Friday, July 15, 2011

A Grimy Day

First off, a bummer: I learned today that because of a paperwork snafu, I can't take the test on Monday. I'm so bummed! And the paperwork snafu is total bull--the Coast Guard is saying I didn't submit some paperwork, but I did and have proof, but I didn't learn about the problem until it was too late to fix. So bummed. It's setting me back at least a week. At this point, it'll be maybe mid-August before I'm solo. LAME!

So day was yet another shop day. I should explain the shop day thing. Basically, as a trainee, I had to put in 30 days of work on the ferries before I could apply for the test. Once I had my 30 days, there was no need for me to be out on the boat at all. In fact, I just get in the way. The operators don't want me there, since they won't get the extra pay for being a trainer. I'm just a third wheel. So instead of being on the boat, I've got shop days. I show up to the office at 8, and basically wait for the boss to decide what to do with me that day. Some days I'm the only one on shop, some days, like today, all three of us trainees were. Some days, I do paperwork, run errands, wander around trying to look busy, bug my old planning department coworkers. Most of the time, the boss seems to be keeping me away from the super grimy tasks, which I don't really mind that much. The other day, for instance, we were going to take the pressure washer out to the boat and spray down everything so we can eventually paint, but instead there was an urgent need to run up to Portland, and Ed sent me.

 Today, we were tasked with more pressure washing, scraping the road closed gates (we close them nightly, so cars don't drive into the river when the boat is closed), and installing a new part onto the lift gates (these are the gates on the boat that open and close to let cars on/prevent them from driving over the edge). I was basically told to scrape the gates, and the guys would do the installing. 2 hours later, I'd scraped half the gate and the guys couldn't get the gates to work. They put the old part back on and that wouldn't work. We all three ended up getting greasy and gross with marine grease, and we finally got it to at least work a bit, there are larger problems that the boss will have to have fixed. So then I was back to gate scraping. I was covered, head to toe with bits of paint. It was also hot and sunny, about 83 degrees today. I applied sunscreen at least 4 times, and I'm still burned. My right shoulder is sore from scraping the putty knife back and forth and back and forth.

In the middle of the gate, there's a point where two beams come together, and there's a bit of a gap and a protected corner. I'd heard birds tweeting all morning, and some birds (barn swallows? but I don't think they had the forked tail...not sure) were swooping around. Finally I realized that there was a bird's nest in that protected corner of the gate. I looked in, and there were the babies! This is a terrible pic, but it's the best could get. I had to put my hand and a coworker's arm on either side to block the brightness in the background.
Do you see them? I wish I'd taken a better pic, they were crying and chirping and opening their wee beaks wide, hoping for food.

And after a long day of being in the sun, scraping paint, I came home, showered, and then went and picked 5 gallons of cherries. Half went to the food bank, half for me. It's a fantastic program, called Salem Harvest. If you're local, you should sign up. The blueberries I picked last summer were beyond incredible. 

Next week, the boss is either out or working the BV all week. He's going to make a list of tasks for the three of us to accomplish, and most of them are grimy. Scrape the other gate, paint both the gates, pressure wash the rest of the boat, start painting the boat, pressure wash the deck. We're also going to be dredging soon, since there are gravel bars that build up every year, and when the water is low in the summer, we scrape bottom. I want to participate, but it also sounds like brutally long hours and hard work.

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