Tag Archives: work

The Doncaster Blues

Yes, yes.  It’s been a long time.  Better than a month since I last published a new post for you.  Even the Facebook page has been conspicuous in its absence.  Well, I’m back, for the time being anyway.

Not to make excuses for the dead air, but here’s all my excuses for the dead air…  I’ve been getting my ass kicked.  I wrote you last from the middle of nowhere in Pennsylvania.  Now I’m in the middle of nowhere in England.  Doncaster to be exact.  I had all of 3 days off last month, and I spent 2 of those days getting ready for my current 5-week stay in Nottinghamshire (I shit you not, I can actually see Robin Hood Airport from where I’m sitting), and the other was spent washing my clothes in an absolute hole of a laundrette in town.

The work has been tricky, even more so than normal because this entire project has been incredibly rushed to meet a rather arbitrary deadline given to us by our customer.  But the work is always tricky for one reason or another.

However, I think we can attribute most of this shit to the fact that my little corner of central England is absolutely atrocious place to spend 5 weeks of one’s life.  One thing I’ve learned from my travels is that if the locals call a place a shithole, a shithole it is.  If there are any redeeming characteristics about a town, the people that live there will sing their praises; it’s a matter of pride.  When pride has been forsaken by the residents themselves, you’re in for a rough stay.

Around here, pride has been forsaken by the residents themselves, and turns out they’re right.  The weather sucks.  A lot.  Cold and rainy and gray and shitty and sad.  And our hotel is in the boonies.  15 minutes from the closest restaurant, and there’s nary a proper pub for miles.  We’re at some little airport that’s a ways from town, the shitty town that it is, and better than 40 minutes to our worksite (a product of trying to book a 35-night stay on 4 days’ notice).  I spent my 3rd straight Halloween, and my 3rd straight birthday out of the country.  It just hasn’t been a pleasant trip.  And I’m better than 2 weeks in, and I’m maybe, maybe, halfway done.

Oh, and they drive on the wrong side of the road around here, and the steering wheel is on the wrong side of the car.  That doesn’t sound like much but it’s stressful as shit.  The mirrors are on the wrong sides, cars come from the opposite direction, roundabouts go the wrong way, and there are about a million of them.  It’s tough.

And to be completely honest about it, to use what is apparently a quite popular parlance of the British, I wasn’t handling it very well.  It’s easy to start feeling sorry for yourself on a trip like this.  And I’ve been pouting.

But, I got just what I needed.  Ms. Müller, being as crazy and awesome as she is, actually flew from Dusseldorf to Leeds (the closest city of any substance) to spend my birthday weekend with me out here.  It was delightful.  Actually, it was a really boring and crappy weekend in a really boring and crappy place.  But, I had company, really good company, and it helped a lot.

This won’t be the first time I’ve sung this particular tune, but I suppose I’ll sing it again.  As far as I know, I should only have a couple of weeks left on the road before I start my preparations for the move to Germany.  I already have an apartment out there, so with or without the Company To Be Named Later my ass is gone in a month or two.  So I just need to do my best to handle the next couple of weeks with a touch of grace and a shred of dignity.

That means actually posting on a halfway regular basis instead of drinking my nights away at the bar.  Or at least combining the two.  I already had a few posts on the docket from a while back.  I’ve got a couple leftovers from PA, and a new post from beautiful Doncaster.  Anywho, I’m off to get a bite and call it a night.  Come back soon, and I’ll try to do the same.

Don’t be a stranger.

-B. Littleton

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Back To Western PA

Welp…  back to reality.

And by reality, I do of course mean power plants in random little towns.  My German vacation is but a distant memory, and I once again find myself lonely and marooned in a tiny town where I know no one and nothing about the place.  This time it’s East Liverpool, Ohio, which strangely enough is a few thousand miles west of real Liverpool…  Go figure.

The jobsite this trip is the Mansfield station, located about 10 miles down the road and across the state line in the overgrown intersection of Shippingsport, PA.  It’s not all bad.  As I said in my last post, it’s probably better for me to have something to keep myself busy, and I’ve found myself pleasantly surprised by my surroundings.

Don’t get me wrong, the town sucks; it’s a tiny town, and it’s sort of a shop-at-Dollar-General-and-get-dinner-at-McDonald’s kind of place.  But the leaves are changing around here, and that’s absolutely gorgeous.  I miss the aspens of Colorado, but all the maples and such are turning pretty shades of red and orange and shit, so there’s that.  I’m hoping at some point this weekend I’ll get a chance to explore a bit and take some pictures….

