January 21st 2015
NEW CORVO, AREMIS, VEGA – For three days every year, the spotlight shines bright on a part of everyday life that we may not normally consider that glamorous: cargo loading. This Friday marks the 15th annual Cargo Handler’s Association Cargolympics.
The event, staged for the 5th year in a row at the beautiful New Corvo bayside Port Authority Center, is a triumphant celebration of all things cargo and cargo related. What was once a friendly competition between a few landing zone workers has blossomed over the years into a not-to-be-missed event attended by over 200,000 live spectators, in addition to close to a million spectrum viewers tuning in from every corner of Vega.
“Seeing hardworking people getting the chance to show off what they do day in and day out is something truly spectacular, and I think something that we can all cheer for,” commented Grigo Chay, CEO of Stor-All, the most recent company to join the growing list of Cargolympics corporate sponsors. “I thought I knew everything our line of quality storage containers could do, but watching Terri [Santos] stack 57 of our Model A’s on top of each other in under a minute last year, well, that was something else. I cannot wait to see what records are broken this year.”
Stor-All will be joining with longtime sponsor Torreele Foodstuffs to present the music- and pyrotechnic-filled opening spectacular, titled “Full Haul, Full Heart” and presided over by celebrity artist Ellroy Cass. In addition, this year’s ceremonial items, representing the virtues of courage, strength and speed, will be revealed alongside the three school children who submitted them to C.H.A.’s selection committee. The items will be loaded into the Golden Crate while the Aremis Militia Marching Band performs a stirring rendition of “Vega for All.”
With last year’s record-breaking title-holder Terri Santos retiring, many have begun speculating who will become this year’s reigning Cargo Champ. With representatives from 6 systems competing in over 25 events, the field of competition has grown wider than ever before, with special attention being paid to the longstanding rivalry between New Corvo and nearby Titus. Will this finally be the year when Titus gets payback for the staggering Raw Materials Relay defeat they suffered at the 2939 games, or will hometown favorite Nella Tweed be able to lead her team to another victory?
Nella Tweed, 41, has participated in the Cargolympics since they began and says her best years are still ahead. “I’ve been working at The Parking Lot [a local landing zone] for as long as I can remember, and even back before the games were really a thing, me and the crew use to push each other to see who could pull cargo the fastest, who could fit an extra SCU into a hold, who could knock over a stack of pods with a single grav-lift. That last one was off the clock of course. It was a way to make the days go by faster, a way to have some pride in what we were doing, but now, to be honest, sometimes I think of the job more as training for the games really than anything else.”
It is easy to see why, in a profession filled with rush orders, impatient captains and angry traders, the Cargolympics have come to mean so much. Too often cargo handlers are treated no better than the mech loading arms they toil beside, but for these three days a year we get to honor these hardworking individuals and show that we appreciate their unique skills and talents.
“When you’re dealing with cargo containers and pods of different sizes, containing various weights and hazardous materials, it can be a real challenge to not only fit everything aboard a ship but add on top of that making sure that it can be properly accessed, and then easily unloaded at its final destination? That’s not the easiest thing. Face it,” says C.H.A. president Blaine Hadley, “this is a skilled job, and I for one am glad that we get to not only show the ’Verse just how skilled, but we get to have a heck of a lot of fun in the process.”