I had one of those Deja Vous moments yesterday.
Yesterday was kind of a shitty day for me. Some unhappy news about the health of a family member, a primo case of diaper rash from working too long in sweaty drawers the day before, and I just got to feeling soggy and hard to light yesterday.
So one of our generators died via a busted radiator, and we went to the home office & dock for the replacement. Now, my place was with the engineer, as an extra pair of hands... and I was just feeling sorry for myself and all cunty, you know?
Anyhow, at one point I stuck my head in a locker and pulled out a pack of a dozen work gloves.
I go through work gloves like toilet paper. At any time I've got 6 pairs in rotation, scattered in their respective homes around ship. It makes my partner out here nuts, as it can be unsightly, a pair of dirty leather and canvas gloves looking remarkably like a rag or whatever, and not being shipshape. But it gets tolerated after a fashion, because my hands are dainty and shameful. I've written before about what happened. Couple fingers got mostly severed, rebuilt, some puncture injuries from fishing, at least a half dozen cases of blood poisoning there, lots of broken digits and knuckles and a persistent infection that lasted about 20 years. I can't really write with a pen too well, or hold a shovel without strong discomfort, but I type in the vicinity of 90 words a minute, and can still thread a needle after a fashion and pick my nose, so I get by.
When I was AB on the tanker NEW RIVER, we got one pair of gloves a month, and that was it. With my pussy hands, it wasn't all that pleasant. I remember distinctly having to break my gloves in every morning so they'd bend, like you do with a baseball glove, after they got a couple of weeks old, and nipping through popped seams with a mortician's needle and palm laced with dental floss to keep them functional until new ones came in.
That was how that company rolled. You had to have coveralls on and full PPE to prevent exposure to oil and chemicals, but you wore gloves that were marinated in diesel, gasoline, naptha and VGO.
I often use this blog as my personal agony column and portable fainting couch, but every now and again, like yesterday, a little moment comes through, and suddenly, where five minutes before I would have thrown a shackle at anyone who called my name, like oil on the water, seeing that stupid pack of gloves was very calming. I don't know. I'm having my period or something.
My hands hurt. Every fucking day. From November to May, they're curled up into claws and prone to cracking open and bleeding at the last provocation. But you know? I keep them clean and dry, and fresh gloves when I need them, and it's not too bad. It's better than it was 20 years ago before I did half the stupid shit that I did to them. In the past year, with a new medication, I sometimes even have fingerprints here and there. Currently they're doing well. These are my hand salad days, I guess.
All for the sake of using $20 worth of cheap canvas and leather gloves every month, rather than doling them out like crusts of bread. The idea of that would have made my last employer scoff, and that sort of attitude was exactly why working there required a union. Here, at least, I can take care of my little girl hands, and hell, with the gloves on, I don't have to feel so damn ashamed of them.
IN THE EMAIL FROM J. M. NEY-GRIMM: The Tally Master….
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