Astroboy and the Mystery of the Odd Sock

Posted: 29th July 2013 | Written by: Jo Morgan

Jo Morgan thumbnail 2 150

I was in the crew mess, doing something momentously silly like polishing a toaster for the second time that day, when I noticed the engineer, ‘Astroboy’ leave his dirty mug in the sink and start to walk out of the room. 

‘Are you just going to leave that there?’ I asked him.  There was a tone.  

'The detergent dispenser is empty.’

'Well fill it.’

‘But I don't know where the detergent is kept.’ 

‘How long have you worked on here?’  

‘Two years.’

‘And you don't know where the detergent lives?  Here's an idea, Astroboy.  It's under the sink.’ 

‘I didn't know that.’  He gave me a pathetic, gormless look by way of apology. 

Well that’s just nonsense.  Everybody in the whole world, even toddlers, your pet gerbil and the former President of the United States (on a good day) knows where dishwashing detergent is kept. You trained in astrophysics  and are the engineer on a 30 million euro boat. I reckon you might, if you put your mind to it, figure out where to find detergent. Of course I said none of this. 

‘Well now you do’, I said petulantly as he left the room, and went back to making angry faces in the gleaming stainless reflection of the toaster.

‘Well it's your job to stock the crew mess, I shouldn't have to do your job for you’, I heard floating back down the stairs.  A door slammed as he went outside.  Damn.  He got the last word there.

Odd sock board 300x252The next day, Astroboy made another appearance, this time standing at the door of the laundry. 

‘You've lost one of my socks again.  It's black. I need it back. ’ Well I need a lock on my laundry door. We all need things.

‘Oh, it's black, is it?  How unusual.’  I sighed, put the iron down and turned to face him.

'Was it in your mesh bag?  Was the bag zipped up? Are you sure you put both socks in the bag?   (I do realise I'm talking to him like a five-year old, I simply can't help it.)

‘Of course.’

‘Well the washing machine ate it then.’ (It is a truth universally acknowledged that washing machines love socks.)

‘I'm also missing a shirt.  I wish you girls would stop losing my stuff.’ 

‘I can stop doing your washing if you like.  That'll solve the problem fairly quickly.’   I say this with a smile to soften the rudeness, a smile that both of us know is light years from genuine. 

‘No, I just want you to be more careful.’ 

I growled when he was safely out of earshot, hitting the steam button on the iron repeatedly for special effect .

 What? Is it upsetting for you when the interior wash and iron, fold and return your clothes – and accidentally, occasionally, return your shirt to another cabin?  Oh dear heavens!  Shut up and shut up some more. And then take a little walk around the cul de sac of shut the f@*k up and take a quick dip in shut that gaping hole lake. 

We stews are, in short, quite an angry bunch when it comes to whingeing crew whingeing about their laundry in a whingey way.  We try to memorise what you wear each day (no, we weren’t staring at you over dinner because we think you’re hot, we’re just thinking 'Vile shiny purple shirt belongs to Ross, no wonder he never picks up. Wonder if it runs. Mmm, this chicken is tasty'.) There are lots of you, and you keep buying new clothes- it's hard to keep up.  So yes, sometimes we get it wrong. But before you even think about coming to the laundry to accuse us of losing your clothes, you'd better make sure that you've done the following things:

  1.  Go and look in your cupboard again.  No, not just glance in a male–pattern blindness kind of way. Actually look.  And then look again.

  2.  Not there?  Here’s an idea.  Open the cupboard and look in your cabin-mate’s stuff.  This is not rocket science. Or astrophysics.  

  3.  What, still can’t find it?  Go check if your stupid shirt made from the foreskin of lamas from the upper plains of Mongolia is hanging up in the laundry drying (as you insist on having everything you own hand-washed.) 

  4. What?? You've just noticed in your hunt that your snakeskin pants are missing? Oh, that was me, I was doing a public service and shrunk them in the dryer.   They're tiny now, still shiny though. 

  5. Still missing?  Then use the brain part of your heads.   Ask at lunch if anyone else has it. 

If you manage to get through all- and I do mean all- of those steps, then come to me, and in a very polite fashion, ask me if I know where it is.  I will think, I will search, I will find.  Almost certainly in your cupboard. At which point I will stab you with a coat-hanger and brand you with a steaming iron.

A more gentle-natured stewardess accepts this is an annoying facet of the job.  A stew like me, well…stews.

Of course, there are boats that don't make the stewardesses iron personal clothes, and some even take it so far as to let the guys do their own washing on weekends.  Sometimes, this wonderfully liberal policy will end in you coming into the laundry on a Monday morning to find stinking piles of stinking laundry stinking up the washing machines in a seriously stinky manner after having been left there over the weekend earnestly trying to foment some mouldy revolution.  Sometimes you will discover the floor awash with soapsuds from an overflowed machine- as boys always put in 800 litres of detergent per pair of underwear.

Despite the stinkiness and the seas of slippery soap suds, I will never criticise these lovely boys who at least attempt to look after themselves.  They may not be very good at it but, at least the dears are trying. Bless their cotton socks. Even if I'm only going to give one of them back. (I had to offer the other in a sacrifice to the washing machine gods.)

sock monster 300x250


Postscript: I found the sock he was missing. It had fallen down the back of the ironing board. I threw it away, just to spare myself having to admit to him that it had been my fault.

The moral of this story?  Be nice to your stewardesses.  We are well-trained in the art of laundry voodoo. The black sock arts. 

