Don’t Forget to Sanitize

Dance Dance. Cramp Cramp. They say it can start rapidly. I hoped I could sleep it off. Thank God I’m not a passenger, I thought. It’s not the kind of thing you wish for on your vacation. For crew, Gastroenteritis is just another fun part of the job. We call it GI because it sounds cute. I can only imagine the experience a passenger might have their first time on the ship. They come on board and see hand sanitation stations everywhere. They wonder, don’t they ever clean this place? Workers jump in front of them with spray bottles of the stuff, terrifying them into cleanliness. Little Andrew starts feeling sick and suddenly he’s sentenced to his room for a 24 hour period and the whole family forgoes their excursion to Rome. Whoops. My cramps didn’t stop the next day. I’m not usually the kind of person to get sick. The things is, on a ship, this kind of person doesn’t exist. GI runs it’s dirty little hands all over the decks. Taking all precautions necessary, you still may be the one it chooses to drag down into the medical center. The crew make jokes. 24 hours of isolation is the closest we’ll get to a vacation. We work 7 days a week, maybe 10 hours a day. They put you in the beds with the white sheets, you know, the ones reserved for passengers. The room even has a window. It hurts your eyes in the morning because you forgot what it’s like to wake up to natural light. They tell you to order room service anytime you want. You may not be able to keep the food down, but you might as well take advantage of the golden opportunity. Sickness never tasted so sweet. Don’t get me wrong-I can honestly say it was not worth it. I work with kids; my job is different. We play with balloons and bubbles. I squirmed and winced in my bed from the pain, cried to the nurse to give me something a bit stronger. As she stabbed a thick shot in my side and I wavered between which pain was easier to focus on, the twisting convulsions in my stomach or the sharp liquid piercing into my hip, there’s no way I was thinking, “This is so much better than balloons and bubbles”. There are workers here we call the GI squad. I’m just waiting to see them on that show about the craziest, dirtiest jobs. They’re the people we call when little Andrew has a GI accident in the middle of the Kids Center. I can’t help but think if I were them I would abandon the mask and gloves for just long enough to infect myself and live like a king for 24 hours.

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