that he shoots five times as many photos as I. So, who do you think management is going to keep, and who will be fired?

Predatory salesmen aboard the ABC RypMeOff

ABC Cruises breeds gruesomly agressive shop keepers. The sheepish customers are merely fertilizer.

As a paying passenger you have the choice of what behaviour to support, what kind of costumer service to receive. If you only purchase whine from the terribly pushy bar tenders, then only the pushy bar tenders will ascend in the ranks of ABC Cruises. After a few years of promoting people with a sales pitch only the intrusive type of salesman will be left on board. Not because we would not try a different approach, but because you, the costumer, decide over success and failure, and obviously it is more successful to constantly run around your table, and nag you about consuming something.

You, the paying people, have a choice, and the power to enforce positive change. You can either sit on a barren tree and crow with the other sea gulls, or get your feathers in the dry, and allow the nice German photographer to take your picture. The decision is yours, and it is mostly you who has to live with the consequences.

Botanical garden in Tromso, Norway

In May the botanical garden in Tromso is still a hodgepodge of rocks and shrubbery.

PS.: I previously showed you the city and botanical garden of Tromso. Today I added some landscape to the photo album. Have a look!

Peace and Pleasure in Honningsvag

27 Jun Open sea near Honningsvag, Norway

When I awake from peaceful slumber we are already anchored in Honningsvag. We’ll be here all day, so there is no need to rush. For a change I take my breakfast roles in the staff mess instead of packing them up for my hike. There is plenty of day time left before I have to return to the ship for the lunch buffet up in the guest area.

Honningsvag has always treated me well, even during the snow-covered days. The wide spread of the town allows for scenic walks around the mountains, and pretty views of picturesque cubbies. Today I decide to walk along the sea-side coast instead of crawling about inland. The icy wind would chill my neck, had ABC Cruises not provided me with a very comfortable jacket. I have to hand it back when I leave ship in a week, but until then I plan to make ample use of the resources provided.

Open sea near Honningsvag, Norway

Even with the clouds and mist blocking out the sun Honningsvag remains a beautiful patch of green

And so I have a peaceful walk, far away from the bullying coworkers, distressed managers, and noisy guests. Just a chill wind blowing across my base cap, and the call of sea gulls hollering across the vast open waters, periodically interrupted by a car speeding past on the nearby highway, shadowed by looming gray clouds. Salty air fills my lungs, and rocky ridges fill the view finder of my camera. Every now and then I bend over the rough-edged brown rocks to examine the scattered remains of plants and animals.

Apparently the sea gulls had a busy week. They wait for the low tide to pick up sea urchins from the low lying rocks, and drop them onto the higher cliffs. When the outer shell of the sea urchin is cracked they peck a whole into the deeper part of it, and dine on their gonads. You can have a similar culinary experience in Japan, where sea urchin testicles are one of the many delicacies. I would argue that not every biomass that can be scratched out of another animals’ abdomen is a welcome food source, but one better not question the feeding habits of those cranky Asians.

Anyway, I have a nice long walk along the shore, and pick up various sea urchin shells that start to bleach out in the sun. I give one to Mateja, just for the look on her face as she realises that small wonders still lie scattered across our rocky path.

sea urchins from Honningsvag, Norway

Here are the ABSea Urchin shells I picked up in Honningsvag. You can see where the sea gulls pecked out the gonads.

Since the passengers and the other photographers are out for a visit to North Cape, I have a rather relaxing time shooting portraits in the atrium. The manager was so kind as to provide me company in the form of Lolek’s wife. She’s only been with us for about ten days, so I try to divide my time equally between helping her with the portraits and listening to her rigorous complaints about the imagined hardships she has to suffer. When Manager Ash asks me why Lolek’s wife has shot three times as many photos as I, and she refuses to acknowledge that the guests I hauled in mostly added to her image count, I just smile and apologize for my lack of enthusiasm. After all, I will be here for another week, and the full depth of her incompetence and sulkiness are far more entertaining if Ash discovers them for himself.

