Cabin fever is starting to set in nicely now. Notwithstanding that my original visa expired on Boxing Day, I STILL have not received an updated one. Further, there is still no evidence that my new visa has even been paid for. If it had been, and I had a copy of the receipt, I would be free to leave the compound without too much drama should I be stopped for a documents check in town.
Needless to say, my visa does not in fact appear to have been paid for, and as such it is strongly recommended that I do not leave the compound for fear of being thrown in jail for not possessing proof of my eligibility to be in the country. As a result I have been compound-confined and am starting to miss out on various activities comprising off-compound fun. So far, this includes 2 dinners (1 at the fancy restaurant halfway up the mountain and 1 at the American Embassy) at least 2 shopping trips and a belated Christmas party scheduled to take place in town this weekend.
An added complication is the fact that I was due to start work this week. As my new office is slightly off-compound I need my papers to be able to attend. As such, today was the second day working from home and it remains to be seen whether tomorrow will progress in a similar fashion.
It is somewhat strange to be moving from the category of “wives” (or “wags” as has been referred to previously!) to “worker.” And in fact if I was being completely paranoid or sensitive I would suggest that there is a form of mild judgment now that I will no longer be able to play Rummy on Wednesday afternoons or go shopping in town mid-week in the middle of the day, or participate in some of the volunteering activities that seem to be arising just recently. I hope it is not completely the case of being outcast from one group because of a choice to work – of course, in a practical sense it is no longer possible to participate in the mid-week activities when one is working full time. I too would have been happy (as I was!) not working for a while, but for someone who was busting to get a part time job at 14 years of age, it is not a tendency which is easy to resist. At the end of the day it is very, very nice to have the choice, as so many people do not.
The week otherwise commenced with two days of induction/training – which I can say was nothing like any training I have ever done in my previous life. Not only do I now know the basic theory regarding confined space, lock-out tag-out, hot/cold work permits and JSA’s, but I have also used a fire extinguisher (to put out an actual fire!) and been pulled 30 metres into the air as part of Billy Pugh training. For those like me who had no idea who or what Billy Pugh is, it is a kind of manual lift which is used to transfer personnel from a boat in the middle of the ocean to the offshore platform.
Given my intense phobia of heights I have to say I was pretty damn pleased with myself for participating in the training without having a complete nervous breakdown. Although whether I’ll ever actually Billy Pugh myself offshore (which is 3 times the height of the training apparatus, faster and subject to wind!) is entirely another thing. Being picked up by a crane with 3 other oil and gas blokes while trying not to squeal (okay so there may have been a little squeal or profanity which slipped out) may be my limit.
So now it is a matter of waiting until the new visa is at least paid for or otherwise granted before I can get my PPE on and get out into the office beyond the compound and start work. It is exciting to think that I will be soon be learning new skills in an industry which until recently was only a vague blur beyond the horizon. Also exciting is the prospect of doing a job where I am on occasion required to wear a hard-hat, but don’t have to worry about make-up!