An Endless Stream of Coffee

Guest Blog Janel Hershey

Tyee Middle School

Tyee Middle School teacher, Janel Hershey, processes hydrothermal fluids collected from nearly a mile beneath the oceans’ surface. Credit: M. Elend, University of Washington; V19.

I never drank coffee until I became a teacher. Fourteen years of teaching and now I look forward to my cup of coffee every morning. It isn’t the taste or smell I look forward to. Routine brings me comfort. The morning coffee ritual takes me to the Keurig machine in the teacher work room. I chat with the other early arriving staff members who are making coffee, checking mail, making copies, getting the gossip from outside of my classroom bubble, and all this to wake up to face potentially 160 middle schoolers. Routines help me wake up, get my work done, and gives me space to decompress.

“Squished” styrofoam cups taken down of the remotely operated vehicle Jason.

So, I make a plan while on this adventure with the help of Katie, a UW student with lots of cruise experience. When given two 4-hour shifts, noon – 4pm and midnight to 4am, you plan for a different routine with the key of fitting in food and sleep. Meals on board have a schedule, 45 minutes for meal time and make sure you tell the galley if you can’t make it, they make a plate for you and set it aside. With these things in mind, the plan is:

11:15am: Wake up.

11:30am: “Breakfast” during galley lunchtime.

11:45am: Get a briefing on the current dive to take over Sealog.

Noon – 4pm: Sealog work shift.

4pm: A little break, wander through the main lab looking for work, maybe check messages, bug people with questions.

5:30pm: “Lunch” during galley dinnertime, then see if the people on shift need a break to have a meal before it ends at 6:15.

6pm: Go to the main lab and wet lab to see who can use a hand, read site summaries and dive plans, wander around, ask questions, take a shower, take some breaks

8:30pm: Take a nap (2-3 hours).

11:45pm: Start shift at midnight that ends at 4.

4:30 am: Shift ends, got to bed (6 hours 15min.)

Looks good, seems to have enough sleep, but I notice that the plan is missing a meal (Galley breakfast is 7:30 – 8:15…prime sleeping time). Oh well, there are snacks around and I could ask for a plate of food to be put aside. I am not worried.

This routine has NEVER happened. There is no routine on the ship. After one dive, then next one starts so people are working 24 hours a day. What that means is that routine is pushed aside for everyone. For me it means my fear of missing out takes over. And on this ship my fear is high. After all, I am a stowaway. I feel compelled to work for my keep and soak in this once in a lifetime experience. My curiosity and interest in learning override a normal routine. Will I miss an amazing geologic feature? Will a shark go by during an ascent or descent? If I stay inside all the time, will I miss the whale sighting? What about the dolphins or the stars at night? Can I do something for someone that lets them eat or sleep? Everything is new and different for me. FOMO.