Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Due South?

You may be looking at my new swim buddy.

I was reading the May 2007 edition of Men's Journal today in the bathroom. I flipped through page after page of manly endeavors, adventures and boasts. A small blurb caught my attention. Amidst the para-gliding, treacherous nighttime skiing, and mountain climbing, I found something brilliant. Antarctica. I'm not talking about whale watching trips or just flying in to check it out. I'm talking about, no bullshit, taking up residence on the southern most continent.

When it comes to travel, I'm no tourist; I want to live and breath the places I go. So when I got to the italicized text after the blurb about popping in and doing shots at the bottom of the Earth, my heart raced. Not just because I was answering nature's call, but because I think I heard a calling of a different sort. In that text there was a link to Raytheon's Polar Services website with the promise of work opportunities.

I'm no stranger to Raytheon, I ran into a few of their contractors in Iraq, but I had no idea they were at the South Pole too. Apparently, they operate the facilities down there and they hire employees through seasonal contracts in a variety of support fields. Not everyone working at a research station is a scientist. They've got mail clerks, couriers, communication technicians, carpenters, plumbers, butchers, bakers, candlestick makers and so forth. There are four to six month contracts available during the Antarctic summer, and eight to ten month contracts available for the winter.

Now, I've learned one thing about companies that fill complicated and unusual government contracts; they pay top-dollar. There's no environment more extreme than the polar ice caps, so I imagine that the pay is probably none too shabby. Even if it paid crap, which I find hard to believe, I'd probably come back with 97% of the money I made while I was there... since, to my knowledge, they don't have any malls or fancy restaurants on the South Pole.

So, here's my plan. I've applied to go to college this fall. I'll go to school for three semesters, then I'll take a year off and work ten months in Antarctica doing one of several jobs I'm qualified to do. Then I'll come back with enough money to pay for the remainder of my college. I should be pretty close to graduation by then, given the number of credits I have from DLI. Who knows? I may be able to finagle some college credit out of the whole thing. After all, it is a scientific research station. Not to mention that they boast scientific lectures and all sorts of educational garbage. Think of it as the most profitable and exotic study abroad program ever.

If Iraq taught me anything, it's that I write best when I'm in an environment without distractions. You don't get more distraction-free than Antarctica. It's just you, the birds, the nerds and the snow. There's a book down there, it's waiting for me.

Apparently they'll also let me ski. That's a plus.

So hopefully, two years from now I'll be living here...


Alejandra said...

Ryan! This would be so fantastic! I mean it would be intense, but also pretty incredible...

Gene said...

oh fuck yeah.

hey wanna roomie? we survived baghdad without killing each other...

i'm thinking of taking a break from school also...for real. penguins may just be the key.

Ryan Placchetti said...

Alejandra, tell me about it.

If hadn't been sitting on the toilet I might have crapped myself when I realized that I could go to a scientific research station in Antartica.

Gene, you know I'd room with you. All those times that you woke up looking at me standing over you with a pillow in my hands... just proves I never had it in me to murder you.

The only problem I see here is that we'd probably be applying for a lot of the same jobs. Oh, and you're a bitch in the cold. I don't know how you're surviving Chicago.

Gene said...

true, but i would want the most laziest job a janitor, unless raytheon is doing what i think they're doing and that would scare me for why would they be doing that in Antarctica?

yeah, i do bitch in the cold. i wear layers here.

tj said...

Ha, Ha, Gene is a riot. Honest and direct, ya gotta love him. This is an anwesome deal man, but the real problem is that many of us are looking for an "Iraq replacement." I could handle the cold and being as far from society has always helped me in the past. Sounds good, have fun with it.

Melissa said...

Apparently one of the best music festivals in the world happens down there every New Years:

So that should be fun.