Saturday, October 4, 2014

Doing Layups in Toledo

The stern thruster is all busted, so we have been at the Toledo drydock getting it all fixed up. Rumor is that we may leave as soon as tomorrow, but that has been floating around since the first day, so who knows? Answer: The captain and chief engineer, and probably a number of people, but not me.

On the first day, I get up at 6:20 and start my galley work, only to be pulled off right as I go into my break time as the chief tells me that I am an engine dayworker for today only. I go down into the engine room, which is unsettlingly cool and quiet, and spend the day pulling the acculumlated muck out of the now cooled engine. An up close and personal education into exactly how the engine works. There was so much carbon that it, in solid form, soaked through the overalls I was wearing onto the jeans I wore under them and through them onto my knees, which are still black a few days later.

After that, I decided to go exploring. Since we are docked for a few days at least, the captain put out the word that anyone can leave whenever, as long as they show up for work the next day. Off in the distance, I can see downtown Toledo, so I make that my target for the evening. Walking down the gangway, I walk past the 2AE and Chief, who ask me casually where I am going. "I want to see Toledo". "There isn't much to see" they respond, and boy were they right. I made it downtown and across a little bridge, but aside from some remarkably varied and now underutilized archetecture, this place is pretty much a shithole. Walking back, I realize that we are situated right next to a Nabisco factory, so I walk up to the gate guard and ask if I could go in to buy like oreos or something. He gives me a nasty look and tells me, straight out of a pulpy novel, to "beat it, kid". I giggle and leave with a little bounce.

Coming back into the shipyard, I see the roommate out on the bow making a phone call and wave. I enter the ship and walk towards the room, but I see that a door which never opens is open today. I takes me into the conveyor, a place which is usually mostly off limits for people that don't have business in there, so I go into to explore. Pretty soon I realize that I am down in the tunnel that runs under the cargo holds and walk the full length under the ship until I get to some stairs that look all rusted to hell heading up into a passage shrouded in darkness, so of course I go up them. The dark shroud is just a shadow obscuring a corner, and doesn't extend very far, but the stairway dumps me out into the forecastle and I think that this is a fantastic idea to jump out at roommate before he realized I am here. I creep around the stairs out onto the bow and leap over the last three steps with a great "Boo". No one is startled. The bow has emptied during my exploration. I go back to my room a little bit defeated and watch TV for the duration of the night.

The next morning I consider sleeping "in" until 7:30, figuring that they would pull me down into the engine, but I tell myself no, that the day I do that will be the day that they don't want me down there and get mad at me for not working in galley. So I get up early and set up breakfast only to discover, right as I am about to go on break, that it is time for me to go back down to the engine to clean and paint in places that are no fun at all when the engine is hot and screaming. After that is dinner, where I sit down only to have bosun burst in to tell me that I have an overtime project to do, some heavy lifting out on deck, at which point the cook comes in and tells me that he needs me in the galley for some overtime work. There is no epic staredown, because if there was cook would have won, but instead I lift a bunch of equipment for a while and get all buff and swole.

Afterwards, I spend about an hour debating whether or not to go out. Eventually I decide to go out and get some food, because today was fish for lunch and fish for dinner, and I don't like fish. I remember seeing a McDonald's on the prior day's walk, so I head out for that. The scenery is as miserable as the day before, but the fries taste just like every other McDonald's on the planet and are quite satisfying. I walk outside to discover that it has rained earlier than the internet had promised, and shows no signs of stopping either in the sky or on the internet. Two and a half miles in the rain isn't actually that bad, partly because it wasn't all that cold, but it was enough to convince me not to go out again the next day.

So for today, day three, I got confirmation that, yes, I would be working in the engine room and was not needed in galley. So I sleep in a bit, only to be awoken at 7AM by cook, who tells me that the SA never showed up for work today and he needed someone to back him up. So I do the SA's job for breakfast and lunch until he shows up at 2PM. I don't ask what the story was, but cook was pissed all morning and no less pissed after he showed up. Fortunately, he is not the sort of person to take that irritation out on anyone. Honestly, it wasn't a bad morning, if busier than normal. The previous SA was right that this job is absolutely easy money, to the extent that it has me questioning whether my goal here is to make easy money and have time the rest of the year to do my own things, or if it is to make the money while working an interesting job. Well, I don't have to think about it today, so I won't.

No adventure today, because there was no food shortage. Hamburgers for lunch, steak for dinner, baclava for dessert, and a bunch of rice krispy treats on the pastry shelf are more than enough to make me forgive cook for a day full of gross fish.

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