For example, today is Istanbul Day. That's the most I know.

Republished from The Jade Journal

The funny thing about renting DVDs from the crew store is that you have absolutely no idea when they’re due back.

Let me explain – on the ship, there is a great crew welfare department that is responsible for, well, crew welfare. The crew welfare people do many things to keep crew members happy, healthy and drunk.

They organize crew excursions to Cairo and other cool places, which is nice because it’s absolutely essential to have an armed security guard travel with you to Cairo and they’re so expensive to hire for just a few people. Better to have 40 crew members and one guard. You know, spread the cost around.

They throw parties in the crew bar and give away free beer for just about any reason imaginable. Most frequently, they’re for some country’s Independence Day although these seem to happen with suspicious frequency. In fact, in the three months I’ve been on the ship, I think we’ve celebrated India’s twice.

And of course, they run the crew store. This is where you can stock up on essentials – toothpaste, deodorant, dried mango slices and strange foreign juices…anything you need to make you feel at home, regardless of what country you’re from. This is also where you can rent DVDs, which brings me back to the problem.

It’s not that they don’t tell you how long you can keep the DVDs. They do: 3 days for a movie, 7 for a TV series. It’s just that these terms, and really, time itself, hold relatively little meaning in this environment.

Most of the time we have absolutely no idea what day it is. We know we tip our room stewards on Sunday and get paid on Wednesday, but often even those pass us by without fanfare or notice. (Sorry Juana!) The only way we mark time is knowing if we have a show tonight and what port we happen to be in.

So telling me this DVD set of Battlestar Galactica: Season Three is due back next Thursday does me no good. We might as well be using a Mayan calendar and saying it’s due back next Quetzalcoatl, so could you just print me out a reminder card? Thanks.