And I actually drew the long straw for a change.  I was put on this assignment after about 90% of the work had been completed.  So with any luck I’ll just have to put the finishing touches on our lasery-measurey-thingy, give some training and get out of Dodge.

Anywho, here’s a cell-phone picture or 3 from my travel day out here and work today.  Some interesting stuff…

Come back soon for more exciting tales from Western PA…

Don’t be a stranger.

-B. Litteton


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

Welp, Here We Go Again

It’s been a helluva few days.  Here’s the Reader’s Digest version:

On Sunday Ms. Müller and I left her little village a bit before noon and she drove me a couple of hours south to Frankfurt for my flight home.  We got there a little early and spent some time wandering around the airport and doing our best to delay the inevitable.  After a meal, a beer and yet another difficult goodbye I made my way through security.  I took my standard pre-transatlantic flight regimen of Jaeger and ambien and did my best to sleep my way to Washington DC.

Departure Board at Frankfurt Airport

Well, one of these is mine, unfortunately…

My flight to Dulles was delayed by about an hour which effectively cut my layover in half.  That might not sound so bad, but in the midst of a 20+ hour travel day, getting a chance to sit down and have a decent meal and a beverage or three is a nice little break.  Not to mention I know a little spot there that actually has Fat Tire on draft.  But no such luck.  Instead, after blearily clearing customs, retrieving my luggage from Frankfurt, re-checking my luggage to Denver, and going through security again (despite the fact that all I’d done since the last checkpoint was sit on an airplane for around 11 hours; it’s a ridiculous little circus one has to go through), I had only about 15 minutes to get to my gate for the next leg of the journey.

A few minutes after taking my seat, the captain got on the horn and made the ever-popular announcement that there were some technical issues with fueling the plane.  But, we needn’t worry as they were attempting to use “an alternate method” to get the plane fueled correctly and get us on our way.  Predictably, after an hour or so of unsuccessfully attempting to siphon some gas from the American Airlines plane at the next gate, or whatever the hell they were doing, they told us we’d need to switch planes.

By this time it was almost midnight local, so once again an actual meal was out of the question.  So a bag of trail mix, a walk through the terminal and new plane later, we finally took off better than 2.5 hours after our scheduled departure time.  At just after 2:00 in the AM, I finally arrived in Denver.  Now I like DIA, but it’s no fun that late at night.  You have to take a train from the concourse to the baggage claim, and they don’t exactly run a lot of trains at that hour.  It was better than 3:00 by the time I got all my shit and was ready to head home.

The little yellow one is me. Nice work guys.

Cabs are scarce that time of night, so it was a bit of a wait, but I finally got me a cab and got home at just about 4:00 in the morning, a full 24 hours after leaving Oberemt, Germany with Ms. Müller.  It had also been 24 hours since I ate anything other than airplane food, and after grabbing a bite to eat I realized it was just about 5:00.  Now I knew from experience that if I’d had the audacity to go to bed my sleep schedule would have destroyed for the next several days, so I hit up the gas station for a 4-pack of Red Bull, put my big boy pants on and went to work.

Thankfully it was a pretty quiet day, and I knocked off a little early and actually got a descent night’s sleep.  Yesterday wasn’t as kind.  Apparently one of our customers desperately needs some help installing some of our shit in Poland.  As such one of our dudes got pulled off a project in Pennsylvania to get out there and help.  I’m sure you can figure out exactly what that means for yours truly.  Yup.  At 7:00 tomorrow morning, a mere 75 hours after getting home from Germany, I’m off to beautiful Shippingsport, Pennsylvania to take his place.

It is what it is, I suppose.  And the money will be good.  But that was an awfully rude awakening.  I just got done with having a halfway normal life for a while.  And I liked it.  A lot.  I had 23 days of like, home-cooked meals.  And going to the movies.  And watching TV.  And going out to a bar where I actually know people.  And not being alone.  It was tough to get thrust so abruptly back into the reality to which I’ve grown accustomed.

I wish I had some time to catch my breath.  And like, launder my clothes.  But this also offers the silver lining of giving me something to do other than sit around and miss the shit out of the girl, the town, and the second family I just left.  Now I can work my ass off, drink for free, and miss the shit out of all of that, which is a marked improvement, so it’s not all bad.  But holy shit this little life of mine is hectic.  Bah.  Oh well, it’s a life worth leading anyway.

Here’s to the free meals and frequent flier miles.

Don’t be a stranger.

-B. Littleton

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