There still are a few days left before I can claim freedom from this clumsy charade of cruise clownery, but I don’t intend to stick out my neck for anyone but myself anymore. Maybe Mateja or Marina, but I certainly won’t lift a bloody finger to push anyone else in this department along their path of self-destruction.

 

Honningsvag, Norway, seaside view

Honningsvag is not always draped in mist. But often I wish my mind was.

 

PS.: There are some final updates to my photo album of Honningsvag and North Cape. It’s worth a few looks.

Good Bye ABC Cruises, Part 3: Costumer Appreciation

26 Jun Sun Deck of the ABC RypMeOff

Oh, look it’s another boring sea day! Once again I am shooting portraits all evening, at my most favourite site, the starboard Plaza. The location is great because no-one ever visits. This place is so far off the beaten track that even the photo managers only drop by once or twice per night. They then check the quality of the ten photos I have taken already, and wish me luck to shoot ten more. Overall, I have so much spare time that I can easily invest in other activities.

Time to continue that list of pros and cons for leaving the ABC RypMeOff. Even though I have long made my decision, it provides me with subjects to ponder, which is pretty important when you’re tired, and bored, and you have to remain at your station even though your job is one of the most futile aboard. It also provides you, the valued reader, with a better perspective of life on board, which could be important, should you consider becoming cruise crew.

Sun Deck of the ABC RypMeOff

The Sun Deck of the ABC RypMeOff looks glorious. And indeed work aboard has a touch of glamour to it.

There actually are some pretty compelling reasons to take and keep a job as cruise photographer, especially for people like me, who had no professional experience with the camera before taking this job. Even in the six weeks that I held this position, and even with the very limited amount of practical training that the management gave us, I still learned a lot about photography. Not just the Rule of Thirds (look it up, it’s well worth it!), but framing, and cropping, and posing – I am so much more competent about shooting great pictures than I was before ABC Cruises offered me money. Imagine what I could achieve, if I stayed for five more months, gaining valuable experience every other day …

Alas, so much time passes between shootings and evaluation, and I have so few willing models that it takes weeks to see any improvement in the quality of my photos. Yes, I get paid to learn, but it is rather inefficient, which I find very problematic to accept. My inner German scientist hates that lack of efficiency. I could shoot ten times as many photos, if I stood at Berlin Alexanderplatz, and offered free pictures to all tourists. Now, I just need to convince ABC Cruises that Berlin would be a worthy target for their journey around the North Sea. Maybe reduce the size of the ship, minimize the space taken up by bars and restaurants, put some wheels under it, and call it bus. I could sleep at home, and be much more relaxed on my way to work. Come on, ABC, make it happen!

View from deck of the ABC RypMeOff

This is what the sun deck looks like wehn I yell “Photo please?” The view is still great.

Another thing I never used before are strobes. Maybe as a deterrent against drunks and thieves in Calgary City at night, but I never used strobes as a professional photography tool. Flash lights are quite useful for achieving even lighting in any type of situation. However, they are pretty useless when you want to shoot on the fly, and privately I barely do anything else. Maybe that will prevent me from ever getting a job as an “actual” photographer, so there is another career gone.

Shooting tourists is genuinely fun, and I am quite happy whenever one of the passengers comes up to me during the last days of the cruise, thanking me for my energy and support, and showing me the cool photos that I took of them, even though they never intended to buy any pictures in the first place. There is no greater ego buff than the joyful enthusiasm of a satisfied costumer. It makes me believe in myself, and encourages me to continue shooting. Even when more than half the passengers are tired of the continuous barrage of cruise photographers, some of our gusts are still new to this type of vacation, and appreciate our services.

As I mentioned before, life is more fun when you surround yourself with happy folks. Cruise life, even though it is a business first, sometimes allows you to do so. In those moments you can rejuvenate, rejoice, and learn. If you really want to learn about portrait photography, and are willing to slop through a lot of dough to reach your target, maybe cruise photography is worth a thought.

Clouds of Myst in Flaam, Norway

Views like this one make worth aboard as crew interesting. However, if this is all that lures you in, you may not be happy long term.