Saturday, April 17, 2010

In which our hero ponders the infinite...

Gary Busey once said "Preparing for the inevitable helps prepare for the evitable."

I love Gary Busey. I'm glad that there is 3,000 miles between us; mention his name, and, of the people who know of him, you will see a large percentage just start giggline, waiting for what you'll say next.

It's that kind of day. I've been able to stand down, do paperwork, and bake some eye-talian bread in the meanwhile. There is nothing better aboard a floating oil can than being able to be caught up with the distractions and the paper tornado that tends to pile up when cargo orders finally stop piling up.

By far the most pleasant surprise these past four weeks has been the impromptu stand-down time that we've had these past few days. After setting a record for the busiest tour in living memory during the first half of this voyage, we proceed into a doldrum, a time where I think our regular clientele, the cargo liners and bulkers on voyage charter, are all mid-voyage, and the next job for us has loomed just over the horizon, always at least 24 hours away.
Now, on day 3 here at the dock, we're making ready for our next cargo: a double load that will test a little bit of my mad phat math skills. If the next two grades of heavy fuel oil are the same as the last products we've received from these two refiners, I'll be able to stuff my barge full of oil and diesel, loaded to her marks and with the tanks at about 94% full, spreading millions of dollars worth of joy and sulfur fumes to all the good people for the next few days. After that, there's only enough time for one more job, maybe, before it's time for yours truly to head for home.
In the meanwhile, I have to do an evaluation for an up-and-coming trainee who wants to join us here on the floating asylum that I call my workplace. Should be interesting. High up on the laundry list of reasons why I'm going to miss my current tankerman, Scotty Doesn't Know, is my bigoted ageism... the fact that we're both in our mid 30's, and neither of us wants to lose everything and end up in jail if there's a spill, all for the sake of saving 30 seconds on deck and not lashing a valve, or placing a hand on a pipe to see if it's warming as cargo flows.

Wow, I'm getting old, I guess. I was just about to write "These young kids today..."

But these young kids today, they don't realize that one cut corner can make the difference between a job that is done safely, or, even when an act of God occurs, turn a shameful oil spill into a felonious shameful oil spill. Unfortunately, it's hard to believe that I'm not exaggerating when I say that the punishment for being responsible for an oil spill can be more harsh that that of mowing down a pedestrian while driving drunk.
I was 8-feet-12 and bulletproof, too, when I was 25. I'm just not 25 anymore.
Ugh, I'm just feeling sorry for myself. Visions of lying sleepless in my bunk, listening for the succession of whirrs, thumps and whines that sound like oil moving safely. Until I know that I can sleep soundly, when my new mate will be able to stand a safe watch and we've established trust and proof of competency on his part, restful sleep will be fleeting.

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