Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The first load of summer people arrived yesterday at Pole, and things immediately changed around here.  Two hours after arrival the hallways even had a different smell!  Not bad, just different. And not perfume, cologne or other chemical smells – different human smells.  I would not have thought my sense of smell would have been that sensitive, but after nine months of the station holding only 47 people, it is very clear that there are a bunch of outsiders in the station.  We winterovers are apparently a bunch of cave dwellers who have woken up to discover that 15 new people have started living in our cave.
Meeting the new arrivals and all their baggage.  Temperature warm... only -60F.
Fifteen people came in yesterday and we are expecting another 15-18 today (in about five hours), and then another group tomorrow.  After the third plane we will be outnumbered by new folks.  My replacement arrives tomorrow, at which point he will be the Safety Engineer for the station and I will just be hanging around with my hands in my pockets (yeah, right).  

2010 winter-overs waiting on the sidelines to meet the new arrivals.
After having the station to ourselves it is strange to have to navigate around all these new people in the hallways.   No one but us winter-overs who have had the empty station to ourselves for the winter would think it crowded, but these people keep getting in our way!  There can actually be five or six people in the hallway I am trying to walk down!

In their favor, they are a pretty friendly bunch, and they did bring us bananas, watermelon, apples and fresh eggs.

The next few days will be spent getting these people up to speed on what is happening around the station at the end of winter.  They need to take it very slow and easy for the first two days, or their chance of being medivaced goes up tremendously.  They flew from sea level to 11,000+ feet in four hours and are now stuck here, and that can have serious health consequences if they are not careful.  Navigating the station at altitude is hard even for us winter-overs, so just walking down a hall can be stressful for them.  How well I remember from my first week here.

After acclimation we will start the official turnover that will last about 10 days.  I will lead my replacement around the station by the hand and show him all the places he will need to work.  He has never been to Pole before so it will be all new to him.  We will avoid the six-story beercan for several days so we won’t have to activate the emergency response teams.  Do I sound like a stuck-up winter-over?  Oh yeah?  Whadda ya wanna do about it?  Just kidding, but even though it will be hard for him (I remember my first few days) - it is daylight, warm (-60), and you don’t take your life in your hands when you walk out the door these days, and we don’t think there are any undiscovered crevasses to fall into.

On the positive side of things Martin Lewis, the Area Director, hand-carried my replacement iTouch with him on the first Basler, so I now have music!  Thank you Martin!!  For those who don’t know, I washed my original one in the washing machine last June. I liked my new one so much I was tempted to roll around under the table with it.


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