Visiting the Pit

Visiting the Pit

Michael McGrorty

I was A PC and had the habit of visiting friends around the ship. Once I went into the fire room and saw a pal standing watch. He was at a station keeping a log. The space must have been over 125 degrees. The station was beneath a vent that blasted AC down, but it only cooled to about a hundred degrees, if that.

I never saw anybody in the machinery spaces that wasn’t saturated with sweat. I used to tell the BTs and MMs not to carry postage in their shirt pockets because you couldn’t get a refund on ruined stamps.

Noisy? Not at all. There was just a continual background scream as if a very dull cutting tool was shaving hard steel on a lathe.

When the door to the main spaces opened into the main deck passageway, a blast of heat shot out like the lid came off a blast furnace.

They had an ice machine down there in hell, whose purpose was to provide a bit of cold for satan’s assistants. They would guzzle ice water from three-pound coffee cans.

Despite all this, the snipes would come up for chow looking like they’d been pulled through a keyhole. They got a very pale fish-belly appearance after a while. I did not envy them, no matter that their exam multiple was far below mine.

I wonder if most of them knew what the job would entail when they went in.