Thursday, June 4, 2015

stolen, recycled

I have a temper. Kind of a bad one.

 Thing is, I generally like people I know. In the superficial sense, most of the time when I meet people, I'm ready to like them, share a laugh, whatever. This works well with tugboat deckhands, or their mates and captains, as well. Creating a low-key and positive environment helps make the days go by. 

 Take the other day. We were coming into I Am Too Tired, an oil terminal in NY famous for never, ever getting shit right. They send dockmen down to tie up vessels after vessels have already tied up, and they often get on the VHF radio to discuss at length what kind of take out they want, at the exact same time when the guys loading oil are screaming for them to shut down because the ship or boat is now full... that old chestnut. 

  So we're coming into I Am Too Tired's docks, get one spring line thrown a long, long distance to perfectly lasso a heavy mooring bitt (enabling the guy at the wheel to veeeeeery gently throttle ahead and use the line to slingshot the hull alongside the dock), but the mooring line gets wedged between the bitt and the grating at the foot of the bitt, and if it comes tight, the platform around the bitt will get ripped off before the mooring line breaks, causing much wailing and gnashing of teeth and paperwork and pee tests and breathylyzer exams for everyone involved and everyone within peeing distance, too, for that matter.

 So with a mooring line now unusable, the deckhand runs down to the next bitt and fires another spring line out to lasso the bitt, and does so perfectly, and then proceeds to tie up the barge at another 4 points. Everywhere except for the spot with the effed up bitt.

 I jump (well, climb down a 16-foot ladder) down to the dock, fairlead the mooring line so it will pull straight up rather than horizontal, and have the deckhands put the line on a capstan and heave. No dice- can't heave the line up without ripping up the platform.

 OK, so easy solution. I call for a hacksaw and cut the line in about 20 seconds, we end-for-end the mooring line, and Bob's your uncle, we're all fast.

 The whole time I was doing this, our assist tugboat was working in conjunction with his deckhand's observations, keeping us in place, and moving us slightly here and there as I asked, putting tension on some lines, taking it off others, etc.  There was ample time for anyone to justifiably blow up at the time it was taking. But it was no one's fault, there was no damage except for the 20 minutes it took to resplice a new eye in the line yesterday after the job was done. And it's not like this is an easy thing, keeping a light barge alongside a dock in a swirling current with a breeze running offshore.

   Anyhow, I credit the working environment we created for having things get put in order so smoothly. Had I been working with one of the few assholes in my company, there'd be yelling, screaming and  probably a butthurt tugboat captain crying to my office about certain people not knowing their place. Instead, there were apologies, some laughs and well-wishes, and a friendly wave goodbye when the tugboat went on its' way.

    Bad or stressful situations don't make me lose my shit. Mundane, thoughtless ones bring out my inner Hulk. Take last week, where for three days I couldn't get ashore to get groceries and a prescription filled. Each time, it was "We'll get you to a dock when your next job is finished." And I was cool with that. It's not like I was out of insulin or needed Lithium or something. Thing is, every time we were almost finished with a job, another one would be tacked on, immediately, even though there were other guys who had been sitting for 3-4 days enjoying their shore access, and not working. THAT shit makes me mad. We're all getting paid the same. In the case of at least one of the vessels in question, the crew on board is fucking 100 years old, and, if not senile, then willfully incompetent, and, as such, probably kept not working for safety reasons... none of which made me feel much better as I faced the prospect of having to wipe my ass with copy paper or pages torn out of the safety training records binder in the days ahead.
   Well, OK, it wasn't that desperate. But you ain't going to get good performance out of people who aren't well cared for, is my point, and my often sunny disposition went away faster than a prom night dumpster baby. When I had enough and bitched (something I don't like to do. It's a virtual guarantee of the person on the phone pulling jobs off of other barges and throwing them on you ASAP), and got told it could be worse, they could give us TWO jobs, I had enough, saying "Just 'cus it's brown and hot, don't tell me that you're giving me soup."   Which got a laugh, anyhow... and then magically, we go to the dock that night. Granted, it was 11pm, but the suckers didn't know that the ghetto nearby has a 24-hour grocery store.

 And that grocery run at 11pm in a shitty neighborhood is another story.


Harry said...

Is also referred to as I missed the tide, and Paul be sure to carry your VHF with you when going up to the ghetto store...have your partner call out one Adam 12 call the station every few minutes.Scares the be jezus out of the riff-raff!

F said...

Why, oh why, are ALL ports in the ghettos!?