May 25

Of Ditches and Bitches, Of Pals and Canals

So I finally manned up this morning and joined a proper crew: the Ditch Bitches.25052011045


Our job was to clear out the canals that drain the grey water from local houses because they are totally blocked with tsunami debris.


Ow. I hurt.


My job was to shovel or otherwise haul muck that others lifted out of the canal into wheelbarrows and haul them over to the nearby refuse piles.


Mud is heavy.


Our crew chief, Mark, is a pretty hardcore worker. Within the first ten minutes, he’d got a huge gash in his arm, but when i pointed it out to him, he just said that he would let it, and I kid you not, “clot up”. Yes, while he continued to work in sewage.


As you can see from the photo, I was originally pretty kitted up. After lunch, I took off the safety glasses and the mask, as they just got in the way (and fogged up my real glasses so badly I couldn’t see).


I will probably not join that crew again, if I can avoid it. As I mentioned, Mark is pretty intense, and he expects everyone else on his crew to be similarly so. I didn’t feel like I could even stop and walk two minutes away to fill my water bottle, especially near the end of the day when he’d assigned my an extra (simultaneous) task. This was around the end of the day when my mouth was dry, I had a pounding headache, and obviously was in a state of dehydration. I was so thirsty, I was tempted to drink the canal water (bad idea).


Now Mark is a cool guy, but this is the reason that you need someone leading a team who has had some training in doing so. A trained team leader would be enforcing break times, not allowing team members to work through lunch (as one did), etc. Oh yeah, and probably notice when one of his team members was so dehydrated that he could barely walk straight.


I find it so weird that All Hands has all these rules governing our lives and behaviour (and endless meetings about those rules), but very few rules in terms of onsite safety.


But don’t get me wrong. I would not voluntarily do canal crew again (unfortunately, as the biggest crew, it’s the most likely crew one will end up on), but I actually do like Mark. He’s just one of those guys who kind of expects everyone to live up to his example.


There are a fair number of people I don’t like here (as there are in any communal living situation), and most of them are what I call the “Happy Camper” type. That means they’ve drunk the organizational kool-aid, and the organization can do no wrong in their book. They also feel the need to play the camp counsellor role and take over situations. I really hate that. They also frequently happen to be recent Business program graduates. I really hate that.


Anyway, I’m looking forward to tomorrow. We’re clearing debris from a rice field, and the team leader is a guy who I know I will feel comfortable with (meaning that I will work hard, but still do what I need to do to take care of myself).


Time to sleep!

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