My short bio: Worked as a steward down there for 4.5 months. So I did some prep cook stuff, cleaned pots and pans, and maintained cleanliness around station. Did it after graduating university as a dare. I'm kidding.

My Proof: Here is me inappropriately dressed, freezing my tatas off and drinking a beer.

Comments: 66 • Responses: 25  • Date: 

Misteralcala9 karma

How's the tail there? I assume the pick of ladies isn't anything to brag about, but cabin fever probably eventually adds points in their favor, I'd assume? Also, do you get to eat any local delicacies, like whale and penguin?

Edit: yes. I'm asking the important questions!

buttgoblin_eater6 karma

Good start! So there's a board in the main strip (Called Highway 1) that people must traverse to go eat in the galley. On these boards there's offers of free classes, groups to join, ect. There's also always a counter of how many people are on station and what the male/female ratio is, just for kicks.

It always sat around 20-25% females. I was lucky, and found a lady about two months in. But most people, it gets kinda aggressive! Nothing hostile, but there are slim pickings, for sure. And then there's the mean age which seems to sit a bit high for my tastes.

So there's a specific treaty law established sometime in the 50's that forbids us from ever messing with any wildlife in any direct or indirect way. So, short answer, unfortunately no. I did get to have clean antarctic ice over nice scotch sometimes, though.

Misteralcala2 karma

Awesome! Also, another reason for the slow start may be because it's approaching 2 A.M. Pacific Time. I'm sorry you missed out on whale jerky and penguin fritters, but scotch and ice does sounds so good right now.

buttgoblin_eater0 karma

Yeah, insomnia is a bitch. I have been a long-time reddit lurker, and finally decided to make an account like yesterday and start something maybe. Ill timing indeed, though, I agree.

buttgoblin_eater3 karma

Oh! And I forgot to add, yes. Cabin fevere makes the women so much more hotter after some time. I've heard it being referred to as being 'McMurdo'd,' or the way in which some people get increasingly attractive over time.

Ed20994 karma

What's the pay like? Do you have to pay rent? Do you get paid every week? What if you quit? Do they charge you for the flight out?

buttgoblin_eater5 karma

Depends on what you do, the wages are very variable. The difference is made though when you realize you don't have to pay for anything; not housing, not food, nothing. The only thing you have to pay for is alcohol (which is rationed) and cigarettes. You get paid twice a month, but you're not concerned about your pay because you don't really pay for anything...

If you quit, they just fly you out. It is the NSF we're talking about, and the government as an obligation contractually to make sure you get back to the states safely. So, short answer, no, if you quit they just take you home.

Willa_Catheter_work3 karma

How old are you and how long since you've graduated from college? Is the age bracket spread or are most of the people there close in years?

Have you been contacted by people who want to work there or have you let people know you could try to hook them up?

That is a great job to list on your CV BTW -- good conversation bit in an interview :-)

buttgoblin_eater4 karma

I'm currently 24, I graduated college at 22 and went down there about 6 months later, and subsequentially turned 23 down there. I was definitely one of the youngest on station, I think maybe the 6 or seventh youngest out of everyone. Most people are in their thirties, or older. But some of the most interesting people are down there, from all walks of life. I ate dinner with astronauts and physicists alike.

No, not really. I decided afterwards I didn't want to live in the states anymore so I moved to Australia and have lived there any since. McMurdo is explicitly American, so I couldn't really help anyone get a job.

It is! I have talked about it to so many people, and it really is a crazy unique experience. So many interesting things that happened down there.

AshShilkin3 karma

Were you ever concerned that there would be a storm so bad that you'd be stranded for so long you'd run out of food and water?

buttgoblin_eater7 karma

Well, there are three types of weather, called Condition 1, 2, and 3. They roll in quickly and unexpectedly, but the station has about 650 people on it at any time, and is built on old volcanic ash, so it's relatively stable. Water wouldn't be a problem, we're surrounded by ice for miles and miles! As for food, there's about 2-3 years worth of food stored out in the ice for us to eat, just needs to be thawed. So, no.

Only similar situation was I used to suffer from panic attacks, and haven't had them in so long because I've learned to control them very well. I did have one at one time because it can get a little claustrophobic, but nobody ever knew, it was late at night and I was alone in my dormitory.

DontExcgarate3 karma

Is it cold?

buttgoblin_eater7 karma

Yeah, it's cold! The summer (when I was there) was not as cold as you would expect, sometimes with the wind chill if would get above zero centigrade. At these times I would wear shorts, naturally.

icareaboutpotatos3 karma

Do people go crazy if they're down there too long? Or just get really odd? You know, like that scientist in Independence Day because they're so isolated from society :)

PS Thanks for doing the AMA

buttgoblin_eater2 karma

Not really at McMurdo, but there are stories of people at the south pole. Don't really know how much I can say on here, because it's the internet, but the south pole is a little more taxing from because it is impossible to get out at certain times of year, and from what I've been told, there are very few people stuck down there for very long periods of time. Can create sorta lord-of-the-flies like situations, but I wouldn't know anything about that.

