Why is This Man Smiling??
Tales of the Rhapsody 2004
Six: Mr. Windjammer!
Written by Rick Archer
Richardson Sets New Records for Fun!
suppose in a way a cruise trip is like an all-you-can-eat
buffet. When it comes to fun, you can go back for
second and third helpings. Gary Richardson had more
fun on the Rhapsody 2004 Trip than I could ever imagine.
a big wide smile all trip long. And you know what, he deserved his smile
and I am going to tell you why!!
First, here's some background.
Gary and I have been friends now for seven years. To make a long story
short, back in 1997 Gary single-handedly taught me how to use a computer.
(Read the story)
Using the movie It's a Wonderful
Life for comparison, without Gary I wouldn't have this web site, these
pictures, these stories, email or my newsletter. These days I use a
computer to create the SSQQ Schedule. Without Gary, I would still be
using my Light Table to cut and paste Clip Art onto a type-written schedule
like I did in the Eighties and most of the Nineties.
Gary brought me into the 21st Century
kicking and screaming, but here I am. Thank goodness for Gary!
Gary owns his own computer store. He calls it "TFW Computers". TFW stands
for The Floppy Wizard. Is that
corny or what? Floppy Disks were outmoded years ago, but Gary
clung to the name for sentimental reasons. Then some marketing genius said
Gary needed a better name so he came
up with "TFW Computers." Whoa, now that was a clever idea.
As you will gather from this story, I enjoy teasing Gary a lot. Don't feel
sorry for him - he always gets me back. I also respect the heck out of his workmanship. I own 19 computers that Gary has built for me. Every one of
them still works. Granted some of the early ones aren't terribly
fast, but that isn't Gary's fault. And, by the way, they still work.
While it is true
that his computers are somewhat more expensive than one you
might buy at an electronics outlet, Gary's service is what
truly brings me back time and time again. If something
goes wrong with my computer... and it always does.... Gary
will fix it. He has rescued my butt time and time
again. The quality of his computers and his wonderful
sense of responsibility explain my deep loyalty to him.
Gary and the $20 Photography Controversy
Gary was at the unwitting center of a 2004 Photography controversy upon our
return from the cruise. It wasn't his fault; Gary never said a word to me.
I started the argument all by myself because I had a lot of anger on a
Photography issue left over from the previous two years.
Gary and Betty came along on our 2002 Rhapsody Cruise, the trip gave him the
perfect opportunity to pursue his favorite hobby of dancing. During
that trip, Gary was a perpetual motion dance machine. Gary loves to dance
so much he almost never sits out a song. As a result he has become popular
with the ladies as a dance partner.
Gary's second favorite hobby is photography. Gary is
very good at it. Back on his first cruise trip in
Gary offered to take pictures on our 2002 Rhapsody trip. When the
trip was over, Gary handed me a CD with all the pictures.
I was stunned! Gary had handed me a thousand pictures
and every one of them was great!
Gary and I made
a great team. Gary doesn't enjoy writing like I do,
but he loves taking pictures. I hate taking pictures,
but I love to write. When we combine our talents, we are the best
teammates since Woodward and Bernstein.
Thanks to all
those pictures, all my memories of the trip came flooding
back in. My cruise recap of the 2002 Trip was easily
my finest to date. Plus everyone in our group loved
seeing their pictures posted! (Rhapsody
Gary's lovely wife Betty
Gary had women all around him everywhere he went on this time. Here we see
the G-Man with Betty, Maureen, and Maureen's sister Linda.
Gary and Betty at Rick and Marla's Wedding
Gary and Betty Richardson
Here is something I
wrote about Gary on that 2002 trip:
was especially wonderful this night. Having volunteered to be the
official Cruise Photographer, at dinner time he unselfishly gave of his
time to take one shot after another of all the beautiful woman and
handsome men dressed for Formal Night.
'Glamour' is a huge missing element from most of our lives. It was fun
to work hard to look our best, then have someone with Gary's patience
and talent to take our pictures so we could have these memories.
Nor was it just this night that Gary's photographic skill was appreciated.
From start to finish, Gary worked overtime to take one picture after
another to chronicle our trip. He had so many pictures that at the end
he used the resources of his computer store, TFW Computers, to generate
a travelogue of our week's adventure on a CD.
He told me he spent 30 hours (yes, 30 HOURS!) putting this CD together,
a real labor of love. As a result of his hard work, all we had to do was
pop his CD in our computer and watch for 20 minutes as a slide show of
300 different pictures flashed across the screen. Gary did an amazing
service for all of us."
