Whether you work as a bailiff, a bartender or a bank teller I’m convinced there’s at least one person you work with who seriously gets on your nerves. He or she could be a door slammer, a pen clicker, a hummer, a whistler, someone that talks to themselves, has a violent case of restless leg, terrible breath or an irritating high-pitched laugh. Whatever it is they do, they should stop because it’s getting under your skin and driving you up the wall and getting in the way of you doing your duties..
Good thing then that come 5 o’clock after a day painfully rife with fidgeting, stapler stealing and lunch time soup slurping you can hop in your car, listen to some loud music (with plenty of shouting and screaming guitars) and the further you drive away from your workplace the more you can feel yourself start to relax.
Having returned to the plushy comfort of your own home you’ll crack open a cold beer from your own fridge (which no-one could have taken as it’s allll yours), cuddle the dog and forget all about how Mark likes to talks with his mouth full and sticks his dirty fingers in the Nutella jar. Yuk.
On boats though it doesn’t quite work like that. Apart from having to deal with Mark in the workplace he also chomps his dinner at the same table, brings you his smelly washing, snores in the cabin opposite yours and is seated right next to you in the bar on a crew night out so he can make you suffer a little more by explaining to you in detail how he would have parked the boat this morning.
Basically there’s zero escape as it’s only your 2 x 1.5 cabin which you share with Sarah, who never seems to be able to climb unto her top bunk without planting one of her feet on your leg or worse right in your face, which offers little respite. Living the dream..
I once worked on a yacht where I got teamed up with the Captain to stand the 4-8am watch. Not my favourite shift but even less so as the Captain would speak slowly and incessantly about the sort of stuff so dull I’m surprised I didn’t launch myself into the middle of the Atlantic just to stop hearing this guy waffle on about his wife’s gardening plans, the dream he had last night and how he could have been a model.. It’s 4 am! You’re not supposed to speak, at all! You’re meant to make each other tea and stare into the darkness, silently. The only words permitted is watch specific type speak such as: “Shall I do the log?” everything else on the 4-8 watch should be restricted to hmm’s and mmm’s only.
I’ve always thought that watch teams should be paired according to which of the following groups you belong to silent/ ok/ too much/ duct tape.
I’d really like to say I don’t posses any irritating on board habits but then I’d be lying like a cobbler. I like to sing loudly while ironing (well, doesn’t everyone?) Sometimes I forget there are tired crew only a feet or so away trying to get some shut-eye and not waiting for my top volume rendition of 90’s classic Sweet Chiiiiild of mine. And no, I’m definitely not ‘The Voice’ sort of material.. Also I keep a selection of different kind of exceptionally crunchy sweets within reach from my bunk. The nocturnal chewing and chomping has pissed of many a poor stew trying to get a decent rest before a 5 o’clock start. I know. My bad. And girls, I’m sorry.
I’m sure we all agree that boats are not for everyone and it takes a certain type of person to be able to hack living in close quarters with a bunch of strong charactered people you didn’t pick and I reckon even those saintly cool-as-a-cucumber seafarers who manage to shrug it all off must have a stress ball or two rolling around in their cabin somewhere.
Credit: Barry Langdon – Lassagne
So I’ll leave you with a word of advice from someone who has been known to stick passive aggressive post it notes on the crew mess fridge…..
Keep calm, count to ten, have a moan to your mate, just bear in mind that by the end of the season you’ll have totally forgotten what it was you got so worked up about and you never know, you might have to deal with someone even worse on your next boat..
Written by Danielle Berclouw