SoonToBeEngineer2 karma

What qualifications of yours do you think made them decide to pick you? What was the selection process like?

buttgoblin_eater4 karma

I'm super pretty, so I think that had something to do with it. Nah, but honestly I knew someone down there before so that might have helped, as they like to hire people who they know aren't insane and such. Kinda like being vouched for to live in this tight-knit community for extended periods of time. I did my time as a steward, the simplest yet one of the most grueling jobs down there. I did it straight out of college, and even though my job requirements were cleaning and prep cooking, I would say most stewards on station were some of the most educated. It's kind of like 'doing your time,' perse, and most people down there started off by getting their foot in the door by starting off doing a lower-end job, then progressing more into something they want to do explicitly.

spiel_suchen1 karma

So, I have a few questions.

  • Do you have to carry a weapon to defend yourself against seals ?(serious question)

  • Have you ever been to the base at the actual south pole? What's it like there?

  • Have you ever been able to explore locations of historical interest? (like relics of previous expeditions, abandoned buildings and bases, old whalers and equipment)

  • Are there any places on the continent where tourists can visit?

  • Have you noticed any Nazi activity?

buttgoblin_eater1 karma

No, there are no weapons on station. It's a very peaceful place, and any violence of any kind gets you immediately and indefinitely expelled from the continent.

I have never been to the South Pole. I only knew people who did.

Yep! Scott hut isn't far away from station, and there is a cross on top of Ob Hill that has some form of historical significance, I believe it was built out of someone important's ship when they first arrived.

I'm completely unsure as to how tourism works, but I do have mixed feelings about it. The environment down there is pristine and hardly touched, and tourists don't seem to respect it nor get the training we do to keep it the way it has been for millions of years.

I don't think I recall the word 'Nazi' ever even being used while I was there... There are no Nazi associations that I know of, and frankly, that's a rather humorous inquiry.

letitgoelsa1 karma

What's the coldest temperature you've personally endured, and did it freeze anything like gasoline or antifreeze?

buttgoblin_eater2 karma

Umm, I think it wasaround -40 centigrade with wind chill one day. Not that I know of, but everything down there is kept safe and contained, and it's pretty well maintained. For instance, the trucks, which are like F350's in some cases, are always plugged in when not in use to keep the engines warm. So, I think there are precautions to ensure these kind of things don't happen.

cosmic_punk1 karma

How many people are down there at any given time?

buttgoblin_eater1 karma

Usually around 600 to 750 in the summer time, then the vessel comes in (a big boat with supplies for the year) and the station population goes up to around 1000 for about two weeks. It's around 100 in the winter.

cosmic_punk1 karma

That's more than I would have guessed. How are the quarters? Submarine-like?

And what the hell is wrong with those 100? :)

buttgoblin_eater1 karma

No, they are above ground. Everything is built on old volcanic ash, so it's relatively stable, except the fact that everything was built straight out of the 70's or so. Yeah, winter-overs are kinda strange. Lot's of stories about those folks. I'm not that brave!

Ringsaker1 karma

How was the nightlife?

buttgoblin_eater2 karma

Haha, well there is technically no 'nightlife.' I was there for 4.5 months and I never saw nighttime, due to the way it is positioned in relation to the sun. Always so weird to come out of a bar at 2 in the morning and it's broad daylight.

There are two bars and people do like to have a drink or nine occasionally. Not really anything crazy though, it is a government facility and everyone must work a minimum of 54 hours a week, so not much free time between sleep and work.

Epicallytossed1 karma

Any internet down there? If so, what speeds?

buttgoblin_eater3 karma

Internet is quite slow, and only by wired connection. There's no wifi on station, and no cell towers. Important people get pagers, if that gives you any idea of what the technology is like.

GenghisGaz1 karma

You get a lot of customers down there?

buttgoblin_eater3 karma

Customers? No, we provided support for people who worked on station. Primarily the station is research based, so everything is government funded and run, so there's no exchange of money for any services or food. Unless you want alcohol or cigarettes, really.

GenghisGaz2 karma

You ever had frost bite? If so what's it like?

buttgoblin_eater3 karma

No! We do have extensive training for situations to avoid frostbite, but I was there during summer and it wasn't as cold as you would think it would be. I DO recall stepping off the airplane when I first arrived and getting brain freeze from opening my mouth, though.

Only instance I knew of that happened was somebody had some on their ear, and they managed to recover fully. We getting pretty intense gear before we go down, I can post a photo of my full outfit if you'd like!

GenghisGaz1 karma

Yeah sure! Also have you had any contact with any wildlife? Any dangerous situations?

buttgoblin_eater2 karma

Yup, saw seals every day. Called them 'ice turds,' because that's what they look like from a distance. There are giant birds called 'skua' that love to dive bomb you if they think you have any food in hand, so that's funny sometimes to watch. There are also leopard seals you are told to avoid (I didn't meet any but the Weddell seals) and orca whales that you can see from the blowholes randomly from broken ice sections in the distance.

