Tuesday, June 26, 2007

fish packing

There's a small ad that appears in newspaper classifieds all over the place here - for 'fish packers in Alaska'. Yes you can earn zillions of dollars a month apparently packing fish there. Students sometimes contemplate it for a year off; 'Hey I could go and pack fish for 6 months, then earn enough to travel.' Maybe it's even a fantasy for domestic workers, packed into taxis on the early morning run from the townships to the plush suburbs. 'Maybe today I'll hand in my notice and go and pack fish in Alaska. In one year I could earn enough to buy a house.'
I met a woman who did it once - she said it was dark all the time, cold, nasty, smelly and depressing. She flew back home after 6 weeks.

After yesterday's episode of Oprah aired, I doubt there'll be too many new takers here. A pretty young woman hobbles on stage and tells Oprah her story.

She was on board a fishing trawler somewhere near Alaska, in the middle of a terrible storm. She leaned inside a menacing-looking fish disembowelling machine - trying to pull out the tails or something. Anyhow, because the sea was so choppy she'd fallen right into this lethal metal vat. Although it was switched off, the motion of the sea tossed the ship and triggered the 'on' switch. The vat's metal chomper-blades whirred into action and started to chew up the woman's legs. She couldn't get out or switch it off. Plus she'd found out that very morning that she was pregnant. High drama on the high seas. Meanwhile crucial medical help was helicopter miles away, through a storm across the ocean...

At this point, the programme cuts to a solemn-faced Oprah who reminds us of the salient facts - gross, gripping and rather unbelievable. I feel sick.
Happily a year on - the victim is now recovered (legs pinned back together), smiling and healthy. Baby is healthy too. Phew. A happy ending.

Fish packing in Alaska anyone?


potdoll said...

thanks for that beautiful image!

wonder if she still likes fish?

Pillock said...


On the other hand, I have a couple friends who went, made a bunch of money, came back with loads of stories to tell.

Far away said...

Pot hmmmm - she probably prefers chicken now.

Pillock - hmmm - not a job for shirkers though is it?

Elinor said...

This is why I avoid daytime TV, it's the thief of your soul. Glad she survived to tell the tale though.

Anna said...

Mmmm - I live in the US and never see adds for working in Alaska. Never heard of such a thing. Why target SAfricans, I wonder. Or elsewhere. Curious.

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