Its time again to return to that topic that has become the theme of this blog for the better part of the last three years. Work. Today I finished a contract that kept me busy all through October and November. It was hard tiring labour. The pay was the best I had since I started temping. There were a few bad days there, when I felt the depression trying to bite me and drag me down. The end was better than the beginning, when I started I was bummed out from having the last contract end, and irritated that I was being reduced to a human forklift. Eight weeks later and having watched countless temps get sent home I made to the end of the project. The wing of the building effected by the fire and flood when from sodden furniture and personal effects to chaos of cut up drywall and busted up concrete. When I left the work was far from done but the walls were bare studs, the floor dusty plywood, the rebuilding could start. The rebuilding does not need unskilled grunts, like I was hired to be.
The hate, and bad moods became less as I got distant from my previous contract. As hard as the work was, it was the best rate the agent could get me and I was determined to keep at it till the very end. There were a few simple things I did to get keep me there. Start work on time, keep busy, thinking a step ahead. The mood improved, as I became a steady part of a crew, some of the camaraderie I was missing returned. The uncertainty shifted from will I be asked to come in again to when will the work be done. It was not a job that could last for long, demolition is a finite process. As the work shifted though several phases of clean up I had had many chances to think about what I hated, liked(not much) and things that did not bother me.
What I hated. It was dull. Most of the time was spent moving spent building materials and occasional non recoverable content from one place to a dumpster. Shovelling concrete is hard, too many jarring motions and impacts aggravated irritations gained from my first field job. Things hurt, elbows and wrists, too much brute force, and no easy way to avoid it. It was often cold and wet. Though for my own good I did not much enjoy the respirator and Tyvek suit I had to ware to protect me from mould, dust, and lead. At first I did not like the atmosphere, the early mornings, and large impatient men crowding around a coffee source reminded me of camp mornings in the North West Territory, at time I would rather not think about. The crowds thinned and I grew more comfortable with the people. Did I ever like it, not not really. It was work you do it because it needs done, you don't complain because what's the point, and eventually the job is done.
So about the odd category. Thinks I did not mind. Some things make a job unbearable, evening shift, micromanagement, being out of town for weeks. These things will drive me away. Some things make a job attractive and I will go into those more later. In between are the things I take in stride because well thats how I roll. At least at the hight of a low rise building I am cool with being on scaffolding. Cold, wet, and cold and wet weather, sure I don't like working in them but gear can be adjusted meet the conditions and you motor through it. Hard labour, so long as I minimize the impact loads on my arm joints I don't mind and my body likes to be moving. After spending years in rough, potentially dangerous places, I guess I am used to it. As I said yesterday I have an easier time fitting in around rednecks than I do office drones.
Now for the new territory. And to get somethings off my chest. I am tired of being a temp. Deeply tired. No security, no vacations, no benefits, no long term planning, just solving the problem of work for a week or months at a time. There is frustration and anger at the failure of this to have yielded a permanent position. Though that is a bit of a lie as most places I was happy to leave, they were not where I would want to end up. The experiment is not a failure, much has been learned, both at work and about what I want out of work. Every job has fuelled thought, this has evolved into a list. The list would have turned into a plan and action had I not rushed into more work at the start of October. Here then is the list things I need from work.
- Working with my hands is important, I like problem solving in physical systems. Its fun to build a thing and see it work.
- Learning, the field must have many layers of things to learn. I don't want to level off soon.
- Uncoupled from geography. My geology career forced me to go to the work. My GIS job searches have shown work is in only a handful of places. I want work that is available in many places.
- Similarly I don't want another obscure specialty. I need something that the average person will think, yes that's a mostly normal job. And common enough that when I get laid off there are a healthy number of places that need the same kind of work done.
- The option to work a lone but not isolated.
- Insulated from direct dealings with customers. Or infrequent engagements.
It is not really a question any more of if, but which. To get there I have to, research, what's popular, what's well distributed, talk to people who know such things better than I. Find training money, find work placements. And get on with having real work and planning.