It’s been a question in my mind for many days now. I harp on it a lot, and I’m sorry to burden you, but it just makes me so angry when things don’t work properly. Check that, I’m already angry, this just keeps hammering it home. We are staying in a camp that reportedly cost over $8000000 to get set up. It’s a lovely camp, as far as camps go; brand new, food is good, and lots of pretty girls. The problem with it is that the internet and phone service are intermittent, and sketchy, even when they are working. So far I’ve been lucky, and have been able to use my phone as a wireless hotspot for my laptop, but now the cell tower doesn’t want to work either. I have no access to the phone or internet right now, so I’m pecking this into Word, and I’ll upload it as soon as I can. The fact that you’re reading it right now means I was successful, and deserve some sort of a reward. I just don’t understand why you would spend that kind of money on a mediocre camp, and not plan for a proper communications set up. I don’t think it would up your mortgage rate by much. I’ll check the mortgage calculator on realtor.ca. Oh wait, I don’t have any internet, so you’ll be in the dark until you can check for yourself. When you get a chance, check the mortgage rate for $8000000 and also for $8200000. I’m going high on that, because I want that shit hardwired into the camp as well, just so there’s no messing around. I don’t know what it costs for subsistence for us, but I’m going to lowball it at $175/day. I believe it’s more like $250, but we’ll go with the bulk price because it’ll sleep 410 peeps, and does so regularly.
Now look at it from the worker’s perspective. We are far from our families, so we need to have a means of communication that we can easily use to reach them. I’ve mentioned before that we used to have to drive from a lot of camps to find service, and that was fine then, but with the technology today, there is no excuse for not having a cell booster and satellite internet. It’s relatively cheap to set up, and to maintain as well. I don’t mean cheap like $50 a month, but probably $1000 or so, depending on the bandwith and how far you want to go with it. At the Nexxen camp I was in a few years ago, the internet was slow like it is here, but you had to walk to the main area to get signal. The Snake River Imperial camp that we were at before xmas break, had awesome internet for a camp. You could Skype most of the time, sometimes when it was really busy, you’d get booted and a lag, but at least you could check to make sure there were no hickies on your baby’s neck. This time around, we aren’t so fortunate. We are working for a lesser company in all respects, right from the camp, to the environment. I guess you take the good with the bad, but the bad doesn’t make it worth being here. We keep getting shut down because there is a lack of material being produced in the pit, and normally that wouldn’t matter, but here we only get eight hours standby pay. That means that we come and live in camp, are ready and willing to work each day, but if there is no work, or not much work, they only pay us for eight hours. That means that you lose four hours of pay for that day, and they are four overtime hours. It adds up to about $160 a day less than we’d be making on a different job.
It’s not even the odd day, or it wouldn’t be so bad, but it’s been five out of nine days now, and tomorrow we have a safety stand down, so there’s one more for the stats. I was going to just leave to prove my point, but seeing as there’s only 5 work days left for me, there would be no point. Plus I would look like more of a whiny loser than I already do, and I don’t need to add “walked off job” to my resume. The good thing, is that I know I’m not leaving my lady like this again, so I hopefully never have to make the choice, but I sure won’t be recommending this place to any of my friends that are coming out here. The reason most people do these jobs is for the overtime, so if you aren’t guaranteed the hours, why trek off into the bush for an undetermined amount of time? It needs to be worth your while to take this leap, because of all the variables when working here, or else why would you incur the financial risk of doing it?
Even though it’s been a much slower year than usual, Chin has done pretty well when it comes to working. We were only waiting a little bit in comparison to some people, or myself really. When I first came here, I lived on some friends couch, in a motel, and in Maples Court. I was so broke that I had to go to Employment Connections to print off my six free resumes a day, and walk them around town in -30C, because I didn’t have the cash to spare for a cab. The shitty thing about that was how spread out the companies are, and how I would walk at least three miles a day, just dropping off resumes. I did that for weeks, until I got four nights work on a dump truck. That put a thousand bucks cash in my pocket, and afforded me a little more time. I had literally spent the last of my money on a movie for my birthday, and I had a loaf of bread and a jar of Cheez Whiz waiting in my room at Maples Court. It’s like an old camp in town, and you have a fridge in your room, but you cook in a community kitchen. The walls are wood panelling and the carpets are old and gross, but what set it apart was the tenants. It was mostly rummies and welfare cases, and there were at least two brawls over tv watching, in the three nights I spent there. That was eleven years ago, and I sure hope they’ve done some updating since then.
Last year was an exception to the rule, because I drove into town at 4:30 in the afternoon, and I was working at 6:00 the next morning. At the end of the year, I got done work, went to Johnny and Leona’s for a visit and a sleep, got up and drove to Medicine Hat to get my drink on with my buddy Jay, and from there I drove home in a straight shot, and with a hangover. I tried to meet up with my old pal Brenda, who was at a conference in Kenora, but it was late at night, and I couldn’t wait around, so I just kept going. That was the time that I surprise fake proposed to Mrs. Birdman, and learned pretty quick that fake proposing is never as funny as it seems.
Now she’s with one of my good time buddies, they’re drinking in some crosstown bar,