Tuesday, 17 September 2013

What Does 'Accounted For...' Actually Mean?

I sat back after lunch today and had a think, I have had plenty of time for that on this job but this one was a particularly deep one, far deeper than my usual 'thinks' which normally end up with trying to work out which would win in a fight between a squirrel and a wasp (my money is on the wasp, always the wasp).  It was one of those 'thinks' that happens at a specific stage in a man's life/trip as I'd just passed the 2 week mark (plus I'm nearly 40).

It occurred to me during this time that I've never been as unproductive in any 2 week period in my time offshore as I have been in this.  We have literally been outside working for just over 4 hours (may I remind you, we've been here for 2 weeks!).  In purely monetary terms we are on about the same money as a mediocre premiership footballer at the moment (and I'm gonna be on 'uplift' in a couple of days) and I don't really foresee much changing in that respect.  Every time I ask the Ops guys out here how the Shutdown is going I get a rather black look and an exasperated exhalation of breath, I would spell it, 'Huffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff'.  This is usually accompanied by a shrug so Gallic that they should be wearing a protective Hard-Beret as part of their PPE.

So it was almost a minor relief last night when the GPA went off and we had a muster.  I had already played the Sunday night guessing game whereby you never know if you should shower.  Knowing full well that if you do get in the shower, that is when the muster will be sounded.
Now we had a whole other kind of guessing game, you know the sort, you are 2 levels below your Muster Point, you need to go past the level with your 'Grab Bag' on.  Do you go straight to muster, as you would if it was a genuine situation?  Or do you be a spod and grab said bag out of your room?

This question, like most offshore, has no correct answer.  Many times I've been caught out in both ways...I've been the only one stood with a giant luminous rucksack, which may as well have 'LOSER' written in letters that are actually bigger than the bag.  I've also been the only one who didn't have their bag slumped over one shoulder, which has pretty mush the same effect perversely!
This time I chose to bypass the room and head straight to muster which had the plus of allowing me to be amongst the first few to arrive and place our Vantage cards in the folder.  Not a great bonus you may think but you'd be wrong as being in the vanguard of the mustered we had our choice of recliners.  Recliners are something of a status symbol offshore and having your pick of them is a luxury a service operator has all too rarely!

I was relieved to see several guys who also favoured a direct route over the grabbing of bags and chose my seat for maximum visibility in case there was some kind of 'in' joke that would have been hilarious of course...Anyone who says that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit has clearly never been the victim of a practical joke

It was at this point that the evening fell apart.  Most rigs that we go onto tend to be running at around 100 - 150 personnel but this one is currently operating with 56 so you would think that accounting for such a number would pose very little problem.  How wrong can you be!
We started solidly enough, names were checked off, we even had a roll call.  It was quietly efficient.  Then the small clues that allow you to peek behind the curtain, the increased phone activity in the Heli-Admin office behind you, the continued alarm that really should have been silenced by now, the radio chatter with the smallest hint of panic to it, the distinct lack of calm in the OIM's voice as he makes the Tannoy announcement and then the killer, we had another roll call...OH NO!!!

I should've known...we had had a crew change chopper (which we should have been on knock-if-you-cant-go) and so the quiet calm that normally pervades such an occassion was missing this time.  So it was that we entered that marvellous realm of the muster-gone-wrong, a twilight zone style area where time ceases to have any real meaning and it is really nice to be in possession of a comfortable reclining chair!

This went on for about 90 minutes all-told and had various moments of the dark gallows humour in which the North Sea is dripping (or maybe it's just the spray from the ocean swell).  My personal favourite is when the Ops Super arrived for the second time (normally we wouldn't see his kind at a vendors' muster point) to speak to our muster checker.  At one point the Ops Super had the temerity to exclaim that,

'Everyone's accounted for, we just don't know where they all are'

I stopped short of asking him to define 'Accounted for' for me...

We survived this ordeal though and I feel that as a unit we are stronger for itAm tempted to offer some pointless platitude about 'pulling together' but I won't (there are plenty of those motivational posters to go around). So I can offer these 'De-Motivators'...Enjoy!

Neil Hannon Rocks!!