The Permanent cruiser: We have heard of others, but we actually met one a few years ago. Her name was Marianne, or something similar, and she cruised continually on the Royal Viking Sea, except for two weeks a year when the ship was in drydock. On these occasions, the cruise line would put Marianne in drydock also, by way of a first class hotel near the ship.
She, and her blue hair, sat every evening in the same seat in the showlounge, and every comedian or other performer who valued their job, would make a funny but friendly reference to her each night. During the day, Marianne would sit by the Concierge's desk (the Concierge was the ship's problem solver), doing her needlepoint, and occasionally adding her two cents worth when a passenger was busy venting.
One night our dinner table group discussed Marianne's situation, and we agreed how pleasant it would be to have money and cruise continually. And then, the CPA at our table, having previously extracted his sharpened pencil from his coat pocket, said "You know, this lady has an inside, lower-deck cabin, and considering that there is no airfare involved, and the cruise line has no vacancy problem with her cabin, I'll bet that they don't charge her more than $150 per day". Our CPA then added, after bringing out his calculator from his pocket, together with a used piece of Kleenex, "and that's only $54,750 per year - you would only need capital of about $500,000 to produce that each year" (remember, this is a few years ago when you could get 10% on a bank deposit) "and, I'll bet she pays no income tax because she's not a resident of any country, and probably has her investments in a tax haven".
There was a pause at our table, and then my wife chimed in "You know, I could do that on Alan's insurance". Although stunned, and fearful for my life, I managed to reply "But honey, imagine 50 lifeboat drills each year, 50 cruise director's who's who, not to mention 350 bingo afternoons". But she had me when she responded "but only one disembarkation day!"
I spent the rest of the dinner thinking about my insurance, and glaring at the CPA who by now had put his pencil behind his ear (it was formal night). I have not slept well since, although with the current low bank deposit rates, I can at least nap standing up. When interest rates rise, or I see my wife taking up needlepoint, I'll know that Marianne's successor is close by.
Alan Walker - Sleepless in Vancouver
[Editor's Note: The first two paragraphs are true, but I wouldn't bet on the rest]
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