Making Do

This entry is part 8 of 25 in the series Cruising With the Mothers

After we hung up, I returned to the keyboard. My mood must have been transmitted through the keys, as HAL became docile and cooperative. The kayak tour in Halifax that Kris wanted was sold out, so I waitlisted her and booked the two of us on the Titanic museum tour. By bedtime, the mothers were confirmed for Peggy’s cove, and three of us were destined for the Bell museum in Sydney. Too tired to continue, I saved Bar Harbor for day three.

I spent the following morning searching for an independent operator who could replicate the limo & lunch tour that HAL was no longer offering. Eventually I concluded that HAL dropped the excursion because there was no one in the area who could put it all together – the closest limo operator appeared to be a hundred miles away. I returned to the excursion book and settled on a tour that offered lunch at Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park, followed by a trip to the top of Cadillac Mountain. We’d be riding in a bus instead of a limo – not as much fun, but more in keeping with our station in life. We’d have to make due…

HAL let me book the two of us uneventfully. When I tried to book the mothers, I got all the way to the end of the process before HAL acted up again.

HAL: I’m sorry Dave, I don’t have enough information to complete this transaction.
Me: Cut the &#%$. You know who I am. You know everything about me – I’ve entered my credit card number ten times already!
HAL: This conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.

I did eventually succeed in finalizing the booking, and then I wrote a note to the tech support people at HAL. In no uncertain terms, I told them that their booking system was flawed and was likely to hurt their good name. Two days later, I got a response that said, in essence, “We know. We hate the system so much, we’re scrapping the whole thing very soon. We promise if you cruise with us again, you’ll love the new system. Sorry for your trouble.”

In just three days, I had completed the 30-minute task – and I was a much stronger person as a result. If I could conquer HAL, nothing could stop me…

I wanted to order some flowers for the mothers’ room, and it was somewhat of a relief to find that there was no way to do this online. Instead, I had to download a form, which I placed in Kris’s to-do pile – not wanting her to feel left out of the process. It took an email to get a copy of the beverage list. Unlike Celebrity, HAL will actually sell you a bottle of gin and some mixers for on-verandah consumption, making smuggling unnecessary.

A couple of days later, our ticket books arrived. Everything appeared to be in order. I was continuing to enjoy my vacation, now by studying the proper use of the semi-colon, when the phone rang. It was Kris.

“We have a problem,” she began. “Mom’s ticket says she’s waitlisted for the late dinner seating.”

“I don’t understand. They said no one was interested in late seating – that’s why they changed it.”
“Yeah, well, I’m just telling you what it says.”

“They even sent me an email assuring me that we’d be seated together at late seating. OK, I’ll send them another message,” I said. I fired off an email to the charter operator and got back to the semi-colon. These days, it is most useful in making winking smiley faces on the internet. ; – )

I finished my book editing right at the deadline and resubmitted. Meanwhile, back on the APHC forum, things were finally picking up. People were recounting the misery of booking excursions online, to which I added my two-cents worth. There was a lot of angst about leaving the ship for day trips, lest some not-to-be-missed entertainment offering was scheduled during that time. Details were still sketchy.

In late July, a rush of activity began on the Roll Call thread. I proposed a sail away get-together in the Crow’s Nest Lounge, and ultimately, 65 people signed up. Like any normal sail away party organizer, I created a relational database of the participants and used it to automatically create nametags indicating each person’s name, screen name, traveling companions and hometown, scaled to fit the available space on the tag for maximum legibility.

During the second week of August, Kris and I went to spend a week with friends on Cape Cod. While there, I read a fascinating book about punctuation, which was still fresh on my mind. Eats, Shoots and Leaves features a picture of a gun-toting Panda on the cover. Think about it…

About a week before the cruise, I called my mother.

“So, Ma, I’m taking Friday off. I’ll come down and get you and we’ll spend the night here. Then we’ll be ready to get up and go on Saturday.”

“Oh, Chester. That’s ridiculous. I’ll take the bus to Boston on Saturday and meet you at the ship. There’s no reason for you to drive all the way here and back. I take the bus all the time.”

