Terry Trimingham - March 5, 1995
Hello. Today it is very overcast and there is a light snow drifting down. The wind has had periods of gusting and then calm. I just finished my first week at the new job. It isn't that bad!
I have fallen into a basic routine. Every morning I rise at 6:00 to get ready. Usually by 6:20 to 6:30 I make it down to the radio room where I worked all summer. I sit at the computer there to check my email or write letters. About 7:00 I go to the galley for a little breakfast. Usually I take too much food and don't have time to eat it all. I take it with me to work (which starts at 7:30), and finish it on my 10:00 break.
My job is basically being a janitor. I keep things tidy and take the coveralls that are worn by the mechanics to the laundry when needed. I wear a pair of coveralls myself, and feel a bit like Rosie the Riveter! I have to make sure that there are plenty of empty barrels for the guys to pour used oil, fuel, and glycol into as they work on the vehicles. When the barrels get filled, I have to mark them as hazardous, write paperwork on them, and then put them on pallets for pick up. I also have to make sure that the big tanks with fresh oil and glycol are kept full. After that I have to make sure that the trash is separated properly. Most of what we generate in the shop is considered "hazardous waste" as there are dangerous residues inside the containers. So, I have to have a separate barrel for plastic product containers, metal product containers, aerosols, absorbent for spills, and dirty rags. There are also non-hazardous categories that have to be separated out too: cardboard, burnables, plastics, heavy metal, aluminum, light metal, construction debris, glass and food waste. There are 3-4 stations in the shop where all that kind of waste is generated.
The shop is HUGE! I don't know how high the ceilings are, but it is high enough to run a large bulldozer or fire truck in there and still have lots of room to use a crane to pull the engine out. There are nine "bays" where large doors open to the outside and vehicles are brought in. In addition, we have a rebuild room, a machine shop, a fuel injection room, tool room, parts room, several offices, break room, boiler room, flammables room, battery room and weld shop! I think about 20 people work in there!
After I make sure all of the trash is taken care of, then I look around for stuff to do. Most of the corners of the shop have gone neglected for a long time. There are buckets of dusty bolts, other stuff and dirt laying around that I am slowly cleaning up. I do a lot of sweeping too, as the floor constantly has oil spills on it, and the mechanics throw this absorbent stuff on it and then that has to be swept up. While it is on the ground folks walk through it, and it gets tracked everywhere. I like going around to each mechanic and poking my nose in his vehicle and asking what he is doing. I got to learn how to drive a little bulldozer when someone was taking one out for a test drive (it was missing the blade though). I also got to ride in one of the firetrucks on another occasion.
The hard part of my job is that the barrels I have to move are very heavy, especially the ones with the heavy metal waste in them. Most of the guys are very good about helping me with them though. I have learned to use the overhead crane, a pallet jack, and dolly. Also I work with a hammer and crow bar (to get the lids off of 55 gallon drums) and socket wrenches so it is fun for me to use tools!
I finally finished moving, and on Saturday night I felt like I had a nice new home. I still have to go back to the other dorm and clean up my old room, but it sure is nice to have all the boxes unpacked and I feel comfortable in my new space. My new room has a southern view, and when it is clear I can see the Royal Society Mountains on the continent. (My old room just had a view of the building next door). I can also see the ice pier and some of McMurdo Sound. There is no open water at all. The little that had been broken out is now frozen again, but I don't know how thick the ice is.
When I finally finished setting everything up, I didn't want to go anywhere or do anything except hang out in my room! Saturday they had a meeting for everyone in town. There are 244 of us, and we were told the ratio is three men to every one woman (not bad!). The meeting was at 10am, and we were introduced to all of the honchos, told all of the rules, told about all of the things we could look forward to, and then given the rest of the day off! I still had a bit of a cold. I have been blowing my nose and coughing all week (sounding really terrible). Every night after working hard all day I had moved stuff from the old dorm to the new one, and on Friday night we had NO wind, so I joined 4 others and we skied for about 3 hours (it had been cold too, I had frosty eyelashes and rosy cheeks!). After the meeting on Saturday I ate lunch and then went home and took a four hour nap!!! I guess I needed to!
That evening we had a big "beginning of winter" party. It was nice, for a change, to go to a party here where the crowd wasn't so huge (like during the Austral summer). It seems like I don't know most of the people I see, so there is a lot to get to know. Now it is Sunday evening and I can't say I did a whole lot today. I took a nap, watched a movie, did a short walk to Hut Point, and that is about it except for eating meals! It is nice to kind of do nothing for a change! The weather is COLD, averaging 0 degrees F, and the wind is blowing a lot, making it much colder when you consider wind chill. We have had mostly overcast skies too, and some light snow on and off.
Copyright (c)1995 Terry Trimingham. This information may be redistributed online for education projects as long as this copyright notice is included. Permission to use this material in print or for commercial purposes must be obtained in writing prior to use from the author.
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