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“Good morning. How may I help you?”

“We’d like a refund on our cruise.”

“The um… the entire cruise?”

As a cruise line concierge, I look forward to assisting the passengers with all of their needs aboard our ship. However, this passenger’s unblinking eyes framed by a furrowed brow attacked my desk demanding something my employer would rather not give up.

“For what reason?” I asked softly.

“Where should I start?”

“Honey,” her librarian-voiced husband interjected, “maybe we should—”

“Don’t ‘honey’ me,” she barked to her husband through gritted teeth before pointing a poorly-manicured finger at me. “We were promised a romantic trip of a lifetime and it was anything but!”



“Sir, ma’am I can assure you—”

“If we knew that a reality TV show was going to be filmed during our cruise, we would’ve booked a different week—”

“—we attempted to make every accommodation—”

“A different cruise line!”

“We had disclaimers posted around the boat,” I attempted to explain before her growl cut me off.

“A photocopy of a sign in the stairwells didn’t prevent those invasive lunatics from getting in my space and ruining my honeymoon!”

“Our honeymoon,” the husband weakly added.

“Same difference,” she acquiesced.

Our corporate offices felt that agreeing to the popular streaming series Love at Sea to use our line of ships would be good exposure and advertising, as well as a windfall of cash. At this particular moment, not enough of it was making its way into my paltry checking account as I fended off the ferocious.

“Ma’am, please,” I begged, “we experienced fantastic weather this time of year for the Pacific. Surely the other newlywed couples from the filming didn’t take away from the beautiful scenery this week?”

“Who wants to hang out outside all the time when those house cat brides in heat were fighting day and night on every single deck?”

“Did you enjoy our world-class dining?”

“Ha!” the bride laughed. “What’s the point of world-class dining if the film crew keeps bumping their smelly asses into you while you’re eating, and they’re trying to get the perfect shot? Guess what doesn’t complement the savory taste of Pacific Crab Bisque? Sound cables falling into my damn soup!”

“Was there a problem with your cabin? I see we upgraded you to the Mariner Deck when you boarded last week.”

“That added butler service, right?” the husband asked.

Oh Mr. Husband, how nice of you to try to help. 

“Yes, sir.”

“Funny…” the wife continued, “the room you upgraded us to was NEXT DOOR to one of the couples. If you watch the program in six months you’ll learn that when they weren’t fighting half the time, they were having sex, loudly…”

“And the butler service…”


I need not consult my daily employee brief to recall that Bertram was fired a few days ago. Shame. He was a favorite of our passengers. Perhaps I now know why.

“Be that as it may,” I said with the controlled tone of an accountant on valium, “if you examine your itemized bill, you’ll notice your first drink each day was complimentary.”

“Yet I had to keep drinking to keep me from killing every one of them.”

“You may also take the bathrobes home with our compliments.”

“And that’s it?”

She stared me down with laser focus, while her beleaguered husband apologized with every exhausted blink. “Sorry… sorry… sorry sorry…”

“Since the ship returns to port tomorrow, our Return Policy strictly states that no refunds will be granted based on a single-sided perception of a poor experience, especially when the complaint is isolated to one pair of passengers. I’m sorry.”

“This cruise line is an abomination,” she spat back at me, slamming her fist on the counter. “Wait until I take to social media. I’ll sink this ship, and make sure you go down with it! C’mon Eddie!”

“Did you get all that?” I mumbled as the couple’s departing flip-flops clacked down the hall.

“Bruce, you’re a natural,” the voice in my earpiece chirped. “The director wants to talk to you about an extension to your contract for the remainder of the summer.”

“And a room upgrade.”

“You got it, babe. Here comes another couple. Get one of them to cry and we’ll be negotiating your own show on our network.”

Jay Heltzer

Jay Heltzer writes attention-challenged fiction, plays bass trombone, digs sloppy fountain pen sketches, and is in pursuit of the perfect cheeseburger.

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