Welcome to my first day…on nights! You know that sounded a lot funnier when it occurred to me. Sometimes you just have to go with whatever thought strikes you when you sit down to the keyboard.
Now then: The job remains the same. I am doing all of the same stuff I learned during day shift, but I am much more comfortable and responsive to it. My knee is still a little tender, but I am covering the ground better, and I have no fear of restraining it. My knowledge of the warehouses and the general order of things makes it easier to find items quickly and so I seem to be even more capable than I am! What do you mean your not surprised?
The late nights at this time of year are different now than when I first arrived. The sun is noticeably lower on the horizon but still a constant presence, and it’s blinding to walk directly toward it. The general temperature remains the same although the ice melting off of the glaciers slows each evening. The significant difference is the view of the mountains across the bay. It may be an optical illusion caused by low hanging clouds, but I could swear that the sun is illuminating the second range of mountains and leaving the forward range in darkness. The black on white contrast is amazing, and I hope the photo I have taken turns out well.
It is generally quieter at night as there is considerably less traffic at our window, but the needs remain the same. I spent about half of the workday moving back and forth to the outer warehouses gathering parts for the vehicles that need them. The remainder of the time was spent learning some important time saving tactics from my new coworker Devon. He likes working the night shift because of the reduced traffic, but also like me, he finds that there is a ton of work to be done that is not on the schedule. He has much more time available to focus on details when he has fewer visitors to the window. I respect that. I’ll do what I can to keep the window covered, the detail work is beyond me at this point, but I do look forward to learning it.
Devon showed me something mighty cool this evening. Elvis has a secret! There are extensions for his lift forks! This might seem odd for a small forklift to have a need for six foot long forks, but consider this; some of the items we supply are huge but not heavy. Like tires for instance, as was the case today. The tires were 66″ diameter X 44″ wide tread measure, for one of our large Delta 3 axel freight carriers. Simply Huge. Far too heavy to maneuver by hand, because the wheel was already in it, but not worth tying up a Caterpillar tractor to handle them. With the extensions, Elvis can easily carry large size or awkward shaped loads that his normal forks could not support.
He made a point of showing me how he handled it after he got back to the garage bay. Any time you are handling a tire of this size, use a pallet beneath it and strap it down. If for any reason the tire comes off of the forks, the square corners of the pallet will prevent the tire from rolling downhill. As you have seen in some of the terrain pictures, if a tire of this size did get loose and begin to roll downhill it would crush a truck, or blow right through a wall of any of our buildings. Not a pretty thought. A single tire of this size could weigh over 400 pounds. It may even be necessary to strap the tire and pallet directly to the lift mast to prevent it coming off of the lift in the first place. No, that’s not overkill when the roads are in bad shape, or the ice is so bad that control becomes an issue. Safety first always! One thing to consider about the standard operating procedures down here is that nothing writes a rule quicker than an incident report. So I believe the stories.
In fact, that tire was so huge, I asked him how he was able to see over it to drive Elvis down from the storage area. He said he didn’t. He drove Elvis backward down the hill. Now that struck me right in the respect zone. Elvis is corrugated. That means, around here, you have to steer like your backing your boat trailer down the switchbacks on a mountain bike trail. For the first time there is a challenge here that I am not looking forward to taking on.
Elvis rocks, but Devon is the king around McMurdo.
PS. This is a photo of the tire in the story. Devon is pretending to be camera shy. I’ll just have to break him down a little. Russ (in this photo) is the VMF’s mechanic’s manager. He is not camera shy and in fact posed for this shot to help you size up the tire. Note the pallet and strap beneath the tire.