Learn Your Shit

I would like to say this hitch was a success but there are quite a few things that need tuning. When I decided to say yes to staying extra and filling in for another chief mate in February, the offgoing mate left me a turnover letter that ended with “Learn your shit, or they’ll eat you alive”. File that away with best advice I’ve ever received. There is so much time to walk yourself around the boat and memorize it, but sometimes when the work is slow it gets easy to sequester yourself in the wheelhouse and just do the basics. It also makes it a bit more difficult when you’re still greeted with some degree of skepticism when you walk onto a new boat. Ouch. But no one knew everything on their first day; the only thing you can do is smile, just smile at ’em, and learn everything, absolutely everything about your job and become excellent at it. Then no one can say anything re what they think you do or do not know.

So I know what I’m up against and I know what I need to do when I go back to Valdez. Other than that the last month was amazing. My roommate – my 2nd mate – was also a woman and her company was nothing short of a treat. It’s nice to be able to talk to someone at work about things that might make a man run from the room with his fingers in his ears. The learning curve was steep and the boat was a very special one. Winter is almost over; the air was starting to smell like spring as I boarded the Q200 from Valdez to Anchorage last Thursday morning. I was annoyed that for some reason I had gotten a later flight from Anchorage to Seattle, but it turned out to be perfect that I did because as I was walking through Ted Stevens airport, someone called my name and I turned around to see my favorite person from the PMI years sitting there finishing up breakfast at a table in the cafe. We walked the length of the building several times, but it didn’t yield enough hours to tell all that’s happened since the last time we saw each other. It’s for good reason I recognized at once, as we sat around a table for our little workboat academy orientation years ago, that he was on my level.

Day after day at work this hitch I thought of stories I should share but it was enough to keep my head above water without talking about it. Next month it will get easier, I have a good feeling.

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