City Life is Like Living on a Cruise Ship

Reader Contribution by Cam Mather

By Cam Mather

As I watched the news reports last week
about the cruise ship floating aimlessly with no power, I was thinking
about how life in the city for most people is like living on a cruise

In a city, and on a cruise ship, everything is provided for
you. Food, water, electricity, heat, entertainment, climbing walls… it’s
all just there, miraculously.

It seems to me that most city
people don’t ever think about where all of this stuff comes from or what
happens if it ever stops. I think anyone in the city who heats with
natural gas and watches the movie “Gasland” (
should have a visceral reaction when they are confronted with the
impact of our pursuit of that fuel on other people’s lives and be
inspired to switch their heating system to a geothermal system.

reality is that most city dwellers won’t watch that movie and/or won’t
think much about where the gas and water and gasoline and food come
from. That cornucopia of excess that is a modern grocery store … it’s
just always been like that and it always will be, right? A grocery store
is like the all-you-can-eat buffet on the cruise. It’s just endless.
Isn’t this bliss?

But what happens when there’s a glitch in the
matrix and something goes askew? Poor old Carnival Cruises. It wasn’t
bad enough that the Costa Concordia sunk off the coast of Italy, but
last week another one of their boats had a glitch. A fire in the engine
room shut the whole system down. No engine. No electricity. And of
course they were in the Indian Ocean and it was so hot that the
passengers had to sleep on the deck because it was too hot below deck
without the air conditioning.

let me get this right, you’re on the ocean, on a cruise, with ocean
breezes, and the cabin windows don’t open and it’s only tolerable if the
air conditioning is working? What is wrong with this picture? It all
seems perfectly normal until some undersized piece of wire frays and
overheats and causes a spark that starts a little fire that becomes a
big fire that ruins everyone’s vacation. Oh, and the area of the Indian
Ocean that they were stranded in is notorious for Somali pirates. Get
ready to throw your Gucci luggage at the pirates climbing on to your

You could say that this was just an isolated incident but I remember the last time it happened and it wasn’t that long ago.

Here’s a quote from a passenger;

water, no electricity, no elevators for obese people and handicap and
very hot. Deck 7, the front desk was pandemonium, crazy.”

just never understand why people don’t have a Plan “B.” And by Plan “B”
I mean systems in place to keep the water running and heat on and food
on the table in case one of those support systems goes down. People who
have lived through ice storms and hurricanes understand what life is
like without the basics, but rarely do they take action to avoid the
problem the next time. “Oh there won’t be a next time.” “They’re making
the system more reliable.” “The people in charge will take care of me.”

sure they will. It wasn’t bad enough that the passengers on the Costa
Concordia had to put their lives in to the hands of poorly paid, poorly
trained staff, to figure out how to get off the boat. If I were making
minimum wage chopping up vegetables for the all-you-can-eat buffet
tables for rich people, I would have been one of the first off that
ship. As it was, it seemed that many of those under-paid crewmembers did
the best with what they had. And the captain in charge? Oh, he was on
shore long before anyone else. That whole “the captain goes down with
his ship” cliché ended decades ago. So passé.

I think that captain
is a good example of the 1 per cent. They’ll be saving their own asses
first. They’ve got their well-stocked ranches in Montana and an exit
strategy to get there. And they won’t be hesitant to climb over anyone
ahead of them who’s getting in their way.

So what’s it going to
be? Are you going to keep living your life like you’re on a cruise ship,
or are you going to develop a Plan “B?” NOW is the time to do it – not
when there’s a fire in the engine room.

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