Truth be told, back in 2002
when Gary offered to take pictures for the cruise, I had no idea Gary was going to
invest so much time! Not only did he take countless pictures, later
he put them into a
sophisticated slide show. Once I saw the finished product, I was
stunned at what a professional job he had done.
The picture on the left is a
perfect example of the service Gary provided for the group. He
took a great picture of twenty smiling guests in our group... and he
took a thousand other pictures just like it. For years to come,
people will see that picture and realize immediately how much fun we
After the 2002 Trip ended,
Gary put all his wonderful pictures into a CD which served as a trip
think he charged $7 or something like that. At the time, I assumed
practically everyone on the trip would buy a copy of the CD.
However Gary only sold about 20 copies. Maybe one in four passengers
bought a copy.
I was furious when I learned that his hard work was so
widely ignored. I vowed I would take better care of him on the next trip. It wasn't fair
for Gary to put in so much time and not be rewarded.
With that thought in mind, during our next trip - Jubilee 2003 - I
personally plugged his picture CD to everyone who would listen. This time
Gary charged $10 a copy. He sold perhaps 50 copies to a group of 150 people.
This was an improvement over 2002, but not enough to make me happy.
That made two years in a row that I was upset that more people weren't buying Gary's picture CDs!
I even tried selling copies to my students by personally asking them to
Most people said "NO". I was left with over 20 copies of
that CD sitting in my studio's DJ booth that were never sold. Every
time I saw those unsold CDs, I would automatically get mad again.
Hence, once the 2004
Rhapsody Trip came around, I vowed to avoid a repeat of the photography
fiascos from the previous two years. Upon our return from the trip, I sent
out this somewhat controversial memo:
"Did you know that I still have 20 copies
of Gary's CDs from the 2003 Jubilee Trip sitting in a box at home?
Last year Gary gave me these CDs to sell
to trip members, but only a few actually claimed their copies.
We had 144 people aboard last year's trip, but Gary sold only 50 CDs at
$10 a pop. He told me he spent 40 hours editing that CD. 40 hours! And
that is IN ADDITION to all the time he spent taking the pictures on board
the ship. Nor should you forget all of his equipment and expertise he
donated to create this CD.
One incident from Jubilee
2003 in particular stuck in my mind
like a bad memory tends to do.
One night Gary gave me
the CDs to sell at the studio. With the CDs in my hand, I
went around the studio and asked 10
different members of the trip if they would like to buy a copy. I sold 4
One woman looked me straight in my eye and said she didn't need
one because a friend of hers had promised to burn a copy
on her computer. Why
pay for it?
I said nothing in
reply, but those words burned a hole in my soul. I
could not believe someone would say something so insulting.
Twenty Dollar CD Controversy Continued
A month after
our 2004 Cruise ended, Gary offered to show all the pictures
he had taken plus the pictures other people had contributed
at a Post-Cruise Travel Party. He said he would offer
to sell to CDs at the end of the party. I suggested he
for the CD. In addition, I would request via email that
I wanted a $20
contribution from every person in attendance. In
return, they would enjoy a great party and have the CD as
On the last night of the
2004 Rhapsody trip, I visited the photography section aboard the Rhapsody to buy
copies of their group pictures. Each one sold for $20. As I stood in
line to pay for the pictures, it occurred to me I had seen members of
the trip plunk down their ship card to pay for $20
pictures all week long.
The Rhapsody is entitled to a fair return on their work as far as I am
concerned, but if a person is willing to pay $20 for a single picture on
the ship, I felt certain
each person could afford to pay $20 for
600 pictures to
Gary and a party showcasing all his pictures.
anyone was suspicious, every cent
straight to Gary.
Gary took this
picture of the Wedding Reception
Gary let Betty
take this picture of our flowers
Gary took this
picture of the
Gary took this
picture of the
Gary took this
picture of the Centrum
Reactions to Rick's Twenty Dollar Shakedown
Obviously I was
taking a chance. Why ruffle feathers? Well, in
my mind, I was standing up for a friend. All I could
think about was Gary putting in 30, 40 hours of his free
time editing all those pictures just so someone could burn
free copies for their buddies. Where is the justice in
I figured if the
cruise guests wanted to come to the party and see the
pictures, why not ask them to step up and purchase the CD?
There were mixed
reactions. Some people completely agreed with me.
Some people didn't agree.
