I have chosen to write about the fishing occupation. Since there is a huge difference from fishermen on the coast of Mexico and one on a huge fishing boat far out on the cold seas of the Bering Sea, I narrowed it down to the last mentioned (fishermen on big boats being out to seas for months). Let’s begin with building up a picture of the classic fisherman. If you are familiar with the series “the deadliest catch” on Discovery channel you would know the stereotypic view of the proud fisherman, but if you are not up after eleven I’m going to explain.
The fishermen I have focused on are fishermen living on catching crabs, since there are only two seasons on Discovery channel, one in October and one in January.
These men are spending weeks on the seas, having little sleep, working in blistering cold rain, having a risky job (Alaskan crab fishing is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world). The fishermen earn as much as they bring in, so if they get a good catch the fishermen will earn enough to survive to next season, but if they get a bad catch they might not make it till next season. A stressful life you might say.
“The deadliest catch” shows the high-risk job of the crew on 24 different boats on the harsh Bering sea. They shot the ups and downs of the seasons, the good catch where everyone walks away with wallets filled to the brim, the bad catch where the workers travel home with pockets empty. They also shot the deadly storms that smash the deck and kills the crabs already caught (the boat got be steady or else the crab will smash into each other and die, and you won’t get paid for dead crabs) and the clear days that drives the fishermen insane (one of the most hated color among the fishermen is light gray).
The show gives you a sight on the fishermen as hardworking, proud and honest. Putting them in danger to give their families a good life, but also gives a view of the fishermen as jolly and playful workers. We also got a series of films as “The perfect storm” and “Jason Bourne”, but there is not much about their work ethics and life on board the boat.
How realistic is this description of the average fisherman? Well, I doubt that he is as rough as the films and series make them look like. Of course they need to be tough to be able to make it at sea for that long, but the show does give a little too rough picture of the men working on these boats (if it were as hectic and dangerous as it seems they wouldn‘t need to film 24 boats to get enough clips for a season). We get a view of the fishermen as adventurous and brave, and that might have some truth behind it, but they travel back to the same spots each season so I doubt they get that much adventure. When it comes to bravery I think that depends, but I think cowards steer away from this occupation (I get this image of pirates living the sweet life, but that might just be me). I also get the feeling that the average fishermen is a family man, leaving with tears in his eyes when going out to sea to feed his family. Some of them might be like that, but you got to have some special connection to the sea to travel out there for weeks on end.
Some of them seem a little special. Since I don’t like the sea that much I would also call them slightly insane, but they also seem like a jolly crowd to be around. Joking with each other and sticking together during the trips, you might say that they are more like a big family then friends.
I did mix in some of my opinions in the description, but let’s hope it’s not too much influenced by my thoughts. Let’s begin with toughness. For how though is really a fisherman? I think he is rough on the outside but much softer on the inside, not being able to complain (knowing that it won’t get him home faster nor will it make the other crew members more happy). It is also a masculine occupation so they might feel the need to live up to that image. I also think they love their jobs, because making it on that boat for that long is not for someone that doesn’t like to be out at sea. And when you love your job you don`t go around saying it`s hard, so people might think you are tougher then you really are (just as if you saw a man bathing in an ice bath, you might think “tough guy”, but he might just love it and therefore seem rough).
Next up is bravery and lust for adventure. I think they are really brave having such a hard job, but that might just be because I don’t like the sea that much. Some of the fishermen might seek adventure in the beginning, but I think it is more about freedom than finding adventure.
A family man? Well, what can I say? Family men are in all shapes and forms so you can’t pick one group of occupations and say “that’s an occupation for family men”, so I don’t link being a good father and an occupation together (even though it might not be good for the child to be away from his dad for weeks).
I think you got to be a mad to work at sea, but it’s also a good kind of mad (a little insanity always creates people who are fun to be around). Being able to joke with each other and to have fun is important when you`re you’re locked on a boat for weeks with other people. You might need that extra little action to have fun when you’re not working.
So I think they have “pirate spirit” (Being jolly, tell old tales, you name it). I would have loved to stay around them to learn from them, but since I don’t find the ocean that luring I try to stay away from it.