Well, after another long day at the power plant, and on the long drive home from the power plant, I was wracking my mind for something, anything to write a post about. Nothing came to mind. Same thing happened last night so I copped out and threw up some mediocre cell phone pictures instead; the night before that I wrote a mediocre post and included some pedestrian pictures of Bismarck.
I normally like my blog posts. I enjoy going back and reading the post from the night before, or checking out the pictures. I guess it’s the English major in me, but I enjoy writing, and reading, and generally like my work. Not the past few days. I came damn close to deleting the ‘Welcome to Bismarck’ post due to the fact that it’s entirely unremarkable.
Well it hit me tonight at dinner. It’s not me, it’s Bismarck. I went a little farther back and read some past posts about little towns in Germany, enjoyed the pictures I put up about Colorado, and in general, didn’t hate my stuff. It’s not that the past few posts have been moderately boring at best. It’s that the subject, this job in Bismarck, has been moderately boring at best. This place, this hotel, this town, this job, this daily routine is exactly why I titled my blog what I did.
This is the utterly unromantic side of the travel job. The past few months I’ve been to Europe a handful of times, and seen a fair amount of shit that was quite, well, remarkable. My current sojourn in Bismarck is more like what the job was like for my first 3 years before our German stuff blew up. My routine here is: wake up, fast food breakfast, hour drive to work, work all day with a break for lunch, hour drive home, dinner at a chain restaurant, a beer or three in the hotel lounge, go to bed, repeat six times. It’s astonishingly dull.
The fact that we’re so far out in the boonies for this gig makes it even worse. We put in at least 10 hours a day at the plant, and with a bit over a two-hour round trip commute, it’s meant leaving at 6:30 in the AM and getting home around 7:00. Power plants are still hot and dirty, so the first order of business upon returning home is showering and changing out of my work fatigues. I sneak in a few minutes in the mediocre-at-best “fitness” room (it’s a treadmill and a really dilapidated home gym system) and by then it’s approaching 8:00 and it’s dinner time. We head out for a bite to eat and get home around 9:30, nine hours before I have to leave the next morning for work. Maybe two hours a night is all I get to myself.
This is the kind of job that makes me tell people they’re crazy for envying my lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong, it has its perks. The free flights and hotel rooms are fantastic. In fact I’m heading to Miami in less than a week for my best friend’s wedding, and the ticket cost me 5 dollars; less than my fast food breakfasts. The times I get paid good money to spend four hours sitting in a crazy comfortable business class seat while sipping free glasses of wine are pretty bad-ass as well. Getting to stand on the Eiffel tower was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
But for every one of those little benefits, there are a good number of nights like tonight, and plenty of weeks like this week. For every trip to Europe there are a dozen trips to Muleshoe, Texas or equivalent. For every time I’ve shared a few drinks with new friends while strolling along the Rhine River, there are countless nights sipping a Fat Tire alone in the Comfort Inn in Bismarck. For every remarkable experience where I feel like I’m living life to the fullest, there are an undeniably trying number of remarkably unremarkable nights where I feel like my twenties are slipping away like a fistful of sand.
So here’s to getting my shit done and getting the shit out of this shithole town. Here’s to the next once-in-a-lifetime experience. With any luck it’ll be next week.