As for dangerous situations, the stations itself is pretty safe. When you go out to ski, or snow-machine up to the active volcano, you have to be careful for great crevasses under thin layers of ice, which you can fall in and die before they can ever get you out. But there's a department on station that marks safe routes for people to take by flags. They use sonar or something to make sure the ice is sturdy enough, if I can remember correctly.

GenghisGaz2 karma

How did you come about such an awesome job? I want to work in Antarctica!

buttgoblin_eater2 karma

Well, it all started when I was approached by a few men wearing trench coats one day while at my local grocer. No haha, but honestly, I knew someone who already worked down there and found out through them, then applied. Other than that, you just have the interview, the meticulous health checks (there's not much by way of medical facilities down there...) and background check.

Then you're on your way, sans a government shutdown...

Oli19911 karma


So what career fields are required? Molecular biology? I am currently taking a bachelor in that.

buttgoblin_eater2 karma

Depends on what you want to do! There are so many scientists doing whatever they do down there, I'm not too sure, but the support staff do everything from firefighting to cooking. If you wanted a job down there in your actual field of molecular biology, I would believe it to be very, very hard. Some of our scientists (or 'beakers,' as their called down there) are international, so you're competing globally for those positions. You kinda have to be an expert in your field, but maybe you are! I would say, if you want to just go down there for the experience, do something below your career field. Most of the people in the kitchens are WAY overqualified, but it's kinda like a 'right of passage' to do the hard boring work for a season, then come back another season in something you want to do.

randomwierd01 karma

Besides the internet and trying to make Frosty come back to life, what do you do on your free time? Are there clubs or other social gatherings, or do you go out to explore the wilderness?

buttgoblin_eater1 karma

There are two bars down there, and drinking is a very popular past-time. Other than that, yes, there are many activities to partake in. The good thing is, there are so many people from so many parts of the world with so many skills. These people offer classes to workshops down there, all for free, so that everyone can get to hang out and perhaps learn something! So there's free daily yoga lessons, (and something called Laughing Yoga?) Latin classes, soccer leagues, ect. It Helped make the time go by, and most are so informal and fun! There's no money exchanged for any that I'm aware of, but the society really is a bit of a free utopia, other than the fact that you work at least 54 hour weeks.

There are of course karaoke nights at either of the two bars on stations, and little era-based costume parties. You can go out! I went with some buddies to ski down a small mountain called Castle Rock, and you can climb Ob Hill whenever you'd like, it's right by station. There is also an active volcano there, which some get to helicopter up (I didn't) but I did get to snow machine to the base of it!

Here is the link to Castle rock, ob hill, and mount erebus (the active volcano near McMurdo in Antarctica) The first two are common climbed and visited sites off station. It's pretty dangerous to go most places that are not specifically marked to do so, due to crevasses and... death.

PS: I'm curious, how would know you know about Frosty Boy!

rokthemonkey1 karma

How does one go about getting a job like that?

buttgoblin_eater2 karma

You find whatever subcontractor you want to work for under Raytheon, who holds the current main contract. Most people I know started off in the kitchens, like I did, because it's kinda like 'putting your time in.' Then you come back in a better position the next season, and so on and so forth. It's one of the most taxing jobs on station, and people give the stewards mad kudos for it.

IceprincessOCN3 karma

Is there any way I can apply? What's the pay like?

buttgoblin_eater1 karma

Depends on what you do! I'm not sure how to apply anymore, but just look into the NSF and the USAP, simple google searches should yield some results. The pay varies greatly, depending on what you do. I got paid like...11 dollars an hour, but I worked 54 hour weeks, and didn't have to pay for housing or food at all. So it equals out, AND I had one of the lowest jobs on station. Just depends!

Bparker123211 karma

I have cleaning and general matnience expierience. How would I go about getting a job down there, and what other qualifications might I need to meet?

buttgoblin_eater2 karma

Eh, sounds like you're qualified! Raytheon held the contract when I was working there, but I don't know who has it now. I tried looking into and I couldn't figure it out. It's kinda difficult to find info on it, but it's there! But you'd want to start by looking at the USAP, or United States Antarctic Program.

humansftwarengineer1 karma

How is social life in Antarctica? I can imagine it must be quite weird to live in a country surrounded by barely anything anyone.

buttgoblin_eater2 karma

It's extremely strange. On a similar note, it's somewhat of a deprivation experiment. There's are no smells, no sights, no sounds, really nothing. It's a barren environment and very unforgiving. The social life is pretty active, and for the most part people enjoy to take part of social gatherings (there are quite a few down there) and do activities. There is a kiwi base about a mile away, called Scott base, and we are able to hang out with them from time to time. Most people I would say make some pretty strong bonds within the first month or so. But, due to the extreme environment and the lack of people, I feel like it was always a huge social experiment!