It’s like all hell has broken loose.
FIRE. Taking my “lunch break” at 5:00am yesterday with my workmate, we watched one of the toast ovens catch on fire. My workmate ran up to put it out and the only thing I could do was yell “Holy shit, there’s a fire!” She unplugged it and it simmered, solving the problem. She came back to where I was sitting and glancing around the room of miners, sparkies (electricians) and chippies (carpenters) lamented, “A room full of tradies and not one came up to help me with the fire.”
ANTS. Earlier that day, I had dropped a mixed nut on the floor. When I walked in my donga it was like someone had drawn miniature polka dots reaching from the infinitesimal crevices in the wall down circling my mini fridge, across the vast desert of the floor space into the bathroom and into my trash can. There was an ant infestation. I picked up the crumbs hoping that the ants would retreat to their hiding place without anything to snack on. But these weren’t regular ants, these were lazy ants. Instead of going back into their holes and finding another treasure and radioing all of their friends to come check it out, they just died where they were. So now in my room they are still all perfect placed in the soldier-like lines, only frozen in time. I tried to wipe some up of them up with toilet paper, but I’m still finding them stuck to the bottom of my feet.
FROGS. Then when I got back from dinner I went to (you guessed it) the toilet. Before I sat down I looked, and on the toilet seat sat a green, gooey frog. I tried to trap it with a bag to release outside, but it jumping into the toilet bowl. I flopped around a bit more and I couldn’t see it, so I figured it escaped. When I flushed the toilet I saw it whirling around, confused and helpless gasping for air.
SASSY WORKMATES. There was an actual fire in the dining room but back in the kitchen another fire is brewing, ready to explode. And that’s with my new workmate, the Thai chef. She is poker-faced, unamused and happy to have an issue with everything I do. Last night during my shift I sighed so loud and said to myself, she will be the death of you.
UNCERTAINTY. Apparently because I’m here through a recruitment agency (and I cost a lot more money) there’s a chance that after this “R&R” I won’t be flown back to this camp. I wish it was like prison where if I got out I could commit another crime to come back to the amenities and security I don’t have in the outside world.
WHINGING MINERS. Part of my night shift kitchen duties involves making snack lunches of sandwiches and salads for the miners who go directly from the plane to the mine and need some feed. I go out to the airport and pass them out as they arrive around 7:00am. The number of incoming flights depends on the day, sometimes one, sometimes three. By the time they rocked up I was awake and chipper after already having worked eight hours. They approached me for their snack packs with sleepy eyes and groggy faces. How were they? Grumpy, which meant they did not like the snack packs. Some looked in the bag, pulled things out and gave me a confused stare. “What is this?” they asked, “My banana is brown!”
After the bus driver took one plane full of miners to the site, he came back to wait for the second group. “Man, some f*ckers don’t know luck when they see it,” he shook his head, “They were whinging the whole ride. Miners are dumber than rocks.” Later that night, I went to the gym. I saw one of the miners from the morning. He caught my eye and said, “I was hungry today, ay. Not a great lunch.”
BLACK MARKETS. “A carton of beer?” my Maori friend said, “That sh*t is like gold out here, man!” This morning I passed her as I was heading to bed and she was working in housekeeping. She shared her brilliant plan. There’s only one place in town where you can get takeaway alcohol, and that’s the prestigious golf club. Why is that a problem? You have to be a member to buy from there, and you have to pay. She’ll go in on a membership and buy cartons of beer for people and charge them a fee to deliver it to their rooms via the housekeeping trolley. Then she changed the subject and told me a story about how she once gave fleas to a feral cat.
QUITTING EMPLOYEES. There is one adorable, bite-sized Asian woman who worked the last few nights in the kitchen. Yesterday, she quit during her shift, leaving the Chilean backpackers with all of her duties. I shoved apple crumble in my face as he sweated doing the dishes, running out to refill the crib food and wipe down tables. Rumor has it the main chef made her cry and she’d had enough. Gossip gets around fast, and unfortunately I’ve heard a lot of accusations and nasty remarks about her. The only good part of the story is that her name was so difficult to pronounce for everyone and even more impossible to remember, so people just call her “Z”. They’ll start the gossip by saying “Eh… you know that Asian woman… Z?”
Featured photo taken in Byron Bay.
Read other updates from life on the Mine Camp here.