“You can see the rain,” Gina said from the front seat of our Toyota Hilux. I looked out the window. The sky, with an orange glow, was cloudy but the sun was still shining.
“Oh, is it raining?” I asked, thinking that it might be in the distance, but not where we were.
“NO, I JUST SAID THAT FOR NO REASON,” Gina snapped back. This is just one of the many outbursts that Gina has had over the last few days while working with Martha (yep, I’m back with Martha), Ryan and I mine site cleaning.
Other abrupt and forceful replies have included “NO, THEY’RE NOT CHOCOLATE” when I asked if her lollies melted in the car and “IT WAS THE BOTTOM LENT DOOR, NOT THE TOP DRYER DOOR” to when I asked her why the dryer screen says “door.” Gina springs from normal conversation to being hot and bothered – that’s in her own words – within seconds. Anything of little importance could turn into a life or death situation based on her tone of voice. It has left Martha and I speechless and confused as we sit in the wake of her fervor. After careful consideration, Martha and I have determined that, considering she holds little grudges against our seeming “idiocrasy,” she doesn’t behave this way to be hurtful.
This, however, hasn’t stopped Martha from imitating Gina at any given moment. It’s started to get under her skin so much so that anytime she gives me a suggestion or a correction, she first says it as if she was Gina, then mumbles how she would normally say it.
A couple of nights ago, Gina, Martha and I were sitting at the crib room table together. I was on my third serving of cake (#guilty). When Martha made her normal comments about how much I eat, Gina looked at me and contributed to the conversation. “Yeah, you do eat a lot,” she said. Then she added, “I don’t eat sweets. Otherwise, I’ll just blow up.” The thing is, Gina isn’t a small woman. She’s not obese, but it would be a huge stretch to call her fit or in shape. We sat in silence for the next ten minutes of break as I took bites out of my cheesecake.
Later, when Gina came in eating her lollies (the ones I mistook for melted chocolate), she left the bag in the room. Martha suggested that I eat half of it and then say to Gina, “Just looking after your weight.”
Martha, the naughty girl, doesn’t just fantasize about messing with Gina. She has even decided to do things on purpose that irk Gina. “I’m being a bitch,” she explained to me tonight.
“You know I always open up the laundry room door with my keys?” Martha asked me, “Well I always do it first to the wrong side, because Gina’s always watching me and every night says, ‘I ALREADY TOLD YOU MARTHA, YOU TURN IT TO THE LEFT!’” And tonight, after a heated discussion with the four of us over who would do what laundry from what departments of the mine site, Martha decided to do one of Ryan’s and Gina’s areas just to stir them up, because as Ryan accused her today, “YOU’RE THE BOSS MARTHA, YOU JUST MAKE YOUR OWN RULES UP, HUH?”
Gina may be unpredictable and harsh, but Ryan is exhausting. A 22-year-old Kiwi (I told you people think they’re crazy) who has failed to get into the army four times (his last interview he showed up in thongs and shorts, claiming it was ‘their fault’ because he had just gotten off of night shift). He even tried to make alliances and get me on his side. When he realized that I wasn’t an easy target to lull over to his hatred of Martha, something changed between us. He stopped trusting me and has stopped complaining about Martha to me. Or, at least, he hasn’t done it as much. He still shakes his head at me when she walks out of the room.
And like a love-struck teenager, Gina just adores him. She stares at him much in the same way that my grandma’s eyes sparkle when she’s the center of attention. She agrees with almost everything Ryan says and laughs at all of his jokes. I almost throw up.
Ryan and Gina, a volatile pair, have split off from the group. They ride around in the mine site van while we cruise around in the ute. We’re now in two warring bands, barely ever encountering each other, save the tension-filled ride to and from the mine site.
Martha and I, because we’ve already had a lot of fun working together before, still have a great time. And now because there are four of us one site, more staff than normal, we often find ourselves struggling to find things to do. Martha has taken to making laps around all of the buildings, sitting at 19 kilometers per hour, repeating, “You just can’t rush these things.”
We linger an extra-long time at the different areas, finding guys to talk to. We make small talk about what people cooked on their weeks off, how they’re coming in the Barramundi fishing competition and if applicable, I ask lots of questions about their grandchildren. That seems to be a crowd favorite and people are never short of adorable stories to tell me.
Despite the drama amongst our team, Martha and I found ways to laugh and forget the elephant on the site. But the moments when the four of us do reconvene, it’s as if those had the power to grab my peaceful nature and rip it off of me like a housekeeper stripping a bed.
When we were still eating dinner all together – silent, but in the same room- Martha walked out because she couldn’t handle hearing Ryan’s voice anymore. After she left, Gina and Ryan started an endless and animated chatter about all of Martha’s “hypocrisies” and mistakes. I asked if they could please stop, because it was actually making me dizzy. They didn’t. They continued.
I didn’t automatically take their side, which annoyed them (they told me I’m a “suck up”). I realized that a lot of what Gina was saying and agreeing with was the exact opposite of what she had said the previous night, behind Ryan’s back. When Gina got up from the table to go to the toilet, I turned to Ryan. “She is not to be trusted,” I said, “She is two-faced! Everything you’re saying now, she complained about last night!”
“Man, it’s like we’re on survivor or something!” he laughed. And I realized, with all of this back and forth and talking behind each other’s backs, whispering, petty mind games and blaming, we very well could have been. If only they had a camera to record it all.
Featured photo: A sleeping dog I saw at a petrol station in Northern Territory. Its emotional state is how I feel when my coworkers continue to fight like this.
Didn’t catch the previous post, “Don’t Talk To Me In The Morning“? Or did you miss the Mine Camp Diary before that? Here it is. Read the rest of the diaries here. Very confused? Read the first Mine Camp Diary entry!