“I remember when everyone was in it for the lifestyle, for the adventure.” Says deckhand Jeff Grundy wearily, sighing as he folds and unfolds a chamois. He’s silent for awhile, occasionally swiping at drops of water on the stainless rail as though they are the cares that he bears upon his broad shouldairs. “Now it’s all about the money. Everyone always says, ‘Work hard, play hard,’ but what happened to partying? That’s what I want to know.”
In a wide-ranging interview that was repeatedly interrupted by a senior officer instructing Jeff to get back to work, and insisting that press were not welcome onboard – yes this includes bloggers, and yes this includes anonymous bloggers – Mr. Grundy opened up about the changes his young eyes had seen occur over the course of a career spanning nearly 4 months.
“I used to get an hour for lunch. Now sometimes it’s just sit down, eat, have seconds, have a coffee, ask what the desert is, call my parents, call my bank, and back to work.” Here he flips through his notes for some time before concluding. “So, I don’t actually look at my watch per se, but I can tell you lunch hour is definitely close to being shorter than it used to be.”
“When I joined,” Jeff continues in earnest, “The captain was really nice to me. He told me anytime I wanted to chat about anything I could speak to the mate. But when I asked the mate he said I should speak to the bosun. And he passed me on too. I’m down to asking the provisioner’s assistant if it’s ok if I take Christmas off. And she said no.”
Led on by promises of endlessly stocked snack cupboards and early knock-offs to wakeboard, Jeff left his parent’s basement behind and hasn’t looked back except for returning to sell his car. Now, almost 120 days later, he is a bitter husk of his former corn-on-the-cob exuberance.
“I don’t think these new kids coming in understand that this used to be a job for poets and professional surfers who’d suffered career-ending injuries. I mean when I started back in August if you couldn’t play ‘Hurt’ on the ukelele, you basically didn’t stand a chance.” At this point in the conversation he looked like he wanted to sneeze for an extended period of time. When a tissue was offered he explained he was scowling.
Asked what he thinks the industry needs to do to turn this downward trend around Jeff thinks for a good while. Longer, in fact, than the senior officer would allow us to stay; so in the end he followed up with an emailed response:
“I don’t even know. To be honest I wish I could get out but I’m already so far in I don’t think I can. Its pretty much all I’ve ever done, its all I’m good at. I’ll just stick it out, keep reminding the new kids how it used to be back last summer, and reminiscing with the old salts about the good old days before GPS and shit. I guess its like Bono said, ‘The only thing that doesn’t change is change itself.’ End of quote.”