Saturday, March 10, 2012

Dissention in the ranks

The boat is a clearinghouse for the imbalanced and perpetually frustrated.  All who find themselves here have a story to tell.  The commonality between and amongst crew members is often merely the fact that we find ourselves on a boat in the Bering Sea.  This isn't to say that the crew aren't good guys and girls to be around.  They are.  And quite interesting too.  But when certain things that make you go 'hmm' occur, you have to take a step back and think about where you are.

Bloomfield used to say, "If you're so friggin good, then what are you doing at Cosumnes River College?"  Why indeed.  And if you have it so good in the real word, then what are you doing on a processing boat in the Bering Sea?   Which brings me to my next point.  Someone tried to flex on Mamadou in the factory.

If you'll recall, Mamadou is our Mandingo foreman.  And he looks the part.  Six four and about three bills.  For sure he's 'swinging'.  Long story short, he had a guy cleaning a part of the factory and the guy got tired of it.  Veins popped out of necks and guys started spiking their ear muffs and yelling that they quit.  Mamadou bent down to pick something up and little man seriuosly, no lie, walked up to his back with his fists balled up and bumped him like he was gonna do something.  Mamadou stood to his full height which appeared around 7 foot six at this point and everyone thought for sure it was going down.  One of the guys tried to break it up and Mamadou got him out of the way so he could hear what the worker had to say. 

Nothing ended up happening.  Other than the stuff I said.  I wasn't even there until it was over, but I heard it the same way from about three people.  They all said Mamadou has the patience of a saint.  I believe it.  The guy who was frustrated is a cool guy and apparently he just quit for the day-and somehow has his job back.  Apparently, having a warm body to process fish is more important than appearances.

Whenever stuff got tough on the baseball field and people would start growing balls on eachother, Bloomfield would call it.  "Uh oh.  We've got dissention in the ranks."  And he'd laugh.  Then make us run for being mentally weak.  He'd say, "They're turning on eachother.  As soon as the ship starts taking on water, it's every man for himself."  And there were many variations on the theme.  But here we are.  His observations seem apt.  Things get tough.  People get edgy.  Stuff hits the fan.  Mental midgets. 

If you're on a boat that was openly described as being the most miserable existence to this point conceived by the recruiters, you can't fold when things get tedious.  I'm not singling out the guy who got into it today, but observing generally.  The trip is gonna suck.  Get over it and take your medicine.  It's time to pay the piper for whatever it was you were doing that led you to this point.  You're getting better or worse every day.  There is no staying the same. 

There is-and not for the first time-dissention in the ranks.  People are turning on eachother.  The mentally weak are crawling into their mental fox holes.  They devise methods of defense that usually revolve around outward bitterness.  The gossip of the boat convinces these groups that someone is worse off, or that someone is a bigger screwup.  While this is undoubtedly true, it's a fox hole nonetheless.  The vulnerable cover their ears and open their mouths in a panic, like one trapped in a cave.  They scream for help, but reject the helping call that comes back.  Because they aren't listening.  There is peace to be had.  Any time.  Any place.  We have had our example live and breath as others told the tale.  Even in chains, John was overjoyed.  And I am full.  Even on the Katie Ann.

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