Public Shame #3: When the music died


“If you liked working for Royal Caribbean so much, why aren’t you still doing it?” you might ask. It is true. Working for Royal Caribbean was like a dream come true. I even wrote a blog post about it last year titled, “Why the last six months were the best six months of my life.”

Travel and see the world? Check. Constant warm weather? Check. Crazy low cost of living? Check. Meeting wonderful people? Check. A job working with kids? Check.

I spent almost six months on The Independence of the Seas and I was just about to embark on another six wonderful months on the same ship. As I wrote previously…

“Speaking of getting sent back to the same ship, I am doubly blessed to be going back to the Independence of the Seas on January 18th for my second contract. So, everything I just told you about that I loved about my first contract? Well, I get to have all those benefits and do it all over again for the next one (knock on wood – I could always get transferred to another ship)… No matter what happens, I’m just looking forward to life and the adventure that awaits. Whatever comes my way, I’m going to make the most of it and then move on to whatever is next. Who knows? Maybe the next six months will be even better than the last.”

So what happened? Well, I showed up on the Independence on January 18th and on May 4th I was fired. My dream turned into a nightmare. There was some grave injustice and incompetence involved, and lord knows I am certainly not blameless. Regardless of who is to blame, what actually happened is certainly going raise some eyebrows. When you find out how and why it all went down, it might just blow your mind.

And the embarrassment, the frustration, the shame… it has haunted me ever since. In fact, just the first couple of months home the whole ordeal plunged me into a deep depression: I struggled with getting out of bed, then with leaving my room, then with leaving the house. It was a grief and shame I could hardly bear.

There I was one day having a good time, hanging out with my friends, my adopted family, in paradise and loving life. The next day I was fired, thrown off the ship, and on a plane back to Chicago – all within a few hours, I might add. Losing your job and getting “evicted” within a few hours and taken away from the people who mean the most to you in the world is no fun. What on earth could I have done to let this happen to me? I’ll tell you…

Before you begin reading this story, however, if you haven’t already, I highly suggest you read my previous blog post, “Not Quite Human.” Many of the revelations about how my brain works, and how I socialize and interact with my environment – how I have great difficulty reading others and others have great difficulty reading me – will shed a lot of light on what I am about to tell you. It is about a 15 minute read.

Back now? Okay, let’s begin…

But before we begin, let me at least give you a quick warning: I have broken this down into chapters because when all is said and done this story is a good two hour read. The first two chapters only take about 6-7 minutes, but the longest chapter takes about 25 read minutes to read. It is a long story. It is a complicated story. But I promise: It is an incredibly interesting tale full of well meaning but flawed heroes and villains and a crazy work environment unlike any you’ve probably ever seen. This story really pulls back the curtain on what life is like working on a cruise ship and it unfortunately reveals some of the darker side of the life.