If it wasn’t a job they wouldn’t pay me to do it…

I have quite the love/hate relationship with my job.  Just the work, I’m not talking about the travel here.  Yet.  For the most part, when I’m not actively trying to fix shit in boiling temperatures or banging my head against the wall in our lovely Monday morning service meetings, I love what I do.  Now one should always account for the biases of the author, and I’m writing this on my lunch break on day one of a 2-week trip to Germany.  So far work is playing nice, I’m in the cooler of the two plants I’ll visit this trip (a brisk 110 where I’m working) and the stresses of spending a good chunk of time alone in a foreign country are as of yet still overshadowed by the fact that it’s bad ass that I’m getting paid to take an all-expenses-paid trip to Europe.  I’m sure I’ll spew some hate before it’s all said and done, but for now…

There’s something oddly serene about working on boilers.  There’s typically about 90 db worth of noise pollution (that’s a rock concert amount of noise), clouds of fly ash and coal dust, and anything under 120 deg F is downright comfortable.  Doesn’t sound horribly serene does it?  However the benefit of working in such ridiculous conditions is that no one else, and I mean no one else, lingers in the annals of the plant where I set up shop.  The occasional over-paid and under-worked unionized plant operator wanders by to have a glance at some malfunctioning piece of equipment, or to throw on a face-shield and have a peek into the 2500 degree boiler through one of the many observation ports.  However these guys generally wander off before they have a chance to start sweating, and I’m once again left to my own devices.

I have a list of shit to do, and, if I’ve done my planning correctly, most of the shit I need to do it.  I listen to music, put my head down and go.  I arrive in the morning when I feel like it, I take breaks when I feel like it, I get lunch when I feel like it, and I go home when I feel like it.  I still work long and hard, but I get to do it on my terms, and I consider myself incredibly lucky to have that luxury.  My boss is hundreds, if not thousands of miles away from me, so even if I fuck up the worst I’ll get is a nasty email, and those are generally an oh-shit-I-forgot-to-check-my-email-last-night away from being a non-issue.  If the list gets done, and our little system is chugging away, I can do no wrong.  That’s a lucky fucking break for me, as I have a healthy distaste for authority and a mouth to match it.  But turns out most people won’t leave for God-knows-where with less than 24 hours notice, let alone work where it’s hot enough to roast a small turkey; so I get my shit done and they leave me alone.  Of course when I finally do go home for the evening (sadly, I’ve been referring to the Comfort Inn du jour as ‘home’ for years now) I get 50 bucks to spend on dinner.  Usually works out to a good-sized steak and three or four cocktails at the local steak house.  So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

This shit is definitely an acquired taste, and it’s certainly not for everyone.  Recently, during the interview process, our head of HR asked me what a candidate needed to be successful at this gig.  My response was something like this: ‘A screw loose, a diminished self-preservation instinct, and not having a wife and kids wouldn’t hurt.’  Turns out I fit that bill, and I guess I was right because as far as I’m concerned, I’ll take the noise, and heat, and ash over spreadsheets, and emails, and schedules, and some dude with an MBA from Yale telling me how to draft a sales pitch, or whatever people do in their cubicles…

– B. Littleton


Filed under The Work

2 responses to “If it wasn’t a job they wouldn’t pay me to do it…

  1. interesting

    im actually super impressed. by what you do, what you said, and how you said it. English Majors make good bloggers here in 2011…

  2. awww, thanks man. That means a lot.

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