Thursday, June 07, 2007

All in a name...or not

Colorful names and nicknames for places and people have long been a part of Antarctic tradition. At the South Pole station, we have buildings with such names as the Cheese Palace, Chades, Altie Meadows and the like. I don't know if there are other "official" names for them because it seems that's just what they've always been called. Ice Palace just sounds so much more fun than something like Summer Camp bathroom #1.

We've entered a new era of being politically correct now, of not overstepping the corporate line dictated from above or doing anything to raise the eyebrows of human resources. There are several structures that are known by certain names in the Polie lexicon but "officially" we can't call them that because they are not in line with the image that the government agency running the show wants to project to the world.

For instance, this is what everyone refers to as the Beercan. It's the structure that protects a stairwell that goes from the power plant arch, now buried under the snow, up to the first and second floors of the Elevated Station, and it looks like a beer can if you have a little imagination. The official name is The Vertical Tower. How brilliant is that? Maybe the name helps to distinguish it from the Horizontal Tunnels that we also have here. We're not supposed to call it the Beercan because that would imply that we know what alcohol is and I should also add that we are not allowed to include any alcohol in any photos that are used by our company or the government agency or that are used for any PR purposes.

This is the new smoking bar, the 2.0 Lounge, located right at the bottom of the stairs at Destination Alpha (near the SOC). But we're not allowed to call it a bar or a lounge. It is officially the Smoking Facility because to call it a bar or lounge implies that not only are people drinking in there, they're also having fun, another thing that is apparently discouraged. By the way, it was announced last week that in 2010, all of the US Antarctic stations will be entirely smoke-free and there will no longer be any indoor smoking facilities, bars or lounges.
Here is a closeup of a sign that used to be on the door, a nice touch of ironic whimsy, I think, but there were stern orders from up above to remove the sign.

We did used to have a fun bar, 90 South, when we still had the old galley under the Dome. That was taken down in winter 2005 and the smokers got moved into the Black Box, a dinky little storage room that I used to use for alcohol storage for the store. Then last winter, the Black Box went away and we were able to turn the old gym into the new bar. It was christened the Dodgy Bastards Bar, but of course we couldn't officially call it that in anything for fear of offending delicate ears.

Here's the kicker. Now we've just been told that we are no longer allowed to call the galley the galley and must use the official name the Dining Hall Facility. "See you up in the Dining Hall Facility" is just not going to catch on and I don't care what the official orders are, I'm still calling it the plain ol' galley. I suppose we could call it the DHF since we also love acronyms down here but I just found out that there's a limit to that too. I submitted an article to our company's monthly newsletter and mentioned the BF5K, highlighted here in an earlier post. The final edition came out this week with my article heavily edited and the 3rd Annual BF5K was turned into simply the 3rd Annual 5K, which completely missed the whole essence of the event, organized by BFK. I should have known. Maybe we have to call Kevin just K, instead of BFK from now on.

So I guess I should add the disclaimer that this blog will be using non-PC terms whenever possible and the galley will be called the galley and the photos will, at times, show alcohol and people having fun. If the corporate and government agency police start cracking down on us ice bloggers too, it will be a sad day for freedom of speech.


At 12:05 AM, Anonymous Tara said...

Let's hear it for freedom of speech! I'm not a fan of political correctness when it is taken to the ridiculous extreme and infringes our basic civil liberties.

BTW what is the "official title" of the sugar shack? "Private refrigerated conjugal facility"? LOL!

At 2:38 AM, Anonymous WaterDon said...

Good for you Heidi! Too many HR representatives are incapable or unwilling to do useful work. They should stop the Gestapo nonsense and find you a decent medical plan.
Budget cuts should always include the snipy,pompous cubicle rats that infest and infect HR.
My taxes employ these parasites!

At 4:22 AM, Blogger Kathleen said...

Way to go, Heidi! God bless the Polies!! (oh, can I say that word... G-O-D? ...and can I even say the word 'polies' without threat of not being called back for another years' contract?) What the hell... I'll live recklessly: God bless the Polies! I've said it before and I'll say it again: ______ (the name of a large, government foundation) and ______ (the name of a private company that is contracted by said gov't organization) would never be successful in Antarctica if they didn't have people who broke the rules to get things done. So, if breaking the rules means being so bold as to speak of the beercan, then so be it! By the way, hopefully I'll see you in the galley next year...

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