Thursday, February 4, 2010

Got a call from an old friend...we used to be real close

It's important to keep moving. Even though living at the group home has given me some perspective it has also led to some bad habits, such as blogging in a stream of consciousness, unpublishable, rambling, hateful manner. I apologize. I don't apologize for the excessive drinking, but I'd classify that as a bad habit.

It's a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll. That's what AC/DC says. And it's hard to know where you are in the climb. So you just keep climbing. Bruce Springsteen keeps playing because he believes his best work is ahead of him. That's what I have to believe. The best work, the best years, the best ideas are somewhere down the road. I'd even settle for good work. I've had a few jobs and at some point it feels like, no, that was it, that was as good as it's gonna get.

As a deckhand the major test was lassoing a davit on the deck with a 3.5 inch line...while the boat was moving. That's a big line. I guess it's the same size, maybe a little bigger, than a gasoline hose. It's big. I could barely get my hands around it and then as we bumped up against the dock I would toss the line OVER the bulwark aiming for the davit. IF we were close and moving slow I could just drop it on, but sometimes the boat moved and I had to throw it. And...as soon as the line hooked the davit I had to lash it around a davit on the supply vessel...and this had to be done in no longer than 5 seconds because if I lassoed the dock and then we bounced off the deck and I didn't get the line around the davit on the ship in time then we would just drift away because the captain could only do so much to get us close without destroying the dock. But the worst was if I just managed to get the davit on the ship lashed and it tightened with me nearby because those 4 inch lines stretched almost half of their length and became as small as a garden hose with the potential force, so I was told, to cut me in half.
So one morning after perhaps 30 hours of shoveling concrete dust and navigating and cooking and washing dishes and cleaning the heads I was on the deck, no shirt, fingers bleeding, the sun just coming and I picked up that line and lassoed the dock at like 20 feet. I mean, I heaved the line high and long and it flipped perfectly and fell over the davit. I lashed the boat on and then ran to get the bow line. (you do the stern first as we had bow thrusters)
The captain got on the intercom and said, "nice shot, Snap." they call all deckhands "Snap" because, "When they food, the deckhan' be on the plate like snap. when they work, the deckhan' be gone like snap." said the bearded Chief Engineer from Florida with a snap of his fingers.
That was as good as it got...
And it's impossible to know if I was right because I left. The tree planting job, for instance. That peaked out at the very end but I don't think I'd do that again. This esoteric approach to work does cause problems with employ-ability and job skills. I never did master the art of being a deck hand. I just got to the point where I knew what to expect, routinely, and was able to get some work done. Basic training lasts 6 weeks. I was basically in basic training for 6 months with a new drill sergeant every two weeks. I suppose it would've gotten easier or else I would've moved up in job titles. Maybe I'm afraid of that, of getting sucked into climbing a ladder. I like starting out on the first few rungs and that gives me enough exposure to the rest of the ladder to know the captain earned that job with time and application. There are no short cuts to being a captain.
I've seen ads for linesman jobs. That's a respectable trade with high skills from start to finish. There is literally no dimension of linesman jobs that is easy and there are unlimited applications. But you have to survive the first five years...which isn't a guarantee. Still, for a rugged man with good concentration I would recommend the linesman job. In my next life I think I will be a linesman and I will read western novellas and play the fiddle to my sweetheart.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.