Saturday, October 30, 2010

Big red bar

When my orders include fueling a cruise ship, the entry always comes up in a big glaring red bar on the xml spreadsheet. I wonder why cruise ships get a big red dingus, and others get bupkis?

The ship we're bunkering tomorrow is one of our regular customers. We bunker her a half-dozen times a year. One of the chief engineers there doesn't like me. Luckily, I won't be doing the discharge tomorrow morning. I'll (hopefully) be asleep.

The engineer in question is an Italian fella with decent English, and I made a terrible mistake one time when he was having a temper tantrum.

Cruise ships have bunkering ports- large watertight hatches in the side of the hull that swing back to allow the crew to muscle fuel hoses to the manifold connections inside the room. The ship in question has a bunker room that is particularly low in the ship- lower than my barges' deck, anyhow. As a professional courtesy for cruise ships, before I swing the heavy fuel oil hose to the guy, I heave a 15' section of hose in the air with my crane, and open the end of the hose over a tank hatch, to drain down any residual oil in the hose.

So, the second time I ever bunkered this ship, I knew that I couldn't heave enough hose in the air to drain down everything in the line. The 15' I could do wouldn't be enough. Gravity will cause a siphon effect, putting more residue in the 85' of hose on deck out to the end of the hose. So, being a polite person in general, I told the QMED's (engineer's assistants) to make sure they had plenty of containment, as I couldn't drain everything, and there would be about 40 liters (10 gallons) of oil coming out of the hose when they opened it. The QMED's told the engineer, who said something to me in Italian. I'm sure I looked like a dog cocking its' head at the sound of a strange noise. I repeated my warning about needing containment when the men put a 5-gallon bucket under the hose.
Well, the bucket wasn't enough, obviously. The men got their containment trough good and oily. The engineer let loose a torrent of Italian at me, hands waving the whole while, and then I heard the one Italian phrase that I do know. "F your mother."
Dumbass that I am, I went nuclear. What I wanted to say was "no need to be crude, Chief, we're all on the same side here." What came out was "No need for that Chief. Your mother's enough for me."
Well, he understood. He turned the color of an eggplant but he shut up. I had a nice big wheel wrench in my hand- a 3-foot long 20-lb blunt object. I wasn't ready to do murder, but I was ready to pack up shop and make the guy bend over and kiss my ass before we fueled his ship.

I had to be the bigger man. Once we calmed down, and the guys got the hose hooked up and the oil mopped up, I didn't mention anything. At the end of the job, the chief told me that the next time he got oil in his containment trough, he'd give me a Letter Of Protest (a letter to be avoided, used to limit liability or to notify that someone's going to be fighting over a money issue). Rather than call BS on the guy, I just said. "Give me one now, Chief. No problem."
Anyhow, I never did get that letter. And I haven't the 3 other times I've worked with that engineer since.

1 comment:

TheLordThyGod said...

That sonuvabitch. Tell him to shove that letter up his Stern Tube and suck your coxswain. (I had to wiki those terms)

Nobody does that to someone who comments on my blog and gets away with it!