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We cruised back to the real world

By John Toth

The Bulletin

The last day of our cruise is always bittersweet. We drown ourselves in entertainment and try not to think about it.

But eventually, the suitcases have to be retrieved from under the bed, and the packing begins. The carefree living in Neverland is ending.

Coming off our last cruise was all this and more. We already knew that the air conditioning at the house was having problems. We got the email on the ship that it went off when the temperature outside was around 100F. Our cats were not having a good time.

Our daughter and younger son were able to arrange for repairs, but the system was shaky. It was working, but there was a good chance that it would go out again. While we were enjoying the entertainment on our last night on Carnival Vista, we already knew that we were going to have problems as soon as we got home.

Welcome home, guys, screamed the dryer. Welcome home, guys, screamed the delivery van’s A/C.

It was better on the ship. Our toilet broke the last night of the cruise, and a repairman fixed it while we were watching a stand-up comedian. I lost my key card twice in one night. Guest Services cut new ones in minutes, no questions asked.

Cruises are live-away camps where these types of problems are routinely solved. The only objective is to have a good time.

The dryer was going out before we left for the cruise, but I thought it would fix itself while we were gone. Instead, it got worse.

The van A/C was a big surprise, because it was just repaired. The house A/C went out twice, of course, on the first day we were home.

“Do you want to go back on the ship?” I asked Sharon, my full-time travel editor and everything else in life.

I wouldn’t mind. Bad things come in threes, but these are three very bad things.

I called the A/C repair people on a Saturday, not expecting a response. Then I called my son, Bobby.

“Did you see the repairman fix the A/C? What did he do?”

“It was really simple,” he replied.

He went over it step by step. He told me exactly how the tech took off one side of the outside panel and pushed a switch that re-activated the unit. Then he told me to hose down the condenser coil for a few minutes after reinstalling the side panel.

We had A/C again. The unit is about 10 years old. It had a hard time keeping up with the 100F heat each day and shut down to protect itself from overheating.

“Thanks. It’s back on,” I said, my voice filled with relief.

Then the phone rang. It was the tech. He was about to come back, but I told him I took care of it. One problem solved.

Unfortunately, the car A/C and the dryer were not this easy.

Did I mention that we also had to go back to work because The Bulletin was not going to produce and distribute itself? That was another thing that we didn’t have to worry about on the ship. I love you, Bulletin, but sometimes we just need a few days apart - well, almost apart.

I bought the Starlink Internet package and worked some on the ship. But it was not the same as working in the real world with deadlines and problems popping up.

Packing on the last day is hard on the soul, but what’s even harder is getting off the ship after eating one last breakfast. With a sad face, I walked off the ship and stepped back on land.

But that’s O.K. If we did it all the time, it would not be special. In many ways, it was good to come back to our home and cat family.

Now, what? One of the car tires looks low. I’m getting paranoid. What else? Where is my pressure gauge?

“When are you going to fix me,” screamed the dryer. “Don’t forget about me,” added the van A/C.

Welcome home.


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