Monday, July 7, 2008

Epic win, or massive fail?

"We're either the pinnacle of success, or the rock bottom of failure."

-Eric, current station manager

The usual addage is that you don't come to Antarctica for the money, and if you compare the weekly wages on a dollar-for-dollar basis, that's pretty true. The general rule is you will make about 1/2 to 2/3 here as compared to what you could make in the USA doing roughly the same work (especially given that we work 54+ hours per week, that would factor in a lot of overtime)

But that's not really the whole picture. True, if you have a family, a house, mortgage, possessions, a solid life with roots put down back in the states, it would be very hard to support that with your average Antarctic salary.

The flipside is that most people here DON'T have roots down anywhere. And since everything sans booze is provided for free to you down here, you're not spending any money while you're here to support yourself. The most that some people have to pay is a fee for a storage locker back stateside, if that. So the vast majority, if not all, of the money that you make here just goes right into your bank account, where it just sits there and collects dust.

Which means that at the end of your contract, most people are just dumped into South America or New Zealand with a big wad of cash . . . and absolutely no obligations, commitments, or responsibilities to anyone, anywhere. Some might call that the pinnacle of success.

On the other hand, we also have no job, no home, no safety net, and for most of us, no possessions but a couple of duffel bags of long underwear and sweatshirts.

I guess if that's a success or failure depends on your outlook on life.

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