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Sunday, March 28, 2004
Interview with a Polee
BDP: So, what's the Standard Operating Procedure for getting dinner in the galley?
Polee: Typically, nutritional resupply involves the cooks putting out food at 1730, after which people eat it.
BDP: Do people rush to the food all at once?
Polee: Generally, no. It's usually a one-at-a-time affair, with one person filling his plate while the others wait behind him. At Pole we call it a "line". I think the Kiwis call it a "queue".
BDP: How do you decide who gets to be first in line?
Polee: Good question. Whoever gets in line first is the first in line.
BDP: Do you actually have to get in the line to be first in line? If you show up in the galley at 1700 and sit at a table, noting which people arrive after you, won't you be first in line when the food is finally spread out on the hot line?
Polee: That's kind of like calling "shotgun" before you start walking toward the car. What you're suggesting is closer to a "take a number" system of food disbursement with imaginary numbers. There's nothing intrisically wrong with such a system, of course, but that system isn't really recognized by anyone, and conflicts with the "line" system.
BDP: What if I want my food right now?
Polee: Then cut in line and take some food.
BDP: Oh good, I hate lines.
Polee: I should warn you though that utilizing food procurement standards unrecognized by others may have repercussions.
BDP: What repercussions?
Polee: People may get angry at you.
Polee: Like beasts at a watering hole, we all secretly want our food at the moment we want it, but because there is only a small area of real estate in which to stand while collecting the food, our collective conditioning has nudged us toward the "line" system as a standard to prevent other systems from erupting willy-nilly, avoiding injuries and/or loss of life at the galley hot line. When you cut in line, you are actively reminding those of us in line that we are willingly domesticated, which makes us angry. The object of our anger will be he who cut in line.
BDP: If someone gets angry at me for cutting in line, I'm just going to get angry right back.
BDP: That'll show 'em.
Polee: Have you ever wintered before?
Polee: You'll do what you will, but remember this: you're going to live with this small group of people for the next year, and they're going to come to know you better than you know yourself. Some people choose to put on a false face, some throw decorum out the window, some put all their eggs in one basket and imagine their position of authority will determine their community standing, while others insulate themselves socially. These are all understandable means of adapting to being one of many rats in a box. It's foolish to pretend to like everybody, just as it's foolish to think that they all will like you. Obviously, there's no right or wrong way to winter, but you might want to consider how much personal energy it takes for the upkeep on a perpetual grudgematch as opposed to keeping a civil distance mutually nurtured. But if you think you'll have the energy in August, knock yourself out.
BDP: So, theoretically, if I think I have enough energy to maintain interpersonal battles, I can cut in line to get food?
Polee: Listen, just shut the fuck up and get in line like everybody else.
BDP: What about after leaving the line, cutting back in to get condiments?
Polee: If the person you're cutting in front of still has their hand on one of the utensils at the hot line, this is generally acceptable.
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