Saturday, January 2, 2010

Ever see a grown man cry?

What a tragedy! What a damn shame!

This afternoon I bunkered up a russian bulk carrier. She stank to high heaven (the ship, I mean). The ship was discharging about 20,000 tons of cocoa beans, which smell exactly like feet, as it happens. Imagine the smell of 20,000 tons of feet trapped in a steel box for 3 weeks. Yeah.

Anyhow, the tragedy came at the end, when the engineer gave me a little package along with my paperwork. Such 'gifts' are common everywhere but here in the US. In the package were three cans of coke and three extremely cold and impossible to import bottles of Bohemia beer, the good stuff brewed in Amsterdam which ain't exported.
Now, it would be impossible to give back such a gift without getting it thrown forcibly at my head if I tried. The engineer knew what he was doing. He knew that an American mariner would not bring beer aboard his own turf- this was a rare gift indeed- very thoughtful... and very dangerous for me.

Alcohol is strictly forbidden when one deals with oil. I'm pretty sure that the penalty for partaking is more harshly dealt with onboard than, say, if I were to fire a loafer at the Commander-In-Chief whilst he was visiting my neck of the woods.

Anyhow, I thanked the engineer profusely, and left the package on my after deck. When we backed out of the berth and pointed the pointy end towards home, I buried those beautiful beers at sea. The sun was setting, there were seagulls chasing our wake, and it was all very poetic as one by one, the unopened bottles took a swim.

You see, ever since the Exxon Valdez, alcohol and the tankerman have been a toxic mix. Like pop-rocks and coca-cola and drano. On the one hand, this has led to greatly increased professionalism throughout the industry, and a new focus on safety and the fostering of competency. On the other hand, I threw three perfectly drinkable beers in the water, and after being thrown into 4 consecutive 15-18 hour days, a beer might have been nice.

Karma does come with its' own rewards, however. After I said goodbye to my presents, I went inside and saw that our next job was put on hold. I was able to cook and eat a nice dinner, and now, if God is good, I'll go to bed and wake up on my own, when I damn well feel like it, and that's something.
You know the funny part? I haven't drank a non-diet coke in forever. I drank on of the ones that the engineer gave me. I got a sugar high.

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