The station is open. The first flight was planned for Monday, but this weekend a big storm blew in, leaving us with 300 ft visibilities until late Tuesday night. When the winds died down, it stayed warm enough for the planes, so we found ourselves inundated with 100 new people yesterday, Wednesday. The limitations for planes landing is one mile visibility and temps warmer than -50C (-58F).
For lack of a better word, its overwhelming. I've had 2.1 oranges, and I have an apple in my pocket. I also enjoyed a bowl of cereal with real milk this morning. I can't get over how many people there are here. It seems noisy and crowded. I tried to go for dinner yesterday and the line wrapped around the galley. I left and ate crackers at "my" desk, which I'm continuing to occupy only out of the niceness of the new arrivals. It has been my desk all winter, but there are about 3 other people I share it with in summer. I'll start my turnover today with Daren, who is the person I replaced last year, so it should be straightforward.
I have become the new "enforcer" in my hypertat. Last summer there were some people who had lived in the tats many times and they were the ones telling people to be quiet, not to slam the doors, etc. Now I am taking that on. I felt like I was living on a highway last night--continual traffic through the hypertat (slamming the doors, opening the room doors too fast so they make a loud noise, people talking!), and what seemed like a thousand people leaving the whole tat area. The only door into or out of any of the tats or the unheated hallway that connects them and Chades is a door placed right next to my window. People walk within about 6 inches of my window on the loud squeaky snow. This door was not in use until May or June. Had I known, I would have picked a different room.
This may sound trivial. I am trying to convey a sense of shock we feel. Everyone jokes about the summer people invading, and that is what it feels like, although they, of course, do not have any hostile intentions! Every doorway and hallway is crowded with people standing around. Someone turned the fan on while I was taking a shower this morning--we don't use the fan in the women's side of Chades because all it does is melt snow on the roof which then drips onto the toilet paper in the stall. Of course the new people don't know this and are trying to be helpful. But I can see why the outgoing winterovers have a tendency to growl.
I have turnover with my replacement today, and also turnover with the new doctor and PA to bring them up to speed on the lab equipment I've been running all winter. We also all have appointments with the psych, a kind of outbrief. For those of us who wish, we can talk to the South Pole Area Manager on any issues about the station, and also with a senior Raytheon HR rep. And we all have our performance evaluations before we leave. It seems like it will be a busy week. Yesterday we had the "awards ceremony" where we got our medal, a few hats and a t-shirt.
It was beautiful outside yesterday. Totally clear, bright blue sky, clear horizon. Today it has clouded up, although it hasn't warmed up at all. I am filled with mixed emotions--I want to leave but I want to stay. There are things about this place that I love, but there are things I hate. I can see the winterover crew tightening in on itself a bit--people I didn't talk to much all winter I now chat with, as they are familiar faces.
copyright 2001 Andrea Grant
return to journal page