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Why is This Man Smiling??

Tales of the Rhapsody 2004 Cruise
Chapter Six: Mr. Windjammer!

Written by Rick Archer


Gary Richardson Sets New Records for Fun!

I 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.

Gary had 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.  Much snappier!

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. 

When 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 2002, 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 2002)

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:

"Gary Richardson 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 were having. 

After the 2002 Trip ended, Gary put all his wonderful pictures into a CD which served as a trip memento.  I 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 buy one. 

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 copies.

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.

The 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 charge $20 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 well.

Why $20?  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.  In case anyone was suspicious, every cent would go 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 dance workshop

Gary took this picture of the dance workshop

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 that?

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.

Disagree:  After I mentioned my decision to one of the people from our 2004 cruise 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 their heart 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:

Letter One:

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!

Letter Two:

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 $120.00

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.

Letter of Disagreement

As a 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.

I did 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.

I 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 was dancing.

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

This letter angered me.   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 years. 

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 last year.  

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 me.

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 me happy. 

Thank you, Gary!  I am very grateful for your work!


Mr. Windjammer

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, The Windjammer 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 also there.

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!)

Gina Lollabridgida

Betty Jo

So Why is this Guy Smiling?

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

I think the pictures tell it all. 

Gary enjoys himself on the cruise for the simple reason that he has everything he could possibly want to make him happy.

Gary has his beautiful wife Betty.

Gary has his flock of beautiful girlfriends... all perfectly innocent I might add.

Gary gets to hang out in the Windjammer all day long taking pictures and talking to friends.

Gary gets to dance all evening long.

Gary gets to dance till the wee hours of the morning.

Most people don't know this, but shortly before Gary began dancing back in the late Nineties, he was diagnosed with a serious medical problem.

After Gary 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.

We talk about the psychological benefits of dancing all the time, but there are physical benefits as well.

I think 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


Next: Chapter Seven

Adventures with the Captain


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