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It Made Me Want to Cry: He Was Scared to Death I Was Going to Cost Him His Job

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By Steve Moran

I have great affinity for the Charles Schultz Peanuts character Pigpen. No matter where he goes or what he does, he goes creates a mess. That’s me. It is particularly true while on a cruise ship in a too small cabin (not going to do that again on this ship).

One morning I got up, checked email on my cell phone, then finished getting ready to swim with the dolphins (a great experience, but would look for someplace other than St. Kitts to do it). However, when it was time to leave, I could not find my cell phone. I knew it was in the cabin and I had simply misplaced it somewhere. But I didn't have more time to look . . . and besides I am on vacation. I figured the cabin steward would find it someplace and it would be sitting on the bed when I came back after the dolphin experience.

Still Lost

However, when I returned, the room was made up . . . yet, no phone. I did a much more through search and still no phone. I had this slight fear it had slipped off the room deck and into the Caribbean Sea. Finally, we got to thinking that maybe I had put it on the room service tray and it had been carted off to the dish-room. We called, but still no dice.

Five minutes later, our cabin steward came rushing to our room demanding that we should have contacted him first so that he would not be blamed for losing the phone. My first reaction was being taken aback that he was more concerned about his problem than mine, but I quickly realized something more disturbing.

So Afraid

How could he be so afraid for such a little thing? As he was frantically searching our room, he said he didn’t want to be accused of stealing -- even though we hadn’t, because I always knew it was my fault -- and it never even crossed my mind that he might have taken it. For him, this is a plum job he was afraid of losing.

I realized he might actually be correct in thinking that just a phone call saying we lost something could cause him real problems. And that is really sad.

Throw-Away People

In the cruise ship world there is always someone waiting for an open position, and it is one of the ugly truths that low level workers are seen as disposable. Screw up and you are off at the next port or the end of the cruise.

We mostly don’t see team members that way, and there are laws that provide some protections . . . though not many.

But How Do They Feel?

I find myself wondering how often our team members feel this threatened. I suspect that even when it is not true, they often feel this way. And sometimes, we know there are supervisors that create their own little kingdoms of terror, that produce these feeling.

It is likely impossible to stop this from happening 100% of the time, but we need to be aware of the fear factor in our organizations.

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