Antarctic Peculiarities: Rosters galore!
Although rosters are found in all manner of places, I thought the number of rosters that we’re on down here is pretty special. Each work area has an ‘on call’ roster or similar (comms included), but here are the rosters that we all need to know about every day.
The first roster that comes to mind is for Saturday duties. Most of them are cleaning, though sometimes we get a couple of hours sorting out spoiled vegetables from the industrial refrigerators or something similar. Previous posts details some of these areas, like cold porches, and My Humble Home (showing the mess, the bar, the Living Quarters, and the library). Here are a couple of previously unseen areas that are on ‘offer’ as a Saturday duty:
…and the laundry.
The next roster is for ‘slushy’. Slushy duty is the slang name for the kitchen hand. Jobs include wiping the tables after meals, mopping the floor, refilling condiments and cereal containers and, mostly, washing dishes:
As menial as it is at times, it makes a nice break from your usual work. Slushy duty keeps you busy all day, so the day goes quickly and you’re guaranteed a good night’s sleep. The two best parts of it are that a) many people help out with the after dinner duties so all of the end-of-day work is usually wrapped up in less than 15 minutes, and b) the slushy for the day gets to choose which music is heard throughout the Living Quarters (and also broadcast across the station on 103.5 Icy FM).
Next is the Emergency Response Team (ERT) roster. All of us have been trained in first aid, fire fighting, and search and rescue (SAR) at various stages. We’re on call one week out of three for the ERT. For me, that means that I am a first responder for both fire and SAR events.
For fire that means donning fire clothing and breathing apparatus (BA) immediately and attending the possible fire with a view to rescuing anyone trapped inside. Around 10 minutes later a Hagglunds will arrive and fire hoses will be set up for longer duration fire fighting.
The other part of the roster, for me, is as SAR first responder. That means in the event of a SAR alarm, my role is to kit up, grab my survival pack and jump on one of the SAR quad bikes ready to head out to the missing persons’ last known point. From there I report back what I find while others are getting ready, doing further evaluation, etc.
Now we’re slowly moving onto the less serious rosters. This one is for the hydroponics duties. The work includes harvesting whatever is ready, checking pH and nutrient levels on the water tanks, planting seedlings, and the list continues.
Aside from being the only source of fresh produce on the station, it’s also a haven of warmth, colour and humidity. Day to day we see white and blue, we feel the cold and the air is constantly dry. Some of us have humidifiers in our rooms that work hard just to maintain the room at a modest and comfortable humidity of 45%. At hydroponics the air is 26 degrees and the humidity is nearly 60%. It’s a haven from the cold and the snow for those that need to feel a slice of someplace warmer.
Next, and much less glamorous than the rest, is the bathroom cleaning roster. Everyone in the building shares a bathroom with at least one other person. How these rosters are managed is up to the groups concerned, but for us downstairs folk we are on a simple rolling roster of cleaning once a week.
As I said, it’s not glamorous, but when you’re using a communal bathroom it’s nice for it always be clean (and I clean my bathroom a lot more often than once every 5 weeks back in Australia, so it’s really not too bad!). It can be a long day if you have a busy Saturday duty AND it’s bathroom cleaning week, but it’s really a small price to pay.
The last (non trade specific) roster is for the special events. Every month we have one Saturday night formal dinner, where we all dress up in our finest threads and get table service from whoever is slushy on that day. Also every month we have one special event, where we dress up to a theme, people make themed food and decorations, etc. The most recent one was hippy night, where we all sat on mats on the floor and ate tofu burgers and had a wooden Kombi setup in the LQ.
As I mentioned earlier, these are all in addition to whatever work and on-call rosters we have in our own specific areas. It can be a little tricky to keep track of at times, but it always seems to work out and the station is always clean, friendly and inviting.
P.S. This week’s bonus photo (these are becoming regular, aren’t they?) is another HDR composite of another sunset. I know I keep taking photos of sunsets, but they’re honestly just as breath-taking every time!