Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sputum - the bane of my existence

I'll set the stage a little first: I'm working on a ship with a crew of 31, that has accommmodations for 145 people. The ship is what's called an offshore construction vessel, which means that aside from its ability to accommodate a lot of workers, it has a massive crane and lots of deck space to allow it to support offshore construction work on rigs, platforms, whatever. All very nice.

On this particular job, the ship is acting as a 'floatel', a floating hotel. We go alongside a big ol' FPSO every morning at 6 a.m., drop off 60 - 75 workers, and bring them back again later in the afternoon. Part of my job is to keep track of the comings and goings of all these people.

Once they're gone in the mornings, it's lovely here! It's like a ghost ship, and for me, there's precious little to do. On those days, though, when the seas are high and I am low, they are unable to transfer the guys over to the FPSO because it is unsafe. Once I'm better at this blogging business, I will post pix or a video clip of the device used to transfer them.

I AM getting to the point. Bear with me.

Yesterday morning, it was too rough to transfer the guys until about 10.30 a.m. By then the seas had calmed down enough to make the transfer safe. So, by the time things started getting underway to send them across, I was down on the deck, chatting with a few of them. I'm normally not around when they leave in the mornings, because they go at 6 a.m., and nothing drags me out of my bunk before 7.30.

So, I'm stood there, arm leaning on the side of the ship, beautful warm day, chatting with a couple of the fellas, more milling around nearby, when out of the corner of my eye I see this one guy in particular spitting on the deck. A minute or so later, he does it again. And again. All the while, my throat is starting to close over, and this white noise starts in my head.

Why is it that men feel this compulsion to spit?????

That's the big, broad question, of course. The smaller, yet much-more-to-the-point question is this:

Why, when standing less than 2 feet from the entire expanse of the Gulf of Mexico, do men feel the need to spit on the deck by my feet??

It is gross. Simple as that.

There are few things people do that are as patently unattractive. My sister has often said one of the worst jobs in the world must be the guy who has to clean a baseball team's dugout after a ball game. Here you have a benchful of some of the most handsome specimens of humanity, rich and athletic and just sweet, and in a fraction of a second, they can make me want to woof my cookies.

And, being here in the Deep South, don't even get me started on - ugh - chewing tobacco!!! God have mercy...

If this was something that was some kind of biological imperative, that a person HAS to do along the lines of other bodily functions, that's one thing. But women and most men seem to be able to go through life without feeling the need to expectorate great gobs of God-knows-what, wherever they happen to be standing, oblivious to the sensibilities of those in their midst.

I worked in ICU in the early part of my career. At the end of each shift, we had to empty the suction bottles at each bedside that had been used throughout the day when suctioning some poor bugger's airway who was unable clear it for himself. The suctioning itself wasn't too bad. There was a certain sense of having saved this poor sod from drowning in his own secretions that offset the icky-ness of the procedure. However, emptying that bottle, full of 12 hours worth of sputum, was probably one of the worst things I've EVER had to deal with as a nurse. We all have our Achilles heels. Sputum is mine. But I'd do it, every shift, and offer it up for the souls in Purgatory.

They tell me now that there is some debate about whether Purgatory is even recognized by the Catholic church anymore, but I've been to the camps north of Fort McMurray. Purgatory very much exists.

Anyway, the bottom line is this... if you are able to swallow and breathe unassisted, KNOCK OFF SPITTING ON MY FEET!!!


  1. Maggie I was gagging as I read this. The worst of all bodily fluids You can have crap from asshole to appetite or be swimming in pools of blood but keep your sputum discretly covered and disposed of where I won't see it or smell it

  2. I hope you were gagging at the topic!! HA!! Seriously, though, it's bad, isn`t it? And just wrong. And unnecessary!! I agree. I'd rather deal with poop up the ying-yang. Unless you're projectile vomiting, keep it in ya, dude!!!! *shudder*

  3. I totally agree with both of you!!! The worst habit ever!!!! One day walking from upgrading to the main admin building I had a higher ranking HR fella start to spit and I started to gag..... and me not able to keep quite started to tell him exactly what I thought in very direct words!!! He turned beat red but he never spit again in my company...
    Can't sign this

  4. I would have LOVED to hear what you said to him!! Good for you. It's just nasty, plain and simple.


Your comments are welcome here! Just keep 'em clean, that's all I ask. I welcome differing opinions, but it IS my blog... I'm going to have the last word!!