Final view from the top of the world – first published 20 December 2013

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The final day had arrived. The longest week in the history of the world was over, along with my job. The final views from the top of the world were disappointing, no blue sky, no sunsets, just cloud and a lot of howling wind gently rocking the building until we thought it might take off. Most of the work that got done involved Rose’s car and then there was champagne…

20 December 2013

So it’s finally over. There will be no more working at the top of the world looking out over this fair city, watching the beautiful sunsets, ruled by two week turnarounds and slightly mad entertainers. I’ll never have to get up at silly o’clock in the morning again to meet a ship or sit scratching my head over a choice of films. No more monthly magazine deliveries or updating the schedule. No trying to remember if the ship is in Civitavecchia or Naples.

One last walk to work seemed too drawn out and painful, I really wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible, like ripping off a plaster, so I caught the bus. Of course the bus was crowded and I was standing near the front, packed like a sardine and clinging to a pole. In the seat right in front of me a grey haired woman was talking on her phone, arguing with someone about whose turn it was to call and how little credit she had left. I couldn’t help thinking he could have saved her credit by not calling to moan about it but what do I know? When she finally ended the call she looked up at me.
“Are you alright there?”
“I’m fine,” I said, immediately wondering if I looked like there was something wrong with me and trying to look chirpy.
“Only, in my day, people gave up their seats for the elderly. It’s shocking how rude the young are these days.”
“I’m not that old!” I spluttered, going from thinking I might look ill to paranoia about looking like an ancient hag in one sentence. Honestly, I swear she was at least ten years older than me!

Thankfully my stop was next but I walked the rest of the way, half looking at the moon through the trees and the sun lighting up the church, half wondering if I needed to buy a new wrinkle cream or maybe start saving for a face lift. Ok, so there had been quite a few young men taking up seats on the bus but it had never occurred to me I might be more deserving than them. Elderly! Bah! I think I’m going to give up on busses for good and maybe I’ll buy a new wrinkle cream just in case.

Not a lot in the way of work got done. I read the Cruise Director’s report and sent a couple of dictated emails out. After that I wandered around looking at at the last views from the top of the world.

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Most of the rest of the time was spent trying to help Rose change a headlight bulb on her car. Who knew it could be so difficult? How many people does it take to change a Ford headlight bulb? Three girls and one burly South African security man.

First Rose couldn’t work out how to open the bonnet. Usually there’s a little lever somewhere but she couldn’t find it, we all looked just to make sure and there really wasn’t. Rose resorted to the car manual, seeing as we were still at the opening the bonnet stage this was not a good sign. Would you believe there is a hidden lock underneath the Ford badge on the grille!

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Stage one accomplished it should have been simple from then on right? Wrong! A screwdriver was needed to get the headlight out and, of course, we didn’t have one. This was where the security man came in. We went back inside and asked if he had a screwdriver, he did. Unfortunately it turned out to be too small for the job so we all trooped off back inside. This was when burly South African security man came out to help with one of those magic multipurpose tools all South African men carry about their person. Eventually he managed to get it unscrewed.

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The screw may have been unscrewed but the headlight still wasn’t moving anywhere. After consulting the manual again it turned out there were some clips that needed to be pressed. Even little girly hands were too big to get to the blasted things though, goodness knows how big handed mechanics ever manage it, so we moved on to plan B. Rose found a coat hanger in her car and started poking about with that. One clip came off but it then turned out both clips needed to be pressed at the same time to release the light. Enter South African man with his multipurpose tool again.

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Finally the light came free but we still had to disconnect it. The manual just said disconnect, it didn’t say you needed the strength of a gorilla to do so. Fortunately we had a South African man though, even if it did take him about five minutes and some grunting before the thing came loose. Rose quickly got the bulb holder out but the bulb just would not come out. The manual said ‘using gentle pressure turn anti clockwise.’ Gentle pressure turned out to mean, with the aid of a dinner knife and quite a bit of patience. The security guard had given up and gone back inside by the time the tenacious Rose eventually managed to get the bulb out. From then on it was easy.

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After that it was back inside for a photo call. Then there were some hugs, some wobbly bottom lips and a few tears. Just before we left the office Alice’s phone rang. It was the woman from the agency calling about the job she interviewed for earlier in the week. We all stood holding our breath and hoping it was good news, we needed some good news right about then. When she gave us the thumbs up we erupted into cheers and whoops. Anyone would think we’d all got jobs.

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Shortly after that Alice, Rose and I retired to the White Star to celebrate with champagne. Ok so it was only one o’clock but come on, we deserved it. Anyway it was either that or a bottle of cheap bubbly from Tescos, some plastic glasses and sitting in the park like tramps.

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Now I’m at home with a bit of a champagne headache and no job.

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Marie

Writer, walker, coffee drinker, chocolate eater, lover of nature, history and the little things that make me smile

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