Very well, let me introduce you to The Policy. OM at that time had the policy (I don’t know if it has evolved) that – for the first year you serve with them – you agree to have no “special relationship” with a member of the opposite sex.
With over 300 very eager, very committed idealistic young people from over 40 countries, it was inevitable that there should be all kinds of attractions, especially among opposites! Given that we were a floating book exhibition, and sailors from the ships at quayside next to us assumed we were the Love Boat, we had to be especially careful.
Please bear with me! I recognize that in this day and age this process seems crazy.
Here it is:
Once you had been with OM a year, the interested fellow would speak with the Men’s Leader, who would then speak with the Women’s Leader, who would then communicate said interest to the woman in question! If the gal felt a corresponding emotion, then “secret social permission” was granted. That meant you could meet weekly for a couple of hours, in an office with the door cracked open, to get to know one another.
It was actually a very good setup. Because the ship family was a close one, rumours spread quickly. Secret social permission gave you a chance to privately discover if in fact there was affinity, before subjecting you to the pressure of the whole ship community.
After several weeks of this, if both people decided they wanted to move ahead and be a couple (date) then they were granted “public social permission.” If they felt they really were not very interested in each other, then it would end there, quietly.
When I joined the ship, Peter was finishing his two year commitment. I was just beginning mine… so social permission was not an option.
Our time at the conference had been enjoyable. There was definitely chemistry, unspoken. But he was going home to South Africa.
And so we said Goodbye.