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I have noticed that guest quarters on the Enterprise D have fruit bowls on their tables. A prominent instance is the fruit bowl in Berlinghoff Rasmussen's quarters in "A Matter of Time". The first thing that Rasmussen does when Data takes him to his guest quarters is take a piece of fruit and shove it in his pocket.

Who replicates fruit for these fruit bowls before guests arrive? More generally, who removes unused fruit and tidies quarters after guests leave? Is there a ship hospitality staff, perhaps including Guinan's wait staff in Ten Forward?

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    Anyone else think we’re running out of Star Trek questions to ask? – Paul D. Waite Feb 9 '15 at 13:44
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    @PaulD.Waite : Just a slow week. It's like saying that Star Trek was running out of ideas after the TNG episode "Masks". Just give it time. ;-) – Praxis Feb 9 '15 at 14:07
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    @PaulD.Waite : Anyway, not every question must be galaxy-shaking, right? The beauty of the 21st Century is that we even have a means to ask these questions in the first place. I remember 20 years ago when I was full of Star Trek questions but had no computer and certainly no Internet, and I was one of about only 3 fans that I knew in person in my town. If we couldn't find an answer in the Technical Manual or in some random authorized book, we would just have to theorize and be satisfied with that. Today, we still theorize a lot when it comes to questions on life in a... – Praxis Feb 9 '15 at 14:19
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    ...fictional universe, but at least there is a chorus of voices now. I no longer feel like the alien at the end of "Future Imperfect"! ;-) – Praxis Feb 9 '15 at 14:21
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    The fruit bowls are refilled by the same person who changes out the three seashells in the bathroom. – Omegacron Feb 9 '15 at 15:11
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I'm going to go out on a limb here and say "no-one". My guess is that rooms are automatically configured and maintained by the ship itself:

  • The Enterprise has replicators in every set of quarters and access to high-precision transporters.

  • The Enterprise has a powerful semi-intelligent AI.

  • We know from the TNG Technical Manual that guest quarters are configured "at short notice" but can only be reconfigured once someone is staying for a longer term.

  • We know from TNG : Up the Long Ladder that the ship intelligently cleans itself (Riker is confident that it will detect and clean the Bringloidi's dirty sheets and hay, despite these not being part of the ship's usual ephemera):

Worf and Picard EXIT the shot, and Riker walks back to Brenna. She is fastidiously picking up the sodden blankets.

RIKER : That wasn't necessary. The ship will clean itself.

BRENNA : Well, good for the bloody ship!

If I had to theorise about the fruit, I'd imagine that when you configure a guest room for a human visitor, you simply select a few items from a menu (fruit bowl, flowers, etc) and they're transported and then regularly replenished by the computer whenever the room is left empty.

Additionally, in STD we see cleaning droids floating around the place picking up mess, dusting and wiping. They just pop out of the walls and then disappear discreetly when not needed.


Moving down the canon scale, in the TNG novel Q and A (written by respected and prolific Trek author Keith R.A. DeCandido), we learn that Picard's quarters and bed are all maintained by something he refers to as "automated janitorial systems". No major explanation is given for their workings but apparently they not only clean the floors but also make the beds.

Jean-Luc set down his teacup on the end table next to the bed, then reached over to cup Beverly’s cheek with his right hand. “I must say, Beverly, I prefer this method of eating breakfast.”

Reaching over to the tray that sat between them on the bed, Beverly grabbed another croissant and stuck it in his mouth. “You’re just saying that because you don’t have to clean the bed.”

and

They stopped only when the clang of flatware falling to the floor startled both of them. Peering over the side of the bed, Beverly saw that the croissant tray and the jam had upended onto the carpet.

She looked at Jean-Luc and grinned. “Oops.”

“Oops, indeed. Suddenly, I’m rather grateful I don’t have to clean the room myself. Thank heaven for automated janitorial systems.

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    This is an interesting answer that I had never considered, and it makes me glad I asked the question in the first place. (I had my reservations --- pardon the pun.) – Praxis Feb 9 '15 at 14:12
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    @PaulD.Waite - A lot of Star Trek books read like bad porno ( but without the bit that makes it worth watching). – Valorum Feb 9 '15 at 23:54
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    You had me at fastidiously. – Mazura Feb 10 '15 at 2:25
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I don't know that we ever see this kind of housekeeping work on-screen, but this is the kind of task that you would normally expect a Yeoman to do.

Yeomen were commonly seen on-screen during ST:TOS, as well as the TOS-based movies. Captain Kirk's Yeoman (Janice Rand) played a significant role in a number of episodes. We don't see any Yeoman in ST:TNG, though Memory Beta claims there were references to them in supplemental material as late as DS9.

Yeoman is not so much a rank as it is a job title. They are essentially the "administrative staff" of Starfleet. The Captain's Yeoman, for example, was responsible for doing bookkeeping tasks for the Captain (note that Yeoman Rand was almost always carrying some form of clipboard and getting Kirk to sign things.) Given that Enterprise-D is, in part, a diplomatic vessel, keeping the guest quarters in shape to receive dignitaries would fall under the umbrella of the operations staff, primarily Yeomen.

Another possibility, though again I know of no reference to it on-screen, is that there is a civilian housekeeping staff assigned to the ship. This would make sense, as the Enterprise-D housed far more than just the military personnel -- it includes their families, for example. There would need to be a dedicated staff to keep the ship running smoothly, like a very large hotel. There may even be a mix of the two: civilian housekeeping responsible for "general guest rooms" and Yeomen assigned to maintain "official visitor's rooms".

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  • The word of god is that the rank of Yeoman wasn't around by the time of the TNG series. – Valorum Feb 9 '15 at 10:55
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    @Richard I know that's the official word from the TV series folks, but mostly that's because Roddenberry's original vision was to have "a hot chick Yeoman" following the captain around and they thought that was too sexist. They must have had someone filling in that position even if they changed the title and qualifications to something les blatently sexist and kept them off screen :) – KutuluMike Feb 9 '15 at 11:44
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    @MichaelEdenfield : Daniels in Enterprise was basically Archer's (male) Yeoman, although I believe they used the title "Steward". (On a side note, each time I read your name, I can't help but read it as "Michael Eddington".) – Praxis Feb 9 '15 at 22:22
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    Wasn't Sisko technically a Yeoman for Kirk for a very very brief amount of time? – CBredlow Apr 14 '16 at 19:02
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The Enterprise-D has over 1,000 people on board. Over 7 seasons screen time has been devoted to maybe 100. The closest we get to a rank-and-file hotel staffer is Ben in 7x15 Lower Decks, and he mainly serves drinks.

There are enlisted staff, civilian staff, replicators, transporters etc. but screen time is far too expensive to be devoted to utilitarian positions that do not move the plot forward.

One thing we don't see is utility robots. Star Wars is crawling with the things, Trek has either nothing or Data.

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    @Richard I disagree. Someone (or something) is obviously doing the housework. Given the production costs for a network TV series of this scale you won't see the hotel staff prepping the room - it really is too mundane. There's 44 minutes per episode, any plot so vacuous that they need to put the fruit-bowl prep on screen to fill time would not have made it to first read-through. – paul Feb 9 '15 at 14:06
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    I disagree with your disagreement. You see plenty of "behind the scenes" stuff over the episodes, including an entire episode spent with the junior officers. In all those episodes (and with hundreds of extras milling around doing "ship things" in the background) you never once see a single crewman tidying or cleaning. That speaks to it being a conscious and intentional choice on the part of the show's makers. – Valorum Feb 9 '15 at 14:15
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    And to take the example of the fruit bowl as just an example, it could even be something as simple as showing someone walking by carrying a fruit bowl around the time when a guest arrives on ship, while focusing on something else (senior crew members' conversation, for example). Or someone in the background dusting off a console. (I'm pretty sure this was actually done in Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning, a Star Trek parody.) You don't have to put everything front and center in a scene all of its own to show that it happens. – user Feb 9 '15 at 15:57
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    @paul What is the combination? – Erik Apr 14 '16 at 20:27
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    @Erik - I'm tempted to ask that as a question since it's got an answer (I think); tos.trekcore.com/hd/albums/1x24hd/thissideofparadisehd489.jpg – Valorum Oct 13 '19 at 20:05

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