After I mentioned my decision to
one of the people from our 2004
group, she pointed out that the $20 Rhapsody picture was a
hard copy that could be framed and placed on her wall.
At the same time, a CD wouldn't
look as good on her wall.
Rick Counters: Well, Yes, this is true. I suppose a silver CD
hanging on the wall at home won't elicit quite the same memories as a
picture would. Nor would a computer monitor hanging permanently from the
ceiling have the right touch.
On the other hand, I pointed out that she could take Gary's CD to a Wal-Mart
and get a 4 by 6 hard copy made for 25 cents. Or a 5 by 7 copy for $1.50.
Or an 8 by 10 for $3. Then
she could hand
out her favorites to friends,
put a couple in frames, and even hang a few if the
spirit moved her.
I wrote an email
to the 2004 Cruise group.
I said that Gary's contribution
was a gift from his heart. And I know he would probably
give the CD to any person
for free if they gave him a
good reason. But I didn't want to
put Gary on the spot. I
told everyone this was not Gary speaking, this was Rick
speaking. I was now acting as his Agent to avoid a repeat of
last year's travesty.
I said that each
person should not only pay the $20 without even
batting an eye, they should also thank him from the bottom of
for his talent and the sacrifice of his time to provide this service
for the entire group.
I would peg the email results of my
letter as 4 to 1 in favor of my decision. I received 10 comments, 8
pro and 2 against and 110 people said nothing.
The emails in favor said something like these two letters:
Rick, Please mark me
down for a resounding "I'll pay the $20!" Gary was not only taking
pictures of everything, he was hilariously funny and entertaining.
I may not be able to make the party next Friday (possible family
commitments), but I'll be happy to bring you a $20 anytime for the CD.
I can't wait until next year for another cruise. See you on the dance
floor! Have a wonderful day!
Hey Mr. & Mrs. Archer,
Great idea to have a post cruise party, I'll make something to eat for
that night...The CD fee $20.00 is fine with me since I spent $40.00
purchasing 8 rolls of film and $3.00 additional developing fee for putting
the pictures on a cd (per roll)I was able to used 6 roll (25 exp.) each, I
purchased the group picture $20.00So now I have 151 picture at a value of
hmmmm...$20 sounds really good to me right now...but, then again I love
taking pictures and having those memories for years to come....
However not everyone agreed with my
suggestion. There were at least two people who were willing to voice their opinion
in writing plus I gather there was at least a little grumbling behind the
scenes. I assume most of the people who disagreed with me were in
the 110 group.
new person to the group, I was more or less going to go with the group.
Since you are asking so specifically, here is my opinion.
I strongly disagree with a mandatory after the fact fee. If we were
looking for a group photographer, I would have been happy to devote 40
hours and make over $2,000 for it. I think this is a great return.
not know that Gary was a designated photographer for the group. I saw lots
of people taking lots of pictures. However, I never saw Gary anywhere
around the various groups and places I was. As far as I am aware, Gary
took one picture of me during the trip, at the very end of the trip.
don't even know if that picture came out. Whenever I saw Gary, he was with
his little group and taking pictures of them. Just as I saw many others
taking pictures of the little groups they were with.
On the ship, I had an opportunity to have professional pictures taken and
to purchase them if I liked them. It was my choice to spend the money. I
also had the opportunity to purchase a video or cd of the week. Again, it
was my choice.
Maureen shared her pictures with us
(through you) and we could purchase whichever ones we wanted. I know
others who planned on sharing pictures as well.
If we were going to have a designated photographer, it should have been
announced as such and charged for ahead of time. I would have made sure
that my picture was taken with group members on formal nights and while I
I think charging a fee up front would have made the pictures
uniformed of everyone on the trip and would avoid the upset that a
mandatory after the fact fee incurs.
Finally, I agree that there should be no duping of Gary's cd. If you like
what is on the cd, you should pay for it.
I had a wonderful trip with lots of great memories. I hope this chapter
ends on a happy note as well."
Rick's Reaction to
the Disagreement Letter
The thing to remember is this was my fight, not Gary's.
I was embarrassed at the way my friend had been treated for the past two
No one but me bothered
to think what the consequences would be without his help. Over half
the group was sending the message to Gary that his work was
not appreciated. If Gary
were to get fed up and stop making his enormous contribution, a HUGE part of
every trip would be lost.
I would still write the stories, but the pictures that accompany my
stories would disappear.
