This post is about “Bobo”. I wrote about Bobo before. He is in his early 50s, highly skilled, and willing to travel. In his latest email, he says “I’m down to one bag, one laptop, and one phone.“
When he loses his job, he gets another within a few days.
King of the Road
My previous post was Bobo’s Travels – Plenty of Job Offers for Skilled Engineers IF You Can be Like Bobo, written on December 2, 2011.
Here is an update from “Bobo” on what the last year was like.
The US mining job I was at just ended. They gave me one hour to clean out my desk. That was nice. A power plant where I once worked only gave me 5 minutes.
Hire. Fire. Boom. Bust. Construction is a fast world.
Lucky for me I can get another job in a few days or so. This is the third consecutive time I’ve overlapped the next job with the severance package from the one before. Call it sweet revenge.
Last year I worked for 3 companies, in 2 countries, and 5 states. This year, so far, I worked in 2 countries and 3 states.
There is plenty of work, but my lifestyle is not for everyone. I have no kayaks, no canoes, no bikes, and no golf clubs.
I’m down to one bag, one laptop, and one phone.
Now I’m in Quebec. Round and round we go. Where I end up no one knows!
It took me exactly one day to get fired in the US and hired in Canada. I’m building a huge metal processing plant. I went from gold mining to copper processing.
I went from dusty cowboy sage brush to foggy misty pines. This must my northern limit. I’m absolutely freezing here. And it’s only August.
This place is just scattered homes in the woods with a small village or two. The big city has a population of 50,000 and is about two hours away. It is about 2/3 English, 1/3 pure French, with a sharp accent that’s very difficult to understand. Regardless, it’s too far for a daily commute.
At least all the locals are friendly.
The area is primarily green forests and a million lakes. I saw a moose wandering around this morning, 50 feet from my office window. Last night I had a face-to face encounter with one at 90 km per hr. It was dark, and the moose was running across the road as I drove by. I just missed it. Even this morning, I can still see that moose head staring at me.
Today is a cool, cloudy, misty, pouring, raining day. Now I know where all the lakes come from. I have turned up the heat already, every night. It’s going to be a long winter.
I’m working 10 days on, 4 days off. Their travel desk seems pretty good. They want to book my next 3 trips out already. I can fly anywhere in the world for the 4 days, but 4 days in Europe doesn’t seem worth it. South Beach Miami, though, is looking nicer and warmer all the time.
There are no apartments or hotels here. There is just a scattering of houses in the woods or cabins on a lake, and everyone is renting out rooms because of the construction boom. I rented a place for $500 a month, half what I paid in in the states. However, I now have to pay for a car, insurance, gas, and maintenance. Moreover, I lose on every transaction here. For example, I went to deposit $1000 into a Canadian bank, and they tried to charge me a $40 fee due to exchange rates.
In the US I got by without a car on one job. Here I need one. For that I need a Canadian bank account. I bought a dumpy used car because I’m only here for a year or so. Still, I have to register the car in Canada. To do that, I need insurance. For that I need a Canadian driver license. So I drive the 2 hours into town to get one. Then I find out I have to provide 6 years of my past driving records and past insurance to get insurance.
Everything is higher cost. Their generous per diem tilts in my favor, but everything is still a huge hassle.
I haven’t done much work yet. Rather, I’m just settling in and dealing with a new apartment, car, insurance, banking, training, site orientation, phone, car insurance again, driver’s license, work permits, and a mountain of paperwork in general.
The good news is I only have 3 more working days before my 4 day break.
My world is spinning so fast that I am forced to make decisions and to live in a way I would never choose. All this for a job.
In honor of Bobo I present “King of the Road” by Roger Miller
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