Living the nightmare.

 Once you’ve lived the dream of working in Antarctica, what’s left?

The answer is: “Just another job.”

I’ve always liked the quote: “We have too many people who live without working, and we have altogether too many who work without living.” Dean Charles R. Brown said that, about a hundred years ago.
I remember sitting in a café in Paraguay drinking terere and watching the young boys outside with their horse and cart sifting through the curb side rubbish and writing that I was craving work and routine after nearly 10 months of no real work. I should say, though, that I hadn’t just been sitting around playing my dreadlocks and being a hippy—I gained my Dive Master qualification and studied Spanish; travelled around Thailand with friends in our rented 4×4 navigating mountain paths, hired scooters in the north east of Malaysia, snowboarded in Argentina, and caught a ride on a cargo boat in Paraguay and camped out with the carnival folk in Concepcion to name a few; and “worked” full-time looking for employment in the Antarctic.

Now my life is a polar opposite (no pun intended). I’ve worked the past fifty days on the cruise ship without a day off, and every day I’ve worked over ten hours. Only a couple of times I’ve worked the more customary eight-hour day.

I don’t mind working long hours, but I’d prefer to be enjoying the long hours I work, which is not easy to manage in my current setting. This is no surprise when with fifteen people (as we have in the dining room team) working together for every waking moment, 10–12 hours a day without days off, working in tense & high-paced environment while suffering from lack of sleep… The job is not always going to be an enjoyable one. Because we’re together every waking hour, as well as getting everyone’s good moods we also get to experience and share the bad moods. I know I’ve had my days, and that’s only natural.

Don’t get me wrong— I enjoy the work itself, being an assistant waiter, and interacting with and serving the passengers. But it is the disrespect, the bad work environment, the more work/ less sleep lifestyle, the lack of any down- time, poor pay, being a foreigner on the ship, and the generally unhealthy lifestyle that I don’t like— that is, it’s the system, not so much the people. So for these reasons, I have handed in my letter of resignation; this is my final cruise. I have lived the dream, I can tick the box. I don’t want my dream to turn into a nightmare, and end up remembering it for the wrong reasons.