The Logistics Arch

Ummm, okay. So, my friend Eden over at Fussy pointed folks over this way and suddenly my hit counter has gone through the roof. Which is a wee bit intimidating.

But hi, all! Uh, welcome. If you’re just joining us over here, you may want to pick up a bit of context over here. In short, I’m sort of statistics-software wonk who’s managed to land a “summer job” doing tech support at the South Pole. I’ve been on station for about two weeks and feel like a kid in a candy shop. On the moon.

Okay. Now, on to the post I’d been preparing before y’all showed up:

A bit of honest work 

Yeah, I know I’ve got my skills, and in my own way, I play a vital role in this station. But it’s hard not to feel like a slacker when I stroll over to the galley at lunch in my jeans and fuzzy slippers (I’ll admit it: I love my fuzzy slippers), and sit down among my chapped and frostbitten friends. They’ve been driving tractors, shoveling snow, hauling cargo out in the weather while, mostly, I only need to get up when I want more tea.

You all know me well enough to know that can’t just sit around and deal with this feeling, right? I need to feel I’m pulling my weight. So I do dishes after dinner (when the music room isn’t calling), and try to make the bucket brigade hauling boxes of freshies and mail up the DZ stairs whenever the call goes out. It helps a little. Mostly me.

This morning, though, I felt like I did a real bit of work. Haley had cornered me last night near the beer can*. If I was feeling restless, she said, she needed to do a food pull in the LoArch the next morning, and could use all the help she could get. Me? Physical labor? Heck yeah!

Why do they  call it the “Beer Can”?

So after this morning’s staff meeting, I bundled up in Big Red, my Carhartts, bunny boots, liners and mitts, and tromped down to the cavernous buried archway where an acre or so of frozen food is stacked for ready access (most of the food is out to the south of Summer Camp, stored outdoors in the evocatively-named “Cargo Berms” – I’ll save a field trip out there for a later post). Joined Haley, Rachael and Michelle for an hour or so of looking up stock numbers, climbing ladders, hauling down 20 pound boxes of coconut flake, chocolate chips, ramen, butter and “Guppies” (off-brand Goldfish crackers).

I’m sure it would get old doing this all day, every day, but the chance to exert myself – even just a little – was exhilarating. Stomping around the metal grating of the arch, eyelashes freezing together in the -50C air (yes, it’s colder underground than on the surface – the famed “ice tunnel” holds a pretty constant -85C year round). Anyhow, it took us only an hour to get through the three pages of Mapcon printouts and fetch Haley most of the goods she’d been tasked to bring up to the galley for next week’s T-day dinner. But I’ll be back, if my supervisor lets me take the time, for the next pull.

* The uh, beer can-like stairwell at grid east end of the station, which goes three or four stories down, past the surface and under the ice to the tunnels that lead to the powerplant, logistics arch and vehicle maintenance facility.

[And yes – from the outside it is pretty obvious why they call it the “Beer Can”. I’ve been told of plans to surreptitiously drape it in a “Budweiser” logo.  When Prince Albert of Monaco visited the station last year, one of my co-workers tried to get photos of him on the stairway, just so as to have a picture of “Prince Albert in a Can“.  I guess you had to be there…]

[For some visual context, here’s some video of a tour Daniel gave me and Kyle our first week on station: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUu_CcD2sLA ]

2 responses to “Yow!

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