Sunday, September 14, 2014

Earning my $3.25 an Hour

We were working at the bow of the ship, docked here at Port Inland, Michigan, and we needed two brooms from the very back of the ship. The two of us walk all the way down there (the better part of 500 feet) and roommate grabs two brooms.

"Let me look busy, too." I say, grabbing at one of the broom handles. He lets me carry it and says, "This job, working on deck is not very hard. Sweeping and clamping and even the mooring lines, it is all very easy" he says in his slightly patronizing 'I am explaining things' mode. "The reason they pay us all this money," (he will make around $5,000 this month, some guys will make closer to $10,000, and a few will make even more than that) "is not because the job is difficult, but because we are on ship for three months away from home, and the money is for all the things we miss."

"Shit," I say, "I don't miss shit." I don't know that this job has done wonders for my vocabulary.

"I mean things like family and good food and fun times at home." He explains as though this were the most obvious thing in the world.

"Really? The food here is fantastic," I say, though in his case he eats very little of the best stuff because of his religious vegitarianism, "and other than the scenery being better, I live just like I did at home."

And it is true. There are a few differences, which I shall endeavor to list below, but really my downtime consists of books, games, and TV shows, all of which are loaded onto my laptop and telephone. The hours are not always nine to five, but they rarely go much past eight hours, and I have only had two days in the month that went over nine and a half hours, which is bad for my overtime pay, but pretty relaxing all in all.

To set at the differences, the biggest one is food. On the whole, it is much better than what I eat at home or anything I would ever have the patience to cook myself. I have no fear that I will be unable to return to simple rice, ramen, and chips, but it really is something to be excited for mealtime not because I will no longer be hungry, but because the food itself has become a joy. The only downside is that I don't get to do the shopping, so when they run out of oranges or the better sorts of chips I just have to do without for a few days until we get more.

The next biggest is the fact that I am living with a roommate. He isn't bad, either as a person or as a roommate, but he is another person who is different from me and things that would normally be effortless must now be negotiated. Fortunately, newer ships and higher ratings will spare me from this inconvenience in due time.

After that is internet access. I don't feel the lack, but I used to spend two to three hours every day sorting through news and various educational material, and that part of the day is simply gone. It is strange that I haven't even thought about what had been a major part of every day since high school until writing it down here. Of course, I also can't stream TV or movies, so I will have to make sure to collect everything that came out during these six months when I get home and store it on a hard drive for the next ship.

The work itself is different from what I was doing previously, but that is sort of the point, and in any case I didn't sign on to be a deckhand for the rest of my life, so I should hope the job changes again soon enough.

The scenery is fantastic, both the utilitarian beauty of most of the ports (except Waukegan. I didn't post photos because that place was really dull and ugly) and the natural beauty of the sea. It certainly beats staring at a half wall above which was the poorly kept common lawn of my old apartment complex.

Also, there are no cats, which makes me sad, but my cats have passed away in any case, and the lifestyle as a whole will prevent me from keeping more. Fortunately, I have found a bit of a substitute in the digital cats that run around in The Sims, the game I mentioned in an earlier post. Not quite the same, but it is what I have.

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