The N’Awlins Job


Boy, am I glad that’s over.

Last night marked the culmination of the hardest, longest, most strenuous stint to date since I started doing this whole travel-around-the-world-getting-my-ass-kicked thing.  8 out of 9 weeks in the field.  9 systems in 6 different cities in 5 different states in 2 different countries on 2 different continents.  Yeah.  And of course, fate (or my boss, depending on your perspective) saved the best for last.

The last two weeks started innocuously enough: an 8-hour cubicle day.  But then it got hairy; some shit done up and broke in Kansas.  So with 16 hours of notice, I flew to Kansas City on Tuesday morning and worked there that evening and the following day before arriving back in Denver late Wednesday night.

And the job in KC wasn’t a cold one…

Sunset and thunderhead from the plane

The sunset out the window during my flight home from Kansas City.

And then after a ridiculously short 8 hours at home, I took off for New Orleans bright and early on Thursday morning.

Sunrise on the eastern plains of Colorado

The sunrise the next morning on my way to the airport.

Then, after several hours of safety training and red tape bullshit, we started the N’Awlins job.  Our work here was on a hydrogen production furnace at a massive plant a ways outside of town.  The work was outside, which would have been fantastic news except for the whole July in the deep south thing.  It was hot, and it was humid, as one would expect.  Virtually every day was around 95 degrees, and the humidity wasn’t too far behind.  And, for the vast majority of the work, I could reach out and touch the furnace that housed a 1750 degree inferno.

shitty view of industrial crap

The rather breathtaking view from “The Reformer”

NASA rocket, New Orleans

The NASA plant just down the road from our job site… Apparently, they need hyrdogen and other assorted chemicals for like, going to the moon… One of the old rockets was sitting out front. My esteemed colleagues there show some perspective; thing wasn’t small.

This is how it starts… A shitload of crates…  Now, turn that into a fully functional laser measurement system.  And, go.

It was a big job, and an important one, so that meant leaving the hotel every morning at 7:00am.  Saturday and Sunday included.  I suppose, that should be plural, as this job enveloped each of the last two weekends.

Now technically we were in New Orleans.  I’d never been there before, so I was kind of excited about that.  But I soon came to realize that calling where I was staying “New Orleans” is sort of like calling New Jersey “New York City.”  We were in a pretty rough part of town which showed more than a little of the lingering effects from Katrina.  We were told by more than one person at the plant that it might be a good idea to stay in our hotel after dark.  As you can see, I’m a bit hard of hearing.

Bullard Avenue Brother's Shell Station New Orleans

You know you’re in a good part of town when the Shell Station is the place to be.

Most nights, I was too damn tired to go out for dinner, so I left my coworkers to their own devices and ordered in to the hotel room, but on a few occasions we took the drive into the city and walked around the French Quarter  and got us some pretty good food.  All bullshit aside, them southerners know to eat.  As per usual, didn’t really have time to take in the sights and sounds as much as one would like, but, I did get to see it…

Street band, New Orleans

Definitely, definitely in New Orleans

Mercifully, the end of the 153.5 hour, two-week pay period came to end last night, and I’ve got some serious couch and cubicle time ahead of me.  And holy shit, is it good to be home…  I’m worn out.  It’s hard, if not impossible, to describe the amount of physical exhaustion, the bumps, bruises, sore muscles and back aches, that accumulates over such a job, and over such a long stretch of work.

My sweaty ass

Getting ‘cleaned up’ for my flight home yesterday. Unless you’ve done it, it’s impossible to know how much one sweats in this kind of environment.

But, I earned a whole shitload of money, and it’s behind me now.  And turns out that the weather in Colorado is just a touch nicer than that of the deep south.  So there’s that.  And, my frequent flier miles just booked Ms. Müller a flight over here from Germany, and I couldn’t possibly be any more excited about that.  But, I suppose that’s another story for another day…

So, if you’ll excuse me, I believe I’ll take a nap.  Come back soon.

-B. Littleton

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Filed under The Road, The Sights of the Good Ol' US of A, The Work

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