Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas


December 3, 2013

Who was that kid?

— He was, almost certainly, a young man whose name we’ll never know. Perhaps age 10, he was nondescript, like a background figure in a Charlie Brown comic strip. He sought not to make a name for himself, but rather to help out — not “paying it forward,” but “paying it up and down.”

My wife and I, among the 3,100 guests disembarking from the week-long maiden voyage of Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Sunshine, were back in New Orleans. It was time to face the “real world” after a few days of “good old summertime” in the Caribbean.

On the elevator down, we noticed the youngster stationed nearest the button panel, assuming he “belonged” to one of the three other couples on the car. After all adults exited, he remained on the elevator, and we realized our error of assumption. This well-scrubbed, happy “button-pusher,” his voice raised slightly, announced, “Going up.” He seemed resolute to help luggage-laden guests end on a high note. We scratched our heads like folks in Lone Ranger episodes, pondering the identity of the “masked man.”

Transfixed, we watched the process twice more before the announcement of our disembarking number beckoned us to the gangway.

Each shoreward step brought with it lowered temperatures and heightened memories of a grand week that underscored good intentions?rendered both corporately and by individuals.

These good deeds were capped off by a nameless youngster seemingly determined to help out.

Upon boarding, we “oohed and aahed” over the $155 million makeover of the Carnival Destiny — the largest cruise ship on the high seas when it debuted in 1996. We soon overheard several conversations about Filipino crew members who make up some 15 percent of Carnival’s 39,000 employees.

Many of them, of course, were affected by the typhoon that wiped out so much of their homeland. It was gratifying to learn that Carnival’s parent company, Carnival Corporation — along with the Miami Heat — already had written a $1 million check to help the stricken area.

Further, the corporation pledged another $100,000 as matching funds for employee gifts. Additionally, the cruise line underwrote free transportation back to the Philippines for employees whose lives were hardest hit. Other crew members “doubled up” to cover duties of their grieving comrades, readily adding to already challenging responsibilities. They were cheerful givers, realizing that if their Filipino companions had remained at their work stations, they would have been smiling by day but crying by night.

This backdrop  brought with it thoughts of how crew members work relentlessly, certain that their jobs represent “tickets out” from far less attractive employment opportunities back home.

Again, they are “Everyman” — and, of course, “Everywoman” — mostly nameless. Some impress so greatly, however, that one feels compelled to learn their names and details of their pilgrimage.

One such person is Marzhan Batyrshayeva. At age 22, she is manager of the ship’s Ji Ji Restaurant, which features Asian cuisine. In our view, it provides the most memorable dining experience on the vessel. A native of Kazakhstan, at age 20 she saved money for a plane ticket to Lithuania, where her future rested on a positive interview with the cruise line. With charm, beauty and a glacier-melting personality, she was hired. Now, she directs the work of an entire staff — all of whom are her elders

Much is different about the Sunshine, which, in 75 days, was transformed by thousands of contractors working around the clock on a massive project unprecedented in maritime history.

The result is a masterpiece, details of which are too many to describe.

Foretelling cruise delights was the ship’s naming ceremony, highlighted by enthusiasm churned by band members and cheerleaders of New Orleans’ Destrehan High School. They won performing rights after competing with 20-plus other schools

The program  was stunning. Lin Arison, whose late husband Ted founded CCL in 1972, pressed the button to electronically break a champagne bottle against the bow. (Mardi Gras, Carnival’s first vessel, went aground on its maiden voyage.)

Officials spoke; a priest offered a prayer of blessing.

Program-planning professionals pushed “all the right buttons.” Remembered equally as much, though, is the unscripted role of an unnamed youngster. He, too, pressed buttons to help out.


Dr. Don Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. He may be reached by email at His website is Follow him on Twitter: @donnewbury


Text Only
  • Deanna Kirk Water Park woes

    I’ve come to the realization that vacations are not a luxury, they’re a necessity.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dr Don Newbury 2014.jpg Old, new, borrowed, blue

       Dissection of notes found in the pocket of an old suit isn’t easy. Maybe they were scrawled during the lull in a wedding ceremony, or to jog my memory of a joke for later use.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dick Platt 2014.jpg Spam french fries

    I saw a relatively disturbing video and article on Yahoo which touted making Spam French fires to go alongside your big old ground chuck burger. I just can’t imagine a basket full of these deep-fried cholesterol-loaded sticks, but there they were, bigger than Texas.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Janet Jacobs Dumb and dumber in the blotter

    When it comes to dumb criminals, nothing beats the would-be gang of car burglars who tried to break into a car in Tampa, Florida, this past week.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Belcher, Bob.jpg ‘Change’ — old "buzz word" shows up in our town

    If you pay much attention when you’re driving around town lately (and I really hope that you do — pay attention, that is) you can’t help but admit we’ve seen some “change” as of late. And, contrary to the political connotations that word will forever carry with it now, that “change” we’re seeing is good.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill Tinsley Germany present and past

    Last Sunday evening my wife and I stood on the balcony of our apartment in Nuremberg and watched as fireworks lit up the sky.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dr Don Newbury 2014.jpg Where strawberries are king

    In 1949, when Stilwell, Oklahoma’s “Strawberry Festival” was just one year old, crooners were applauded when they cut loose with Dear Hearts and Gentle People.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dick Platt 2014.jpg My TV is held hostage

    Give me back my TV! The Sunday sports fare today is just pitiful as far as I am concerned. Over the past weeks, my normal sports programs has been rudely preempted by endless hours of Wimbledon tennis, the Tour de France, assorted motor sports, and the nauseating mega-million signing sagas of LeBron James and Carmello Anthony

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Janet Jacobs Thoughts from abroad

    So, with the generosity of Mastercard and warm encouragement of my friends who went with me, I went to Italy on vacation. Not Italy, Texas, the one in Europe.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • deannakirk.jpg For a community that’s hurting

    I think all would agree that our community is hurting right now.
    It seems like some weeks, our quota of tragedy and loss just goes through the roof. This is one of those weeks.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo