Thursday, February 26, 2015

That's deep, man


Well, it was still cold as hell yesterday here on the 'Q, but the sun came out, and that was something to be thankful for. I can't remember the last time that happened.

 I'm feeling much better, mentally. Not quite as ready to seek out a bell tower and a high-powered rifle as I have been the past few days. I had some non-harsh but fairly strident words with a tug operator yesterday morning, something that VERY rarely happens, and which wasn't resolved, but was done with lots of yelling but no real disrespect, so... pretty good, as much as an ego-driven conflict can be.

 My employer isn't anywhere close to the highest-paying maritime company in the region. They're in the middle, somewhere, but when asked about my opinion on my employer, it's very positive. There's a very low percentage of d-bags among the afloat staff, the office weenies are top notch, and the work environment is excellent. Lots of coworkers bitch about the pay, but year in, year out, they're still here.

   Inappropriately Hot Foreign wife noted that I've been somewhat confrontational this past week. I suppose I have. I'm the go-along-to-get-along type, and try to leave my ego at home, with the exception of being rude. Someone gets rude, I tend to give it back tenfold in return.

  Ultimately, when little bumps in the road happen, it helps me to remember that our tugboat operators want the same things everyone else wants. A paycheck, no drama, and to get the hell home. I take shit from no man, of course, so arguments will happen, but in the scheme of things, who cares? I may not be on one guy's Christmas card list, but we can certainly work together.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Monday, February 23, 2015

Carnival! (NSFW version)

It's going down to  damn degrees tonight. Just put a blast heater pointed at the through-deck fitting that handles our running water. Hope we don't freeze up.

 Tomorrow's crew change, but not for me, which means it will be a long-ass day, and cold as hell, besides. To counter that, I present some warm and alluring sights from this year's Carnival in Rio De Janeiro.  Enjoy.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

"And eff your sh*#(y attitude, too."

I've been in a snit for a few days. Mid-tour blues? I'm about 12 days in now.

 Last night was one of those jobs where nothing goes well, and, rather than accept that philosophically, I got worked up into something of a lather. It happens.

       We're discharging 3,000 tons of fuel oil to a big post-Panamax container ship. The ship is already paying well north of a million bucks to top off the tanks, so they hire an outside surveyor to measure tanks. I know the guy, as well. A Pakistani dude, pleasant to talk to, but slow as balls.

 So, yeah, it takes 3 hours to go from catching lines to kicking the pumps on. 7 hours of pumping oil. then 2 hours to disconnect, pass papers and cast off.

 Along the way, it's snowing hard, then it becomes rain... then it becomes freezing rain. Very unpleasant. More unpleasant, however, is that it should have taken an hour and 15 minutes to go from catching the first line to starting the pumps, and it should have been 30 minutes to go from finishing cargo to casting off.  Joke's on them, though, and here's where I got testy. The ship and their hired surveyor are angry because they didn't get their diesel oil. Along with their heavy fuel oil, they also ordered a couple hundred tons of diesel, which was being carried by another barge, which would come in behind us after I left. Well and good, right? Well, because they ship's crew were so slow, and the surveyor was slower, the diesel barge sailed right past us and went to another ship. The ship's crew was cranky because they were going to have to delay sailing, something that is a big no-no. I, being wet, cold and hungry, wasn't in a listening sort of mood, so I got cranky right back, telling them that whether through incompetence or laziness, we had lost well over 3 hours where I was sitting, ready and available waiting for them to get their shit together, and the diesel barge had other ships waiting, so it made no sense for us to delay other ships just because this one couldn't get their shit together.

    Eventually we parted ways, and my watch ended on the ride from Port Elizabeth to our mooring buoy out in Stapleton anchorage.

 Now, I would have killed for a glass of whisky and a good book when I got into my bunk, but booze being a forbidden commodity, settled for a glass of diet pepsi and my book, and it wasn't as good, but it was still good.

       Today seems to be better. I'm not quite my sunny self, but I'm getting there. I'm so fucking tired of being snowed on and living in the dark. I may not literally kill a man for a glass of whisky, but I might be tempted into human sacrifice if it would bring us a sunny day with no fucking wind and snow.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

uh huh

Mine Is The Fury (rant)

N. B. ... I hesitated to publish this one. No one enjoys airing laundry in public, but I'm hoping this will provide a touch of catharsis. 

SO... one of our mariners named T, a short old tub of shit scumbag who works for my company, went out on his deck to throw off our lines. We were moored alongside them for the night, you see, and it was time to go to work.

"Hey, you guys know how (my company's recruiter) stopped the riots in Ferguson? He dropped applications from a helicopter!"  Silence. The gang on deck look at the guy, or, more accurately, we all look away from the guy, saying nothing, acknowledging nothing.

 "You get it? The applications made them run away. And no one looted any workboots!"

 Look, I hate the overuse of the phrase 'dog whistle." But this was one. Racist shit from a guy I already know is racist, a man who doesn't really know me. I'm old enough to have realized that most qualities that people list to justify being racist come as a marker of class, not color. Assholes come in many shades.

 I've met T before. I already don't like him. He's a loudmouth, which is a mortal sin among mariners, as well as being lazy and profoundly stupid, and, to boot, an out-of-the-closet racist.

 Look, if you fired every mariner who ever made a bigoted statement, there'd be no mariners. Every one of us, regardless of our skin color, has said dumb, mean-spirited racist shit that we're not proud of. I include myself. Most of us have the basic decency to be ashamed when it happens, and, of those who don't, have at least the smarts to keep their mouths shut when among strangers.

        Now, before I had reason to dislike T, I already disliked T. He's got one of those personalities that, 15 seconds after you meet him, you already know that you will never, ever like the man.  Which pretty much is the opinion of everyone when the guy's name gets mentioned, which, usually is associated with something negative. Dude don't have a lot of friends, is what I'm saying.

    My former right-hand man, who is black, had to work with T for a week. This was after D's promotion, when he was given his own barge as barge captain. Done as a favor for the ladies in HR.

 Tony immediately got into why he didn't like niggers. D, a calm, positive, polite guy who is damn near always ready to smile and is one of the more personable people I know, refrained from throwing the little shit over the side, and, out of pity for any dependents that might rely on the douchebag, didn't report this little repartee to our offices, settling it with a 'you don't talk to me. Period.' sort of agreement, for which I now honor him for his restraint.
     Well, rather than go along to get along, and continue admiring my feet while uncomfortably waiting for the prick to shut up and/or die of heart disease, I have had enough. As I said, I already don't like the guy, and now I've got venomous dislike for him.

 "Hey T? You know I'm in an interracial marriage, right?"

   Now, I've pulled this one before. Invariably, it shuts people up FAST. Most turn purple, stammer apologies follow. Some suddenly get blacker than thou, and a guy who was all "I'm not in the KKK, but I understand where they're coming from," suddenly was marching on Martin Luther King's left-hand side back in the day. Well, not T. The man's number than a pounded thumb, and a pretty proud racist, I guess. I drop my little bomb, get a lame "You know I wasn't talking about black people, right?"
 Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife isn't actually of African descent, being half Brazilian Indio and half Italian, but that doesn't matter. I don't have skin in the game, if you want to get technical, except that some shit you just can't let go.

 "Really? Who were you talking about, then?"
      Silence follows. Blissful silence.

 Well I can name this tune. Prevaricating is about to happen, and to cut that off (because who wants to hear that from a man you neither like nor respect?), I simply say something along the lines of "You need shut your mouth and walk away."
     I don't want to rat the guy out. I figure the assbag's pushing 60, is at least 100lbs overweight, and is only about 5foot 6, so a long retirement's unlikely anyhow. It may not have been the right thing to do but I took my own advice and closed my mouth too, and walked away.

 Later, a trainee deckhand told me that he was very happy I shut the guy up. For my part I got embarassed that a kid green as a leaf on a tree had to see the quality of some of the barge folk in my company in that light.

 So, the rest of the watch was tainted, after that. I was pretty pissed off, and you know every man hates that feeling of regret when you don't beat the tar out of someone who so desperately needs beating. But I'm not the type to beat a middle aged man, and I'm not going to get my ass fired for the sake of a moment's pleasure. But Lord, I wanted to. My blood was up all day, and with no outlet for it, I tried to bury myself in work, but it being in single digits temperature-wise, that wasn't happening either.
Some days are better than others, I guess.