Antarctica Dispatch

Journal of my Antarctic experience working to support the United States Antarctic Program.

Dish Pit


I thought my days as a substitute Dining Attendant (DA) were numbered after leaving the South Pole. You'll probably find the most educated people working as DAs or janitors down here. There's not much work for people with a PhD in Literature in Antarctica, so if they want to experience it by working down here then sometimes the most unsatisfying jobs are about the only way to get a foot in the door. Here's one site I found about one person's experience as a DA - Antarctica Diary.

Don't get me wrong, someone has to clean the pots, pans, dishes, etc. I did it last year. Because of it's size McMurdo has more DAs and janitors, but this year with the reduced population to save $$, we only have 2 janitors and 1 'Lead' DA so everyone's taking a 4 hour rotation in the 'dish pit' every month. This is much better than at the Pole where we were assigned the whole day, but then wisely divided our shifts with other people so it wouldn't be so long.

At the Pole it was expected that everyone helped with cleaning the station and working in the dish room. For some it was a day off of their regular work, but if something went wrong with the Network, there was only one person to fix it - me. After a grueling day in the Dish Pit, I was physically exhausted. I'd be hard pressed to do it day in and day out. One guy during the summer down here made a video for the Film Festival. It showed someone waking up, dressing, going to work in the dish room, going back back to the room, undressing, and going to bed. Quite sad.

Still I think it helps us all appreciate what it takes to feed us, and in that sense makes us a bit equal. Some people would say it's an expensive waste of human resources such as having a medical doctor doing dishes.

Here's the job posting for this marvelous position:

Dining Room Attendant

Raytheon Polar Services – Experience Antarctica

Seeking a unique adventure as well as employment? How would you like to be one of the few people on the planet to have the opportunity to live and work at or near the geographic South Pole? Raytheon Polar Services is the primary contractor for the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) U.S. Antarctic Program. We are currently looking for Dining Room Attendants to deploy to McMurdo, South Pole or Palmer Antarctic research stations for various periods of time.


Responsible for providing customer service and performing duties that support efforts to produce and serve high quality food.

Displays a commitment to providing exceptional customer service, as outlined by the Supervisor, Food Service.

Performs daily tasking in an efficient and thorough manner, as instructed by Dining Room Attendant, Lead.

Stocks/replenishes all ancillary food items and non-food items, as detailed by tasking sheet, during and between meal hours; monitor quantities of items used and adjust stock levels according to usage.

Responsible for preparing and chilling sufficient beverages and frozen dessert mixes to support usage by the community.

Coordinates with Cooks to ensure timely transfer and scraping of dirty pots to pot-washing area.

Able to work in a team unit composed of diverse personalities.

Displays self-motivation in physically challenging and atypical work environment.

Performs other duties as required.


Education: A minimum of a High school education or equivalent.

Experience: A minimum of six months food service waitstaff and/or bussing.


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