I had an awesome high school job. I worked for this dinner cruise ship that went around the L.A. Harbor. They had cheesy entertainment, which was I applied. Alas, at age 17, I was too young to be a server, but they hired me as a cruise director; yes, like Julie on The Love Boat. (Okay, that reference was relevant back in the '80s!)
I would make the seating arrangements and seat our guests, help the servers, answer questions, and then I'd get to sing and dance. It was my dream job; I could actually make money doing what I loved?!? I couldn't ask for anything more.
The catch was that the LA Harbor was about 45 minutes away. So with my shiny new license, I was navigating LA freeways and traffic. My mother was freaked. Looking back, I'm surprised she actually let me do it. At the time, though, I was thoroughly annoyed that I had to call her when I was leaving for work, call her when I got to work, and then, yes, call again, when I was heading home. So she'd know what time to start worrying. And now, it seems completely reasonable.
I was waiting and waiting and waiting to turn 18 so I could be a server. I just wanted to be like all the other grown-ups! Little did I know then that I'd hate waiting tables, and would rather be a hostess anytime. But back then, it was everything to turn that magical number!
Of course, just a few months before I was old enough to vote, I got the bad news: the ship was closing shop. I was going to have my first experience getting laid off due to a company shutdown. (Unfortunately, it would not be my last.)
Our last voyage was on New Year's Eve. Shortly before, we had a holiday party, and I didn't know beforehand, but they also handed out awards.I was thrilled when I won the award for Cruise Director of the Year. That plaque was such an honor for me!
That first job had to be one of my favorites of all time. Even if I may have been the youngest, the truth is, we were all so young. We created drama of course, we laughed a lot, and we lived for the cheesy musical numbers.
Fast forward 20 years: last fall, when Sylvia was doing Willy Wonka, one of the actresses came up to me and re-introduced herself. We'd worked on that dinner cruise ship together all those years ago! Now she had two children, was also a single mom, and her daughter went to the same school as Sylvia! We couldn't get over how crazy it was that after all these years, our similar winding paths had brought us back together again.
What's even better is, as much as I loved my life then, I love it even more now. And I love that I have those memories.
This post inspired by Mama Kat's Writers Workshop.