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Readers Comments

  • Comment by: Simon Harvey (N2) - 19/08/2013 11:12am (5 years ago)

    Thanks for the reply Jo, and I did like your story. I'm interested to hear from you how much of your story you feel still goes on today ? This type of behavior would be heard 30 years ago, and while I seem to hear it less today I wondered what your thoughts were ? As you say : "we all have to look at our own methods of communication, and try to see it from other people's perspective. Tricky, but worthwhile." It the tricky part that I bring notice to, as there are excellent tools and instruments available today that offer affordable ways to work on interpersonal skills development. The basic of all of them is this: Learn you own styles of behaviors first (self awareness), and you will find it far easier to see, read and understand others perspectives. As far as any crew on a Superyacht this is a win win, as the raised communication and abilities that will develop in reading others will pay big dividends. Whether it is in promotion, pay, new job, or (big if you work charters) tips. All will pay you back the few $ it took to take an assessment or profile very quickly. If you know your own workplace style you are far better placed to understand other perspectives and be able to adapt to them. Also as others learn this in a crew, all will have a new non judgmental language to deal with such issues as Astroboy brought. An example would be not knowing that one persons life buoy was Status quo, while another sees Status quo as a lump of concrete strapped to them.

  • Comment by: 00 Jo Morgan - 15/08/2013 5:50pm (6 years ago)

    Mex, I think you made a few stews feel better with that one.(And by the way, have you seen how complicated setting up a guest picnic is? :) )

  • Comment by: 00 Jo Morgan - 15/08/2013 5:48pm (6 years ago)

    Hi, sorry Simon, I thought I posted a reply, but clearly not! Really good comments, thanks. It was mostly a bit of fun really (written in a state of high dudgeon in my cabin years ago), but in all humour there is a bit of truth. I agree with everyone who's commented here, every single crew member deserves a thanks for the role they play in the great show we put on. It is sometimes easy in the depths of the season to feel put-upon, and you are right in saying we all have to look at our own methods of communication, and try to see it from other people's perspective. Tricky, but worthwhile.

  • Comment by: Simon Harvey - 10/08/2013 9:09pm (6 years ago)

    Jo, Interesting story, and somewhat familiar. Not sure how much tongue-in-cheek, but I'm going to look at is as a learning opportunity of the interaction of Stew and Astro. Before everyone jumps in with "Astroboy needs to learn which side his bread is buttered!" Let's suppose that Astroboy had good intentions with his remark of "The detergent dispenser is empty.’" He just didn't have very good self-awareness and used his preference of communication without even thinking how this may come across. Lets assume Astroboy prefers a more directive style communication and Stew prefers a more informative style communication. What would that look like ? Well Stew is going to prefer to speak in a way that suggests room for discussion and input, in contrast Astro prefers to speak in a way that that is direct, unambiguous and clear. STEW: Are you just going to leave that there? And you don't know where the detergent lives? Here's an idea, Astroboy. It's under the sink. I can stop doing your washing if you like. That'll solve the problem fairly quickly. ASTRO: The detergent dispenser is empty Well it's your job to stock the crew mess, I shouldn't have to do your job for you. You've lost one of my socks again. It's black. I need it back. And what might these two look like in a relationship (not a hot and bothered one), two people working and living together. Well lets say that both Stew and Astro have different approaches to relationships. Stew might prefer a more proactive approach and Astro may prefer a more cautious approach. Stew may prefer to locate , name and solve interpersonal issues, often through self-disclosure and references to principles of effective human relations (I can stop doing your washing if you like. That'll solve the problem fairly quickly.) In contrast Astro may prefer to accept situations as they are, often entering and leaving relationships selectively and rarely mentioning problems. (Well it's your job to stock the crew mess, I shouldn't have to do your job for you.) Ok this is is lot of conjecture, but the point is that until you learn your own strengths and stretches, your style of behavior and personality, it is very hard to see other perspectives. Astro and Stew may even even share a way of making decisions and get stuck on the fact that both do not like to engage in activities without a schedule in mind, or consider more options when they have already committed to a course of action. Now this is all personality type based and a lot of conjecture about Stew and Astro, but the point is when we look at things from another perspective we can get a whole different picture. Why bother with all this? You could keep doing the same thing and expect to get a different result (something about insanity here), or learn and change the outcome for the better by changing the interaction. Or send the situation away to Bravo for their next episode. “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity” ― Albert Einstein Great post Jo, Thanks Simon

  • Comment by: Mex - 06/08/2013 5:19am (6 years ago)

    indeed, while I have seen many stewies that couldn't set a picnic table and whinged more than a deckie from warshash, the super stews that I love and admire are my personal heroes. I would rather lose a shirt to the gods than do my own laundry and anyone who make my life easier is a superstar. Kudos to you ladies, and the chefs who feed and fill my soul, thank you! Toughest job aboard I think. As for socks, gave them up years ago ... ;)Mx

  • Comment by: Lustine Jordaan - 01/08/2013 11:11am (6 years ago)

    I could have written this .. Don't have an Astroboy , but Astroboys x 5 !Sometime you just need to be reminded that you are not alone. Thanks Jo :)

  • Comment by: nolan - 01/08/2013 10:01am (6 years ago)

    Hahaha. Always be nice to those who do your laundry and cook your meals, fix your air conditioning and pay your salary on time. Oh, wait - that is the whole crew...