March 13, 2012

The perfect crew

WHAT KIND OF PERSON makes the best crew? Sometimes I try to rank the assets of a good crewmember.  For example, is a sense of humor more valuable than the ability to steer a nice course to windward? Is a good cook better than a hand who can apply bottom paint without supervision?

The permutations are endless, but every time I come up with the same answer. The best crew is the one who is almost invisible. The one who is always in the right place at right time. Never in your way.  Never sits on companionway steps. Never blocks the gangway down below. Just glides into a bunk and disappears. Never hogs the head.

This person has a sort of sixth sense regarding his or her presence in relation to other people, particularly the skipper, and always keeps clear. Without consciously knowing it, this person is acutely aware of exactly where other people are and where they are likely to want to be in the immediate future.

Now and then you see people like this in airports and on planes. They always have their shoes off without being asked. They never get pinged by the metal detector. They always have their ID ready to show alongside their ticket and boarding pass. They never have to search their carry-on for their missing passport. The main thing about them is that you never notice them unless you're specifically looking for them. They're never the center of any fuss. They never seem to need help. They just quietly and efficiently go about their business, slipping in and out of exactly the right lines. And they all had a pee before they left home, just like their Mom told them.

I have a theory about these people.  I think they're somebody's crew.  Some sailboat owner has trained them.  Sailors, all of them.  Sailors of the best kind, bless 'em.  Why can't everybody be like them?

Today's Thought
How often the highest talent is wrapped in obscurity.
— Plautus, Captivi

"Mom, what are those things?"
"They're blackberries."
"But they're red."
"Yes, blackberries are always red when they're green."

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