Thursday, September 26, 2019

stencil day

For some reason, my newish tankerman mate here on the HQ decided to go nuts with a white paint pen out on deck and mark off the pipelines, ullage ports and hatches.  He never thought to break out a stencil kit, as is actually required, and  for a bit there, the HQ looked like a goddamned train station in a bad neighborhood. I've since unfucked the HQ and repainted this week.

 I like this guy a lot. He's an interesting dude, from Argentina originally, who grew up in Miami, but is now a Texan. Thing is, he's not a sailor qua sailor as I think of it.  By that I mean he's never been to sea, but rather spent a few years on deck on the Mississippi, building tow and not standing watches,  a job I know only a little about, save that it's brutal on the back. Somewhere along the way he acquired a Tankerman PIC certificate and went to a tug and barge company that is famous for being a repository for criminals and the lowest of the low, and where working safe gets one fired. Sadly, given that he has an accent and came into the tankerman's position without the seamanship skills that you find in an Able-Bodied seaman, that company chose not to train him, and instead used him for scut work and heavy lifting. As such, the few habits he had, were mostly bad. He was smart enough to change jobs, and landed with us. We've been training him in the ancient art of being honest while appearing to be shifty ever since.

   The HQ doesn't need AB's, and while I have trained my share, the HQ is not a suitable place to teach and AB. Given that I stay in my job because I get to stay the hell away from people in the first place, that's not good either.  As such, we've ended up with a tankerman who doesn't know shit about seamanship and has no experience as a sailor, but who is a fully qualified tankerman by legal standards. The poor guy fell through the cracks, and didn't even know it.

           Legally, it's all good in the neighborhood. Socially, the guy has been shit upon from A Great Height by other guys in my company, who have been merciless in their interactions with him. We all assume that to be here, one must have a common background in a professional capacity. This isn't true, of course, but that's the state of the zeitgeist here, and people hate it when there's a nailhead standing proud.I sympathize, which is why we've kept him on. He learns very fast and unfortunately has never been in a maritime environment where people were nice to him before. I mean what the hell is that about?  Granted, I've met some assholes on boats, but overall, I like most people out here a lot more than any John Q. Dingus out on the street. I can't help but think that oceangoing mariners might be a more welcoming bunch than river rats. Maybe because the environment is so much more dangerous? I dunno.

 I'm one of the few tankermen in my company who cut his teeth on Product tankers, ships carrying multiple products, what used to be called 'floating pharmacies' at least in the textbooks. Before I had anything to do with what was in the tanks, however, I had an Able Seaman Unlimited, having spent 1080 days at sea, presumably learning something along the way. 3 damn years at sea, if you don't learn how to be at least a semi-competent sailor,there's something terribly wrong. In reality I had a couple thousand more days at sea, having grown up around fishing boats, but whatever. My point is that I already had had a sea-daddy to teach me the language and bearing needed  in basic seamanship, and how to communicate effectively, as well as Basic Seamanship. There was structure, and learning was an incremental process. I learned basic seamanship on small boats, then on ships, how to be a tankerman, and later how to be a bunker tankerman. My second man has had no such structure.
    Well, he's becoming a pretty decent tankerman. There's not much I can teach him about being an AB, beyond some of the ancillary skills. Really, the guy needs to spend some time offshore, to be immersed in the gestalt of being a mariner, rather than being a floating gas station attendant.

 I can't quite capture the right tone here. I am not complaining. I pity the guy and see some potential there. We're keeping him on here. The principal part of his job he can do fine now, especially now that he is being treated like a human being.  I still foresee him getting a fair bit of grief from others, but he's a known quantity to us on board.


Beaner49 said...

Being kind (helpful) is always my default position. If that isn't appreciated by its recipient, then there is always side B.

Rick T said...

Sounds like he has a real Sea Daddy for the first time.