The most remarkable joy of my return to the Ice 7 years later is the amount of joy and laughing I’ve be apart of during these last two seasons. This last summer I started by everything being last minute and so was delivered into the Network Operations Center (NOC) without knowing any of my direct co-workers. It was lucky then that the season was so touched by such enjoyable people.
Although I definitely got work done, I always felt like the work was an interlude between laughing fits. Jeri especially was the touchstone of the NOC. If she laughed, we would laugh. Anthony, sitting right behind her, often turned around an emitted something as if he was a time traveler from the future who’d only studied the wrong era of language. Ryan threw in some great practical jokes. Arien, well… the humble ego (which apparently is possible) with his snap shirts and pushups goading was always, always, getting Jeri to laugh.
The I.T. table was one that people seeked out, rather than avoided for being the nerd table. Many times we were looked at from a full galley due to the entire table laughing hysterically. I came to look forward to the lunch hour as our laughing hour. I’m sure we didn’t laugh every day, but I’ll likely remember that we tried.
The strange part is that I don’t remember much of the inside jokes, nor the stand up comedy, or of Anthony’s odd euphemism. What I do remember is the smiles, people turning red from belly laughs, the need to breath, and wonderful emotional releases everyone had throughout the Summer season.
So too it has continued during the Winter. There are many days I look forward to during the week. Particularly Volleyball on Tuesday, and the every other week Trivia Wednesday nights. Volleyball, funny? What? Really? Yep, the very definition of ROFL. We have developed a rapport that allows for the amazing, the breath taking, the simply strange, and the wonderful to take place in a 40 year old falling apart gym. What’s more is how much our volleyball has actually improved in addition to the silliness that ensues. Beyond the silly jousts, spikes, and rejections, that we all acclaim, we now also get amazing saves with energetic foot work and not a touch of antics. By far the most hysterical thing I’ve heard of so far is a jammed finger that transmuted into playing with mittens, and by all rights playing well. It’s a bit of jungle ball, but it’s fun and we blow off steam. Very enjoyable, yet slightly competitive.
Trivia night is a similar night for letting loose. Somehow, although it’s generally very loud, we always manage to end up with very happy people. Hartman and Sarah both the best and worst moderators for trivia. Best for the antics and worst for speed. Sniping, side bets, peanut gallery corrections, and distractions of all types. They set the bar high for the visiting trivia judges, and so far they’ve delivered.
Finally, and most beloved by me right now, is our “Family Table” in the Galley. As opposed to the single 5-8 spot round table I.T. that was normally used, the Winter has a very unique table. Right now it’s 4 rectangular tables, strung together to seat about 10-20% of the station, or as many as 30 people at it’s height. No one has specific spots, we randomly sit at the table when we aren’t visiting. Conversations happen in all corners and in if you don’t catch the joke at one end, one will soon happen on your end. I won’t say it’s all lovey dovey, but people seem to get along really well. The longer we’ve been around each other, the more the inside jokes have heighten. Someone mentioned that ground troops get this way, so familiar that one jokes just roll on into the next prank, which delivers them into the next old story, etc.
I can’t sit at it every meal or every day of the week, but when I can I love to hang around and mingle. It may not be a joke, or a story, but a conversation that I’ve found very satisfying. It’s the people that really make this station run, sometimes we get lost in the politics on station, the whining and bitching we all do, the inanities of a “Groundhog Day” life, but this–my first winter–has been wonderful one.