I had one of those moments this morning where I stopped what I was doing and looked at the crew on deck of the ship opposite me, and said out loud (to myself) "Are these guys fucking with me?"
It was a legitimate question. We had finished transferring a small parcel of ULSFO, (ultra low sulfur heavy fuel oil, a clean burning heavy oil) to a ship with a Chinese (I think) deck gang. There was a Filipino engineer with great English, but the deck gang was... well, they sure were trying to speak to me in English, that's for sure. Points for that. But the poor guys... they weren't there yet.
And yeah, unless someone speaks to me in English or Portagee, I'm just as lost as can be. I'm not poking fun.
We finished transferring the oil and I had passed over the documents for the transfer, so I was waiting for them to sign for the fuel and start disconnecting my cargo hose.... and waiting... and waiting.
After 45 mins I called on the radio, and asked for the papers. "Yis papiz my fren', yis yis. Beedee enn. (BDN is the Bunker Delivery Note, the chain of custody document/bill of sale). I take this to mean they're still working on it or he has them ready, so I hang out on deck and wait.... and wait.
Call again on the radio, and it's the same thing.... and I get this feeling... either there's a communication gap or this guy's asking me for the papers I already gave him. So I remind him that I gave him the papers an hour ago. "Ok Ok. I send for you give me papers now."
This went on for a couple of back and forths, but the poor guys were trying like hell to work with limited English and didn't know the words to tell me that they didn't know I had already given someone the paper work.
And truth be told, I couldn't say who I gave the papers to. I won't say that all the crew looks alike, but rather that I didn't notice what any of them looked like. So I asked for the engineer.
I can understand Tagalog-flavored English. Most Filipinos speak very decent English, and even when they don't I have enough experience to parse it out and the accent doesn't interfere. So finally we figure out that somehow they lost my papers and it'll be faster for me to reprint them than to continue searching.
Thing is, younger me would have been yelling and making drama. Me of today, with a chronic shortage of shits to give, shrugged it off and we got things done in short order... and truth be told, when I was running our deck crane to retrieve the cargo hose from their ship, they were grinning about the language barrier too and waving and so I think they got the humor in all of it.