Locals were hired to do the grunt work on the helipad. They rolled fuel drums around, tipped them up and down, pumped the fuel and generally kept the pads free of the detritus of the camp. We prized the good workers, of course. The not-so-good had to be re-trained almost every day on how to open a fuel drum – not an entirely complicated task. I figured they were playing games, but what could I do? We were contributing to the local economy by creating jobs.
I always tried to praise the better workers on the helipad and thank them for doing such a great job. I figured that if I was in that same position, I’d like to get a little feedback for the job I did, menial as it was. They were making a contribution to the flight operation by doing all the heavy lifting for us. Back in Canada I rarely had anyone to lift fuel drums for me, and so I let my appreciation be known to these guys.
Revolution in the camp
The pilot-who-wasn’t took it upon himself to pay the better workers out of his own pocket for their contribution to the smooth running of his helipad operation. It didn’t take long before the slackers learned about the surplus of shillings being flung about the helipad. They demanded that they be rewarded as well, even though their performance was subpar. What was obvious to them was that they were doing exactly the same job as everyone else – even though they didn’t do it very well – and they should be rewarded just like the reliable workers.
The poor camp boss had a revolution on his hands for a couple of days, but he finally got it resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. That was the end of payment for better services. What he did to quiet the lads down is unknown, but the pilot-that-wasn’t that came up with that idea ended up being suitably chastised.