In my first travel blog post today, I wrote about a non-verbal interaction I had with a fellow cruise passenger during our “free” hotel stay in Stockholm. In my post, I issued a disclaimer that my impressions of that non-verbal interaction might have been off base. Sometimes, I do get things wrong. However, I don’t think I was wrong in this case. I’ve “heard” the same thing from other people who later issued similarly offensive communications in verbal form. It usually starts with someone glancing at you and looking like they just smelled shit.
I sort of expect these kinds of situations to erupt, especially when I’m among the especially privileged. I’d say anyone lucky enough to be cruising on Regent Seven Seas Splendor is among the most privileged of people in the whole world. Bill and I certainly aren’t wealthy, but we can afford nice things, and we do partake in luxury sometimes. However, we don’t necessarily look the part of the rich and fabulous. Consequently, sometimes we’re on the receiving end of disdainful looks from the more polished and obviously prosperous.
One thing I’ve noticed on luxury American cruise ships is that there tends to be a gamut of people. You’ll see super wealthy and successful types aboard– people with trophy wives (and husbands) and all of the trappings of success. And you’ll see a lot of much younger people who don’t look like they should be able to afford such a vacation. Experience has taught me that those folks usually work in the travel industry. My British “friend” who works in the travel industry tells me that people in that field can score insanely good deals on travel, allowing them to experience exotic and luxurious trips with the wealthy. You’ll also see people like Bill, who work hard and earn a decent wage for what they do– and don’t necessarily own beautiful homes, fancy cars, or memberships at country clubs, but are able to splurge on luxury cruises or hotels.
Not everyone who has money is an asshole, of course. Bill and I have met many really wonderful folks who have truly been blessed– both with wealth, and with fabulous personalities. But luxury travel also attracts a lot of self-entitled jerks who automatically look down their noses at others without knowing a single meaningful thing about them. This post is mainly about those types of people, who are fortunately probably in the minority.
One thing I noticed when I was on this particular vacation is that I suddenly don’t care that much about shallow, vain types of people. I certainly didn’t waste any time trying to impress them. I used to be more offended by that kind of behavior– snobby, disdainful, judgmental, and flat out rude. Now, I just think it’s kind of sad… and perhaps a little bit amusing. Imagine going through life looking down your nose at everyone just because you think they’re somehow beneath you, based solely on qualities as fleeting as how they look!
Most of the time, when I’m just at home with Noyzi, I look like warmed over crap. I don’t wear makeup. I usually don’t wear a bra unless I’m going out in public. I don’t fix my hair. I dress for comfort instead of style. Even at my youngest and freshest, I didn’t have a particularly nice figure. And yet, my husband shows me every day how much he loves and adores me. We always have a good time together, and never run out of things to talk about. There’s an endless stream of inside jokes and shared memories between us. And we clean up quite nicely, too.
Maybe it’s wrong for me to say that I don’t care about this “disdain” I sense from others when I’m out and about. I guess I do care, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this post. It’s just that this time, instead of feeling pissed off and outraged about it, I noticed that I was actually more amused. Because I think of some of our favorite memories, especially when we’ve been traveling, and they don’t include people like the guy in the hotel lobby in Stockholm. They typically include more down-to-earth folks like the hilarious Spanish bum we encountered in Seville back in 2014.
The most interesting and memorable people I’ve ever encountered are people who might get a disapproving glare from the “gentleman” we encountered on our cruise. Even the narcissistic guy on our second SeaDream cruise– who actually told Bill “Now I can see why you’d love her…” after hearing me sing– was at least open-minded enough to look beyond the surface. The guy we ran into on the ship will likely never know truly awesome people, because he’s apparently mostly interested in superficial things like a person’s outward appearance and attractiveness. And yes, I do think that’s sad and very limiting for him. What’s the point of traveling if you don’t want to encounter people who are different? He might as well stay home and hang out at the country club. I guess Regent could be considered kind of a country club at sea. 😉
Ah well… I suppose we all do that kind of judging from time to time. It might even be called a form of self-preservation. We size people up based on their appearances. Someone who looks clean, well-fed, and employed might seem more trustworthy than someone who looks dirty, unkempt, and in need of assistance, even if the clean looking person is a notorious cheat, and the homeless person looks the way they do because they gave a friend the shirt off their back. Most of us feel most comfortable around people who are like us on some level. And to be honest, I’m doing a fair bit of judging myself, based on that guy’s apparently negative attitude. For all I know, he only looked like he smelled shit because he actually did step in some while strolling around Stockholm.
One thing I noticed on our trip is that I no longer really feel like an American, even though I definitely am one on every level. I think when we go “home” again, I’m going to feel out of place, and there’s going to be a hell of a culture shock to adjust to… I’ve experienced it before, although the last time, I was actually looking forward to going “home” to America. This time, I dread the idea. And yet, it’s still my home, and there are people, places, and things I still miss there.
Well… I’m not sure how much sense this post makes, or even if it’s offensive on some level to some people. It was just something on my mind today. Travel has a way of erasing prejudices for most… at least those who are open to new experiences and meeting different kinds of people. It’s good for the soul, and good for opening minds and hearts. And I totally realize that maybe a luxury cruise isn’t the best place to be preaching about such things. But even on a luxury cruise, there’s a class system, and on some level, it is kind of hurtful to be deemed lower class… especially when it’s evidently only based on something as superficial as physical appearance (and by this, I don’t include what is written on a person’s facial expressions or revealed within their body language).
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, time to have some lunch and get back to writing up our trip!
(The featured photo is of me on the first night of the cruise, freshly scrubbed, made up, and coiffed… I was probably still too ugly to be in the presence of the shit smelling man in Stockholm… Somehow, I’ll have to find a reason to keep living. 😉 )