There would not be page after page after page of great pictures to help
capture the spirit of each of adventure. Gary's pictures do as much
to tell the story as my words do. Some people would go
so far as to say Gary's pictures do an even better job.
As for the "Mandatory After the Fact Fee for the CD", the letter writer was totally
off base. There was no mandatory fee. If they didn't want to buy the
CD, no one was forcing them to do so.
If they did not
wish to be obligated to pay for the CD, I wasn't obligated to throw a Post-Trip Party at my studio, was I??
The whole point of the party was to review the trip through Gary's
pictures. Buying the CD was the simply the price of admission.
And let me add I paid my $20 just like everyone else.
I can tell you the Post-Trip Party was an absolute blast. We had 40
people there who laughed and laughed till their bellies split open.
The Beatlemania story was a big hit, but when we got to the Hot Tub pictures
and the amazing Mr. Handsome with his see-it-to-believe-it pictures, we
started to laugh so hard our eyes began to water. (Don't worry - I
will write these stories soon and add the incriminating pictures. Let me
add that if it were not for these pictures, you probably wouldn't believe
a word I said!!)
As it turned out, on the night of the party, I did not
insist that anyone pay when they got to the party. It
was up to them whether they bought the CD or not. We
had 40 people, but Gary sold about 20 CDs... same total as
I was very
discouraged. All that fuss and it didn't do a bit of
good. I still find it amazing that the
Rhapsody makes thousands of dollars from our group on pictures, but Gary can't
sell his personalized CD to even 16% of our passengers. Why some people will shell out
a thousand dollars for a cruise, buy dozens of over-priced drinks and over-priced
tee-shirts, and then turn around and protest buying Gary's CD is beyond
Nevertheless, Gary can at least know that Marla and I were both
unbelievably grateful for all his help in making this year's 2004 trip easily
our most fabulous cruise ever. This quality of the Cruise Recap here on my web site with 8 pages of
stories and 7 pages of pictures would not have been nearly the same without his
marvelous talent and efforts.
Gary's work should be appreciated by all of our trip members, but especially by me.
Gary's pictures write the stories for me. That makes
Thank you, Gary! I am very grateful for your work!
Many of the people on
this trip knew that Gary's official SSQQ nickname was "Mr. Windjammer"
or "Jammer" for short.
For those who have not been on the Rhapsody,
is a stunningly beautiful all-day dining area at the front of the ship.
You always have a choice between eating formally in the elegant Dining Room or
having the buffet in the Windjammer. Many of our group save the Dining
Room for dinner and eat their daytime meals in the spacious and comfortable Windjammer.
It is the perfect Meeting Place to hang with the group.
Here is an excerpt from the story I wrote about the 2002 Rhapsody Cruise:
"I got a good
laugh today when Marla and I ran into Gary and
Betty Richardson at the Windjammer Café for lunch. I told Betty how in
sync we were because it seemed like every time I ate at the Windjammer,
by some amazing coincidence she and Gary were
Betty smiled and said it was no coincidence.
She said Gary stayed in the Windjammer four hours a day so he could take
pictures and share stories with everyone. In other
words, it was no accident that I kept running into Gary. In fact,
it was practically impossible to miss him!
At first I just thought the guy
always got hungry at the same time I did. But
now that Betty
had let the cat out of the bag, I knew the secret. The man
once known as "Mr. Longhorn" was simply
holding court. A new nickname was born. Gary
would hence be known as "Mr. Windjammer".
(Side Note: Considering how much Gary talked all day long, the
name fit perfectly!)
So Why is this Guy Smiling?
say, a picture is worth a thousand words.
I think the
pictures tell it all.
himself on the cruise for the simple reason that he has everything
he could possibly want to make him happy.
his beautiful wife Betty.
his flock of beautiful girlfriends... all perfectly innocent I might
to hang out in the Windjammer all day long taking pictures and
talking to friends.
to dance all evening long.
to dance till the wee hours of the morning.
don't know this, but shortly before Gary began dancing back in the
late Nineties, he was diagnosed with a serious medical problem.
started dancing, when he went back for his next checkup, the doctor
was amazed at the change in his report. Gary had
managed to heal himself through dancing.
about the psychological benefits of dancing all the time, but there
are physical benefits as well.
Gary has it all on these cruises - he keeps himself healthy, he
enjoys his twin hobbies of dancing and photography, plus everywhere
he goes, he is surrounded by his friends and his entourage of beautiful women.
What more could a guy ask for?
A Very Happy Guy
Adventures with the Captain