What do you mean by partially cloudy?

If there is one thing that people worry about on vacation, it’s the weather. With so much time, energy and money invested in a “once in a lifetime” experience, the last thing they want is for the weather to ruin everything, at least what they’d envisioned when looking at the bright and cheery brochure. People want to be in control of their vacation.  They go on advisory sites and read reviews. They call the company.   Although there’s always an exception (some didn’t know where they were going between the first and last port), most guests felt confident in every part of the experience except the weather.  Weather doesn’t care.

It was imperative that I mention the temperature during each morning’s wake up call. Blame it on the long days, the head-spinning responsibilities, the booze — I’d forget to look at the thermometer all the time.   I’d get to that all-important point in my spiel and freeze.  How did I forget again?  No matter how hard I tried to recall all I saw on my walk to the office the scene ended often with a blank thermometer.  To combat this forgetfulness, I decided that in the Caribbean every morning was 72 degrees no matter what.  Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras – 77. Alaska – 43. Southern United States in the springtime – 68.  I’m not sure if I ever really deviated from those numbers. God knows what the temperatures really were.

Like a sommelier being asked what wine goes with beef, I was asked incessantly which clothes go best with weather conditions. “Will I be hot if I wear this wool sweater?” “What do you mean by partially cloudy? Should I bring my sunglasses?” “Is 78 degrees warm enough for me to wear shorts?” “If I wear my sweater and it gets a little warmer, will it be warm enough for me to take it off?” I wondered, after 60-plus years of dressing themselves, why some passengers now found it was my job to decide if they should wear the silk or the cashmere shawl.

The only way to get through it without getting frustrated was to turn mundane weather facts into revelations.

This morning is a little chilly but later on it will get warmer.  You see that sun?  As the day goes on it’s going to get higher and higher in the sky and when that happens, boy will things will get hotter.  You know what they say here?  If you don’t like the weather just wait ten minutes and it’ll change. (They say that everywhere, by the way.  Every single, solitary place on earth.) My secret is to dress in layers. That’s why when it gets warmer you should have extra layers to take off or – this is great– put back on when it gets cooler.  I call this “layering”.

Some might call this approach “dumbing down”, but it’s pretty darn close to life on the ship.  These were some brilliant and successful passengers. They’d certainly navigated through more than I had in my life. When they are at home they dress themselves, raise families themselves and run companies themselves.  If you spoke to them like this at home they’d say “of course”, but when you’re relaxing under a palm tree on a no-name beach in Belize, even a can of Coke can feel different.

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