Bonfire of the… Cigarettes?
September 15, 2010 2 Comments
I have never at any time said that where I work is a tropical paradise nor a lovely place to visit in west Africa. Mind you, there are some lovely places in this large continent that could be visited and enjoyed, with my personal favorite being J’Berg in South Africa, but this one… let’s just say that on the scale of one to ten, with ten being Bali and one being the Korean DMZ, this one rates the score of “shit”, and if the word “shit” were a number it would hate itself.
Where I work, for the uninitiated, is in the middle of a swamp at the mouth of a fairly large river. To give you a general environmental idea, it is a cross between the river delta at the end of the Mississippi river and that dump at the other end of town that after a rain could be smelled in a five mile radius around it. The site itself is constructed on a man-made sand bar that sits about a meter above the water line so when the rains come through, and oh do they, flooding is but seconds away from happening and happens if I pour old coffee out of my office window.I keep waiting for them to issue out scuba gear to us but I think it was removed during a cost-cutting binge, so (and this is the truth) we all tend to keep plastic bags in our pockets to avoid having to buy a new cell phone every time we step outdoors.
-Think the photo above but with more agua. I mean no worries, you get used to it after a time, but you had better know how to swim prior to getting here. Also, due to the location of the site we are miles from any and all civilization and actually live on the construction site. No Big Mac attack here; if you want to eat you either go to the collective dining facility (AVOID THE CHILI CON CARNE FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY) or you do like most of us expats do and pony in your food, and since the usual hitch is about two months long you tend to bring in vast amounts of food that have a pretty solid shelf life.
-Top Ramen anyone?
Our primary form of entertainment / social time is to hit the only pub on site for a couple of hours and consume amounts of libations while smoking cigarettes and telling tales as tall as the tower of Babel, but with more unintelligible words spoken. Brits, Scots, South Africans, Americans and all other nationalities inbetween converge on this one spot at 1830 EXACTLY, post in their well-worn seat or standing area, and do not move save to refill for the next 2 1/2 hours, or until tracing the wall is required to get back to one’s room. Good times if you ask me, but it’s not like any of us out here have that much of a variety of entertainment to choose from.
Then I get word that this happened recently.
Yes my friends, that is an incinerator and yes, those are boxes of cigarettes. As I heard the story there was a right good time had on site by the expats… of which one of the top management got a little bothered that there were people enjoying themselves and made the comment that if he was to run into another person that was obviously drunk he was going to make a statement that would be “disagreeable” to the populous. If you guessed that he is a non-drinker / non-smoker, DING! You win the Kewpie doll!
-Lo and behold the next day said person ran into a fellow that was inebriated, which apparently led to his wondrous response… of setting fire to all of the cigarettes in the store and pouring out all of the spirits from behind the bar!
Let me let you in on some of the logistics of a site like this: if you want something out here you have to purchase it. There is no stores that you can go to when in need of any of your day-to-day items, and there are no on-site vendors to peddle their wares: the site has to purchase these things and then turn around and sell them to the employees. What does this reveal for those playing at home? ALL OF THE CIGARETTES AND BOOZE THAT WERE DISPOSED OF WERE ALREADY PURCHASED BY THE VERY ENTITY THAT GOT RID OF THEM!!! There does tend to be a big problem when you do that though, as you can’t SELL product that you decided to destroy! You just eliminated any ability you had to possibly recover the money that you spent trying to get the crap to site!
Hurray for you!
Good on ya for attempting to make our situation even more miserable than it currently is for the people that obey the rules. In the mean time I’ll be sitting back smoking the cigarettes that I brought in with me from home. Might just have to go to the Nigerians to get a bottle or two for the room…