Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Vignettes in Ailment

As is probably often the case, I am currently experiencing so many stories that I haven't the time to write about many. Basically, I got sick Monday afternoon, spent all day yesterday dead on my feet, and then today am dealing with the aftershocks of fatigue and soreness. The good/bad news is that one of the head chefs got sick of looking at me in the dishwashing pit and sent me to the nurse. The nurse called me a pansy and said to get back to work, even though I protested (honestly!) that I never said anything about feeling poorly to anyone, mostly out of fear that I would get kicked out of here. Turns out that the rumors were wrong, they don't kick you out of Piney Point for mild illnesses; really they just don't care as long as you keep working. I have a lingering suspicion that the chef is creating a paper trail if he decides to pursue me for malingering (I am not, but don't have any real way to prove it), but the good news is that I finally, after 28 days alone in the shittiest job in galley, got put in a better job. Still uncertain as to whether or not I have enough sympathy for working in the shit job to overcome the extent to which I am generally despised among my classmates to keep the good job for the next two days or if I will get sent back to the dish pit.

I have time, so here is another tale. Monday night, I lay in bed feeling quite ill when the smoke detector starts beeping, one beep every thirty seconds or so. A few people shout at the smoke detector, without effect, but then try to go back to sleep. And this thing is loud, like a little spike in the ear each time it goes off, and the interval is long enough that the brain can't predict, anticipate, and get ready for the sound, so each time it hits unexpectedly. So the faulty alarm is port side forward of the room, and I am starboard side aft, literally as far away from the alarm as I can be, utterly fatigued from both illness and sleep deprivation. I think, but don't say because my throat hurts too much to talk, why don't any of these guys even try to get up there and investigate it. I feel like shit and I know these guys don't feel as bad and are just laying there waiting for someone else to fix it. So eventually I shamble across the room in a bathrobe, past every single other person in that room who could have showed some fucking initiative, and try to climb up the locker under the alarm. My arms give out and slam my face into the locker, splitting my upper lip (no one noticed me fucking up, fortunately, because this is all after lights out), but then I heave myself up and onto the locker. I take a few deep breaths to recover from what has become an exertion in my exhausted state and look up at the smoke detector. As I watch it, it beeps back at me. I unscrew it from the mounting thinking to take out the battery just to shut it up and deal with the consequences later, but it is plugged in and the wiring is hard sealed into both the ceiling and the detector unit. I look around for buttons, but there is only one button that says "Push and hold to test, push to silence". I push it, to no effect. I push and hold and everyone swears at me until I push it again, to no effect. I push it again, just in case, and it continues beeping. I search again for buttons or switches of any sort, to no avail. I check the wires again to see if any might come out, but they clearly will not come out without damaging the unit. So I climb down from the locker, lick blood off of my upper lip, and settle in for a fitful night of inconstent sleep.

The maintenance people fixed it in the morning.

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