Editor’s Note: This post was written under the influence of fatigue and frustration. The events that I discuss below don’t happen often, thankfully, but they sure are annoying when they do. Ok. Happy reading.
Some weeks, when I’m in my 57th hour of working and I am seriously doubting whether I will last the next three hours before I collapse, what keeps me going is the development of an argument against the 60-hour work week. It’s a thesis I have been slowly crafting for a while now. And it includes such points as: chronic fatigue, leading to repeated illnesses; chronic fatigue leading to on-the-job errors, leading to on-the-job accidents and injuries; and how about I get some time to actually live while I’m down here?.
But then, tonight, I got a solid answer for why there’s a 60-hour work week.
It came to me at 8 p.m. on a Thursday. From my neighbors in the dorm room next door. In the form of singing, yelling and other auditory assaults resulting from decreased inhibitions and loss of executive function thanks to alcohol consumption.
So, the answer is: if you give people down here more time off, they will indulge and imbibe to excess even more frequently than they already do.
Which is unfortunate for me, as their neighbor, and me, as their fellow McMurdo community member. Because some people have trouble controlling themselves from self-induced liver failure, I lose out on time I could spend hiking, skiing, SLEEPING, and otherwise resting and relaxing.
While I understand that not everyone spends their off time in the same manner, and I certainly can’t choose for another how to relax (and I wouldn’t want to), must their indulgences hinder me from doing my job, sleep enough to do my job and sleep enough so that I can actually get out and enjoy my one day off a week?
Maybe I should have seen this coming. The next couple of weeks on base are called “vessel.” This is a 10-day to two-week period where a large cargo vessel docks in town and nearly the half the base’s population works in 12-hour shifts in unload many tons of food and supplies, then loads many tons of waste (including hazardous, food, bio and recyclables) and scientific samples to be delivered to their respective academic institutions for further study.
The reason the upcoming vessel weeks have likely motivated tonight’s very loud behavior is the unwavering rule that no alcohol will be sold in bars or in the store during vessel.
Before tonight’s revels, at dinner, we heard people talking about the importance of drinking through their weekly allotment soon before alcohol is cut off next week. (Because people frequently drink to excess here, there is a limit to how much alcohol can be purchased by each person each week in the store and the bartenders know to cut people off, although I think each bartender is allowed to choose the cut-off point.)
So, hurry and drink now. Because the next two weeks without alcohol will just be unbearable.
And maybe rather quiet.
P.S. One of the Long Duration Balloons launched!! It’s been up in the air for 4 days. Follow its progress. It’s the project that looks at the gamma-rays and x-rays from solar flares.