We resume the story as I report for work on the Ocean Phoenix and wait to hear whether I passed the pee test.
On the second evening, just as I was starting to think I had passed, the medic sought me out and said I needed to redo my test. Arrrgggh! Nothing to do but get it over with.
As he drove me downtown to some lab I asked why I had to redo the test. He said it was because the first one had been too diluted. Hardly surprising. I would have been surprised if it showed up as anything but H2O.
This seemed like the end, but I went through the motions anyway. When I think about it now, it seems crazy – I was so anxious about losing the opportunity to spend another hellish couple of months at sea. But, at the time, it was income, it was a plan, it was one more step towards the future, so I wanted it. And I really didn’t want to be sent home to twiddle my thumbs and spend my scant savings until I could find another opportunity.
They kept me on. I have always wondered what happened with that second test. I don’t think I could possibly have passed it, so soon after indulging, but the medic took me back to the boat and I never heard any more about it.
My theory was that the chatty medic drove me to the second test so he could suss me out a bit. I always wondered if I actually failed the test, but managed to impress the medic enough with a general air of competence that he decided I was a good risk. I’ll never know, but in any case, that night we pulled anchor and left Seattle for the North Pacific Pollock season.
Of the boats I worked on, this was the most enjoyable, if it’s possible to enjoy dealing with all things fish for the better part of the day. But, really, this job wasn’t bad. The boat was huge – 680 feet. Here’s a site with some pictures and information – apparently it’s still a working boat.
I worked this boat during “B” season, which meant we did 12-hour days – 12-on/12-off. This made for a tolerable workday. You could go put in your shift, which included 2 short breaks and lunch, then go take a shower and have time to read, play cribbage, or watch a movie, then sleep a 6 to 8 hours before getting up and going back to work. With no commute and no need to cook or clean, the schedule was manageable. Also, the food was really good.
The ‘real’ crew – the captain and mates and deckhands, lived in the original berths on the ship, but the processors lived in what they called the “living module” which was a block of dorm-style rooms that had been plunked down on the aft deck. You can kind of see it in some of the pictures in the site linked above.
And, because this boat was so darned big, there was room for some luxuries. Also, I think they had been built into it when it was some kind of commercial passenger boat, and had just never been removed. We had a library and two movie rooms (one of which was known as the Pussycat Theater) and a card room (or that might have been the same as the library. There was a lot more card playing that reading going on.
Stayed tuned to learn all about Krab. Yes, that’s Krab, with a “K.”