It’s Sunday here. Sundays here mean brunch. Brunch. In Antarctica. It’s quite the event. All week people have been telling me not to miss brunch. “Oh it’s your first week?? DON’T miss brunch!”
This morning I had pancakes with strawberries (frozen, appropriately), waffles, frittata and some sort of fruit tart. There was a massive cheese and meat plate. Omelets made to order. On Sundays, alcohol is allowed in the galley. There were a few folks having beers with breakfast. Excuse me, with brunch. I stuck with coffee. I definitely overheard discussions about post-brunch Bloody Mary get-togethers in various dorm rooms. I wish I could say it was reminiscent of college, but the reality is there was no brunch in college. And certainly no Bloody Mary get-togethers. There may have been a few Natty Lights for breakfast, but that’s not quite the same.
Here’s the peculiar part: well, other than having Sunday brunch in Antarctica: people were bitching. Bitching about what was on offer for Sunday brunch. In Antarctica. “Oh just wait, brunch in winter is so much better.”
“Brunch last year was WAY better.”
Seriously?? Maybe it’s just that I’ve got newbie syndrome and am still in that appreciative phase, but god damn. Give it a few months and maybe I’ll be old salty bitching about brunch. I helped guide a trip up Rainier with JoeBonnstein and one of his friends, who had previously been a professional guide. As such, we had access to the guide tents. Which meant that we made breakfast burritos one morning. At 10,000ft on Mt Rainier. Minds exploded. I guess I thought it would be more like that here.
It feels a lot like when I started working EMS. The last job I had in the U.S. before that had been as a telemarketer. In retrospect, the level of bitching was fairly low, given that we were telemarketers (for business, so, no, I didn’t call you at home. Save your rebuke for another day.) I thought to myself, we’re going to be dealing with some heavy duty shit now. I imagine the level of petty bitching is going to be pretty small.
How wrong I was. Rampant petty bitching. There was also rampant, very appropriate bitching (under staffed, crappy equipment, shockingly low pay for what we did, turf wars with fire departments etc). The most miniscule inconvenience would set some people off like someone had just kicked their puppy. Burn out. It made me realize that the job I was doing, which I absolutely loved, was not a life long career. We ran 911 calls, ran red lights, pulled people out of dire straights off Mt Hood. It kicked ass. But the pissing and moaning from some of the old salties, the “lifers” was pretty disheartening.
It’s a bizarre dichotomy: here we are in the harshest continent in the world, isolated (relatively. Obviously not complete isolation or how would you be reading this???), cold. 6 day work weeks. Dorm living. But, brunch is not up to par. Time to suck it up, buttercup.
Now, it’s not all doom and gloom. Far from it. I’ve met some amazingly interesting people. It’s not often that one finds oneself in a room of people who have all visited all 7 continents. The stories I’ve heard since I’ve been here have been pretty wild. Bob, the dentist who was here all summer, entertained me one lunch with travel stories. The most memorable was definitely stumbling into a gig as a “Western” dentist in St Petersburg. In order to convince his wife that they should stay the entire year, she required a bribe. 22,000$. I gave him a skeptical glance on hearing such a seemingly random number. He had clearly seen it before, this was a well-rehearsed moment in a favorite story. She wanted a new kitchen when they got back Stateside. He gave her a grand on the spot (cash was kept on hand. It’s Russia.). She quit bitching.
Although she did get the kitchen as well when they got home.
I’m looking forward to the winter. This should be an interesting group of characters. I guess I must be one of them if I’m looking forward to winter. In Antarctica.