Judging a Book By Its Cover

saurian – adjective, noun

[sawr-ee-uh n]

adjective

1.   belonging or pertaining to the Sauria, a group of reptiles originally including the lizards, crocodiles, and several                      extinct  forms but now technically restricted to the lizards.

2.   resembling a lizard.

noun

3.   a saurian animal, as a dinosaur or lizard.

poke – verb, noun, idiom

[pohk]

verb

1.   to push your finger or something thin or pointed into or at someone or something

2.   to make (a hole) in something by pushing something sharp or pointed through or into it

3.   to stick out so that a part can be seen

4.   to force, drive, or stir by or as by pushing or thrusting

5.   to thrust obtrusively

6.   to make a pushing or thrusting movement with the finger, a stick, etc

7.   to extend or project (often followed by out)

8.   to thrust oneself obtrusively

9.   to search curiously; pry (often followed by around or about)

10.  to go or proceed in a slow or aimless way (often followed by along)

noun

11.  a thrust or push.

12.  Informal. a slow or dawdling person; slowpoke

idiom

13.  poke fun at, to ridicule or mock, especially covertly or slyly

14.  poke one’s nose into, Informal. to meddle in; pry into

People poked fun at Darcy for her saurian skin. The condition came from excessive tanning. Understandably, poking fun at anyone is rude. But, understandably, Darcy kind of deserved it; didn’t she? (You, as the reader, be the judge).

Darcy spent thirty minutes in a tanning bed every other day she was on shore. She didn’t abuse it, cooking her insides like a baked chicken, the way some people did. She simply wanted to keep her otherwise, flour white skin, golden. Her job on the Caribbean cruise ship warranted loads of sunscreen so with her being tan, she figured she needn’t to worry too much about it. Afterall, she had been working on the cruise line for fifteen years now.

The passengers adored Darcy. Her friendly, helpful and charming demeanor endeared her to the lot of them each cruise. In fact, the captain of the ship complimented her numerous times for just this reason and a pay raise always ensued each year though it wasn’t much.

Her first ten years, she worked as a deck steward, keeping the upper deck clean and accommodating passengers when needed. She was exposed to all weather. Occasionally she put sunscreen on (the captain forbid any of his crew to be sunburned) but for the most part, she felt she had tanned long enough to toughen her skin up to the hot Caribbean sun.

On one lucky afternoon, when she was off duty, Darcy had gone ashore and come back. An elderly passenger, carrying a large shoulder bag, needed her assistance in locating her husband, who had stayed on the ship. The woman was quite distraught. Darcy’s off duty time was immediately cut short as the passengers always came first so she set her bag of goodies down (inside were silver necklaces for her nieces for Christmas, two weeks away) just on the lower deck coming onto the ship. Off her and the woman went to locate the woman’s husband.

The husband was found in the billiards room in a match game of ‘last pocket’.

The woman asked Darcy to please wait for her at the door while she talked to her husband. Darcy complied, waiting patiently while the wife and husband talked. When finished, the elderly woman met Darcy at the door.

“Please follow me to my room. Then we can go,” the woman said politely.

As they walked, the woman continued talking. “Back on shore, was a quaint little boutique with the most intricate artwork. I found a few beautiful items I wanted to buy but realized I didn’t have enough money which is why I need your assistance. There is still time to go back ashore isn’t there?”

Darcy checked her watch. “Yes ma’am. There is time if we hustle a little and the boutique is not too far away.” Darcy thought it a little odd of the woman to have to hurry back ashore just to buy something she didn’t have enough money for but she was happy to help the woman out, none the less.

The boutique was quite close to the shoreline as it were. Inside the little shop were indeed, fabulous, intricate pieces of art. The woman delicately looked at several pieces.

“The time is getting late. We don’t want to miss the boat,” Darcy said gently.

The woman looked distraught again.

“Can I help you choose?” Darcy asked the woman.

“Oh would you please? I am terrible at deciding,” the woman replied, grateful for the help.

Intrigued, Darcy asked, “What is the criteria for choosing?”

The woman looked thoughtful. She said, “It needs to be something many people would want to bid large amounts of money on.”

Darcy knit her brows together reviewing each piece in the shop. Finally her eyes selected a beautiful sun-styled wall clock made of hand pressed bronze and moonlit silver for the moon shaped face. The delicate hands were also bronze. The design was simplistic but yielded intricate artistry.

“I would bid on this myself if I could afford it. It is exquisite. I believe this is your piece Ma’am. Everyone needs to know the time,” Darcy stated.

The woman was pleased. “You chose well. Thank you. This should do well at auction.”

The woman paid. Together they hurried back to the ship with Darcy carrying the large precious package.

“I need to use the facilities first,” the woman said as they boarded on first deck.

Darcy remained where she was, careful of the parcel she was holding.

The woman returned shortly.

“Ma’am would you like me to carry this back to your room for you?” Darcy asked promptly, being mannerly.

“That would be delightful,” the woman said. Darcy followed the woman to her room and handed off the intricate clock. That’s when she remembered her own bag.

