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Doing time behind bars
Posted By: Brunnen-G, on host
Date: Friday, September 14, 2001, at 03:52:30

It seems rather trivial to be posting about my new job, but I have this feeling that going on with things as usual, right now, counts as some sort of moral victory.

I've been in my new job for a month now. (Summary of past events: I went from a US$35/hr job contracting to Microsoft to a US$5/hr job working on a ferry boat. On purpose. If I can stick with it for a year I'll have enough logged sea time to sit exams for a commercial captain's license and run my own charter yacht.)

To summarise my new job, it sucks severely. There's a bar and a cafe on the ferry so I'm either doing bartending or I'm selling stuff in the cafe. It's mind-numbingly boring in the cafe and it can be pretty unpleasant in the bar during the night. Both involve being on your feet, with one break if you're lucky, for an entire ten hour day.

It's shift work and I don't get weekends off, just random days in blocks of one or two wherever in the week the roster puts them. It isn't even *regular* shift work, so I've occasionally had to work three days doing a 5pm-1.30am shift, then change to a 5am-2pm shift for the next few days. This has screwed up my body to the extent that I now forget to eat anything for two days at a time, can't sleep when I have time to sleep, and stagger around semi-conscious when I need to be awake. I'm hoping I will adjust as time goes by. In the meantime, I've lost ten pounds and am trying hard to stay relatively healthy and sane.

On the positive side, it's nice to watch the sunrise on the water during the early morning shift. I like taking breaks at night up on the bridge where it's pitch dark apart from all the quiet little bleeping lights on the console, and I can watch the radar, and the stars outside the windows. The other week there were lots of dolphins.

I'm on the Waiheke Island ferry now; it's about a 35 minute trip each way. The summer ferry timetable officially starts in October, and then I might get onto the Great Barrier Island ferry; that's a long way from Auckland, a two hour trip each way. (And these are very fast boats.) You see whales on that route during the summer. (They don't run the Great Barrier ferry in winter. Even in summer they have to turn back halfway quite a lot, on account of the sea conditions.)

On the negative side: well, the worst is definitely the drunks. We had a group of drunk teenagers late at night on a weekend and they got violent and abusive towards us, other passengers etc. We had to have the police waiting at the wharf for them. I'm told that tying violent drunks to the railings is not uncommon, for their own safety and everybody else's. I'm also not looking forward to a *really* bad weather day (we haven't had one of those since I started) when you might have to deal with 500 passengers throwing up.

I hope I can stay with this job for the year I need it, but there seem to be very few people who stay for longer than a few months, apart from the captains.

I'm still involved with Coastguard although I may have to reconsider some of that involvement now that I have so few weekends available. Obviously I've had to step down from being on the night callout crew every time that comes up on my Coastguard roster. Probably I'll leave the Air Patrol soon and just stay with the boat section of Coastguard. The Air Patrol wants me to do a SAR Controller course soon, though, so I'll stay for that, and probably at least a month afterwards so it won't seem like I only stayed to do the course.

Brunnen-"why on earth am I still online, I need to get up at 4am tomorrow"G

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