Monday, April 7, 2014


My mother requested I write this.

After both a delay in starting the process and similar length delay in results I have started doing Temp work.  After a month on one agency's roster, I got called in on a warehouse gig on short notice, after a couple weeks of moderately steady work I have a few more thoughts on the subject.  It was suggested that I should write about how different this work is, from what I had done, the striking thing has been how different it is not.

Early Train to Richmond. 
As it turns out the office that started three years ago was the outlier.  Jobs in rough places with rough people have been more my style than not.  The majority of the gigs I have been assigned to have been in warehouses, a setting not unlike where I spent much of my time in geology.  Industrial spaces with concrete floors, corrugated steel shipping boxes and people who's most frequent word is FUCK.  As was the case when I worked geology I move awkward boxes from one pile to the other.   I do skip the part where I break open the box and take sciency measurements of the contents, a process I don't miss. Nor do I miss the weight and dimensions of standard NQ Core Box. The NQ sized core box is 5 feet long, 1 foot wide and can contain between 30 and 70 pounds of rock. As an added bonus they are made of plywood, and are often greasy and or wet.  So after a few years of shlepping those at any thing from -35 to +30 degrees a simple cardboard box is a near pleasure.

In the coarse of three weeks I have worked for, a clothing distribution warehouse, a garden centre, a restaurant supply warehouse, a large scale shipping centre, and the aquarium.  Four of the five followed the pattern of take boxes out of trucks stack on the correct pallet, repeat.  The aquarium gig was a job of making sure things were not sticky.  These jobs are united in their need for the people doing them to have the same basic qualities, bipedalism, arms, and semiliteracy.  Clearly I am bringing enough of those to the table because more than one place has asked for me back, even if I have only had repeat gigs at one place.  In doing these things I rediscovered the things I learned when I was not looking.

Years ago during another period of unemployment, in the gap years when I fell out of university I did a day job in a garage door facility.  It involved you guessed it moving things from one pile to another.  This was before I had worked in a kitchen, and years before I would work in the field, back then I had hardly worked before.  On that job it was hard for me to stay out of harms way, let alone be productive.  Now things are different, I am not 20 any more.

Its sneaky, you spend years working in out of the way places doing jobs that demand specialized knowledge and occasionally helicopters, and while you may be planing to learn about the rock of the area, the helicopter is ready to teach you a few things too.  I have forgotten too much about rocks but much of what I learned around helicopters, drills, and other big moving bits of metal has stuck with me.  The intangible skill of situational awareness, it was learned, when I doing other things.  Scraps of bush craft, the skill of pacing yourself, listening for the machines you want to avoid, these are the the things I learned when I was out.   So now I find myself in warehouses, a setting I have never worked in before and while I may not know how any one place works, I have a solid idea of what to watch for.

A few other notes. I never got the rhythm of office work.  The environment was new to me, I have still to learn what to watch for.  The current batch of labour jobs are delightful because they don't follow me home.  Between the jobs and the pool I am slowly getting back into shape.  I am enjoying the access to feed back that working with the agency is providing.  It is prompt and clear.  As an alternative to wondering and assuming the worst it is a grand improvement over several jobs I have held.

As it stands for a mix of reasons I would be unlikely to take, or apply for a full time work with any of the places I have contracted with.  The best reason I will give here is I hope to try more things out before settling. It is also worth noting that upon closer retrospection not every one I have worked with was particularly nice, and I could find a crew I mesh better with.  Lastly I am not yet of the habit of making the best use of my down time.

I really should be writing in the mornings.  There is a window between 7am and 10am when I am up, and the agency is unlikely to call me.  Currently this time has been wasted. It has taken two weeks to get this entry started and it feels incomplete.  But I have  been working, and with that gaining some new vision.  If nothing else I will need to bring in some new money, I am almost finished breaking the vertical blinds in the living room and want to get a budget drape for a replacement.

A sunny friday afternoon. 


Nienke van Houten said...

That has to be the most optimistic post I have seen in a while!

Ien in the Kootenays said...

YES. Great observations. It is all grist for the mill. Settling in to write could be hard to do while you are waiting for a call. On the other hand, if you can produce the discipline it would be great. Ha. Looks who's talking.