“I have to go now. Thank you for the adventure this afternoon. I am very happy to have helped,” she called out as the woman disappeared into the other room. Hurriedly, she left.

Darcy searched the boarding deck area. Not finding it, she immediately went to the Lost and Found clerk who, not bothering to look up, denied a silver bag being turned in. Now it was Darcy’s turn to be distraught. Silver was a fair deal cheaper to buy in Mexico than in the US so she could afford a nice gift for her nieces. But as a deck steward she didn’t make much money. Her reward was doing the job itself. She found great joy in helping people and creating a safe and relaxing environment for them.

Duty called. Darcy was once again in her uniform, with name tag attached and back to work.

Being the last night of the cruise, Darcy had an abundance of duties to fulfill before the passengers disembarked in the morning. She succumbed to the belief that the bag would be returned if it was meant to be. She worried no more.

As the passengers left, Darcy was on standby to help if needed. The elderly woman purposefully approached Darcy.

“There you are!” she exclaimed rushing to Darcy. “I never asked your name yesterday.” She read Darcy’s name tag.

“Darcy, what a pretty name,” she gushed.

Darcy smiled. “Thank you.” Blushing, she asked, “Can I help you ma’am?”

The woman dug around in her large shoulder bag, pulling out Darcy’s silver bag, handing it to her.

“I saw you put this down yesterday when you agreed to help me and I had forgotten about it. On my way to find the restroom, I saw your bag and put it in my shoulder bag to give to you. But my mind is old and slower and when you offered to carry my purchase, I forgot about it again,” the woman explained. “I vowed to find you before I left this ship.”

Darcy gushed, “Thank you so much!”

The woman stepped in for a hug which Darcy gladly gave.

“I hope you had a wonderful cruise and we hope to see you again,” Darcy beamed.

“It was the most fun. Thank you for the adventure yesterday and helping me with my errand, Darcy,” the woman smiled at her.

“You are most welcome.” Darcy noticed the woman’s husband waving down the woman. “I see your husband is waiting for you.”

With that they bid adieu. As the woman met up with her husband, Darcy called out, “Good luck with the auction. I hope it sells for a high price!”

The woman beamed back. “I think our local human society will benefit greatly from the price it brings!”

A month later, the Captain summoned Darcy to his office.

She sat down as instructed, her hands fidgeting in her lap.

He explained to her that corporate received an e-mail from a very happy passenger that a Crew member on this ship named Darcy, went above and beyond the call of duty while that passenger was on board and really deserved a healthy raise.

The Captain explained in more detail, “She went on to disclose in her lengthy e-mail that the selection Darcy made as her auction piece, brought in several thousand dollars for their local humane society. She also said  Darcy had a great eye for style. Lastly, she asked for the address in which she could send  a personal thank you. Corporate specifically asked me to question you about this to make sure you are indeed the woman the passenger is talking about since the passenger did not have a last name to give that went with Darcy.”

Darcy blushed, her voice temporarily on vacation but her smile reaching to her eyes.

The Captain chuckled at her response. “Am I correct in assuming that based on your reactions,  you are the correct Darcy?”

“Yes,” Darcy croaked out.

“Can you give me a quick telling of that day?” he asked.

Darcy retold the day and the next when the woman was leaving.

“Ah, you said it. You mentioned the silver shopping bag. She mentioned that in her e-mail as well. I needed to make sure, you were indeed the correct employee,” the Captain stated.

“I understand. Thank you for telling me,” she told him, relieved. “May I go now?”

“There’s one more thing. There is an opening in the gift shop. It pays more than your current job, so if you would like to change positions, the job is yours,” he said. “You have one week to give me an answer.”

Darcy was perplexed. She had not expected this turn of events. “Thank you sir. I will let you know before then.” She stood up and shook his hand.

“You are an excellent employee, Darcy,” the Captain said.

The next time Darcy was home, a large package was waiting for her at the post office.

She did recognize the return address. She had not ordered anything so she was curious.

Back at her tiny apartment, she carefully opened it up pulling back layers of tissue paper and bubble wrap. Inside was the intricate bronze and silver clock the elderly woman had bought.

Darcy gently set the clock onto her coffee table. She dug through box until she found a soft blue envelope.

On the front of the envelope in delicate handwriting was her name.

Enclosed was a card with dogs on the front woofing ‘Thank You’.

Inside the card read, ‘Dear Darcy, please enjoy the gift inside as it is my sincere thank you to you for making an old woman’s day. I will keep you in mind for next year’s event. You chose well. The dogs and cats of Cheshire County are truly blessed to have you as a friend. Warm regards, Eleanor Brigsby.’

Darcy absolutely loved her Cruise ship job.

On Monday, she cleaned the upper deck and helped people as needed; it was her day off.

On Tuesday, she opened the gift shop a few minutes late. A passenger had become disoriented not knowing which way her room was so Darcy helped her get back to it safely.

She smiled every day knowing she was truly blessed.

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