“No, really. It’s no big deal. I’d rather have us all together at our house, and then we can have a leisurely trip to Boston. It’s worth it for the peace of mind.”

“Well I appreciate the offer, but I’m taking the bus.”

“What if the bus gets a flat tire or breaks down?”

“I taken it hundreds of times, and never had a problem.”

“You don’t want to have to handle all your luggage, do you?”

“I’ll get everything into one little suitcase, and it’s on wheels. The driver will lift it for me,” said mom. “It really couldn’t be more convenient. I just have to drive over to the commuter lot, buy my ticket and go.”

“So it’s a commuter bus? You’ll be going on a Saturday. There aren’t many commuters on Saturday – are you sure it even runs then?” I asked.

“Oh, yes. There’s a bus every hour. I’m telling you, I’ve done it hundreds of times.”

“In this century? If you’ve been to Boston so many times, how come you never called me to meet for lunch or something?”

“Oh, I’m always going up and back for a musical convention or meeting or something like that. They always feed you at those things. Oh, the food…no wonder my clothes are so tight…”

“Alright, you win. We’ll pick you up at the depot.”

“Don’t be silly.”

“We have to go right by South Station to get to the dock. What are you going to do? Walk?”

“I’ll take a cab.”

I may be able to beat HAL… “OK, mom. As you wish.”

We ended the call, and no more than three minutes later I heard the little “bing bong” sound that signaled the arrival of an email message. I opened it, and started reading.


I forgot to mention it on the phone, but I was re-reading your manuscript when I came upon one of my pet peeves….Remember when I gave you the lecture about palette, palate, etc….? I recently read a foreword to the new Gershwin book written by Michael Feinstein and he misspelled it, too, using Palette when he meant Palate. I dropped him a note about it and he has asked the publisher to fix it….No, it’s not that….so far, you have all the palates, palettes, and pallets correct….The item I found in your book I have been seeing more and more of in print…especially in mystery stories, for some reason. And I can’t understand why so many people misunderstand what the word is. The expression is “Make do…” It probably comes from the little New England ditty which goes: “Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do, or do without.” It’s one of those things people HEAR, but don’t see…and misunderstand what they’re hearing.

I used to make a plea for people to pay their dues in the Music Teachers organization by writing: Your dews are do. Your dooze are dew. Your do’s are do. etc. Anyhow it’s on page 75…end of first paragraph. Not sure if it was in your original postings….If I had read it, I surely would have said something. Maybe when the book goes into the second edition, they can fix it.

Funny, but when Michael responded he thanked me for fixing his “grammer”….For that, I wouldn’t say anything. Mistakes in personal notes are not fair game….The other was for publication and it wouldn’t be right to let it go. And sometimes being too precise just sounds pedantic….inhuman, almost….In journalism class they told the story about the woman’s body, pulled out of the river and lying on the dock….Her husband comes running, sees her and cries, “My God, it’s her.” And the careful reporter fixed it up for him and wrote that when the distraught husband saw his wife he cried, “My God. It is she.” Sure he did. Time to get the cat in. More love, Mom

Those truly blessed with the gift of gab can also type very quickly. (It took me three minutes to type this sentence)

I felt uncomfortable about the bus situation. It didn’t make sense to me that there would be such frequent service – especially on a Saturday – so I consulted the Internet. It took a long time to even find the bus company’s web site, but when I did, it had comprehensive schedule and fare information. I printed out the Saturday schedule and immediately called my mother.

“Mom, the bus only runs twice on Saturday, and the first one doesn’t get in until almost 4:00 in the afternoon. We’re sailing at 5:00. That’s just too close. You probably have to be on board by then,” I said.

“Nonsense. Where did you get that information?”

“Right on their website.”

“Well, it’s wrong,” she said with assurance.

“I don’t think so,” I said with slightly more assurance.

“I’ll be at the dock before you get there. My bus gets in at 9:30 in the morning.”

“How can you be so sure?” I asked. “I’m looking at their website right now.”

“Simple,” mom answered. “I called them…”

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