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When I asked one of the crew about why this was the case, he told me, “Americans are more likely to file a lawsuit for working conditions that are basically indentured servitude, whereas other nationalities are just…used to it.“Plus,” he added, “very few of them could fit through the door of the crew cabins.” Above deck were magic shows and slot machines, but below deck was like an urbanized honeycomb of the crew’s cabins, some turned into bodegas with anything you’d want from booze to DVDs to socks.” That was until the Yiddish-singing piano player, slotted to go before me, took the stage. When I opened the door and saw the inside, I almost had a panic attack. Name tags were to be worn at all times, and besides random drug tests there would be quizzes on the differences between muster stations and embarkation stations, weather-tight and fire doors, crew alerts and general emergency alarms, when to use a C02 fire extinguisher or a dry chemical one, what “alpha” and “daco” codes were, and how to identify a mass casualty incident.This guy annihilated so hard that at the end of his set, an old lady in a sunhat slipped him a number and said, “I got a daughter in Queens. “That’s where the shows are at, but first we got a ‘welcome aboard’ show. It was tiny, no windows, bare floor with a bed, a small desk, and a bathroom where I discovered later that, to fit onto the toilet, I had to jam both legs into the shower stall. My act would be graded based on such criteria as “Did comic receive big laughs at regular intervals? ” There were select allowable words for “family shows.” “Change ‘hell’ to ‘heck,’” the pamphlet read, “‘damn’ to ‘darn,’ ‘bitch’ to ‘witch,’ ‘sucks’ to ‘stinks,’” and “avoid words like ‘sex’ and ‘gay’ as well.” I had a total of two “family shows” and three or four regular shows, plus one “welcome aboard” show.
In the middle of my second late show I’d gambled on some material about being Jewish and being married to a black woman. ” Before I knew it, I was reaching for his neck, but JR slid between us and jammed a beer into my hand, miming a helicopter noise while steering me in the opposite direction. Five minutes later: another announcement, then another, and another, all telling her to report to the front office with increasing urgency. A Filipino steward came in and dutifully looked in my bathroom and under my mattress.
Then there was the crew – the grunts mostly Filipino and Indian, the officers and the captain, who loved making unintelligible announcements at random junctures, Italian.