Alaska cruise, day 6 – Victoria, BC

I woke up in Canada with a hangover. Not the “OMG I think I’m going to die” kind, more like the “yeah, maybe that last tequila round wasn’t such a good idea” kind. This was a long cruising-at-sea day, so no need to get up and about for an excursion. Fortunate. I decided to spend the day writing, both on this travelogue and on my long-neglected novel.

On a slighter downer note, I have to say that this trip has reinforced my belief that there are a lot of jerks in the world. Boorish, rude and thoughtless behavior is everywhere. In my pre-retirement life I saw it mostly on the freeways, where people drove like idiots and Mad Max characters, endangering everyone around them. On this cruise it’s a couple of too-common behaviors that cause me to cringe.

1. The Land Grabbers. The people who show up 30 minutes early to a theater where there are no reserved seats and proclaim that “these six seats (always prime seats) are taken”. They use napkins, articles of their clothing or just pure chutzpah to stake their claim. We typically get there 5-10 minutes before the performance and there are lots of empty seats (just like Southwest, there are no reserved seats), but they’re all “taken” by Grabbers. It’s just unreasonable and rude. About half the time whoever they were holding the seats for doesn’t show up (I can’t imagine why). I wish I was a person who could just sit down and tell them “tough, move me”, but politeness is pretty deeply ingrained in me (thank Mom) so I end up frustrated and a small-time martyr.

2. The Monopolists. The people who elbow their way to the front of any attraction and monopolize the only prime photo spot. Reasonable or thoughtful people would step up, take their photo or two, then move along and make room for the next person. But there’s always someone who decides this is their god-given spot and they’re not leaving until they’ve taken their thousand carefully-framed identical photos.

I’m pretty sure the thing that enables these bad behaviors is anonymity. Whether it’s the drivers on the freeway, Internet trolls or fellow passengers on a cruise ship, these are people who are sure you’re never going to see them again and they’re safe behaving like complete assholes. In settings where people know them and will see them again (friends, family, work), their behavior is moderated, probably even normal/reasonable. In both real life and in the digital domain, identity is a powerful concept.

I’ve heard it said that your true character is whatever you do when you’re alone. In this case your true character shows up when you think you’re anonymous. And that’s our happy thought for the day, kids.

Ending the day and this post on a higher note, we walked from the ship to downtown Victoria, and I’ll have to say Victoria is a lovely city. Tidy homes, tree-lined streets, a mix of modern buildings and antique, and clean. Everything about the place screams well-managed. Even better, we stumbled into a superb eatery with a kitschy name – Nautical Nellie’s. With a name like that I had low expectations (OK, we were tired and hungry), but once inside it became clear that this was a fine dining experience. Pricey (though in Canadian dollars!) and 100% worth it. We had a light meal at the bar – crab spread on toast, seafood chowder and a seafood salad stack. It was all first class, and watching the food leave the kitchen was a masterclass in restaurantery. Highly recommended if/when you’re in Victoria. My only regret was that I didn’t order one of their signature (large) seafood dishes. Next time…

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