Adam’s Summer Purgatory, 2008 (2013)

10/26 - Next


After dinner, I approached Kayla to tell her about my plan, thinking she would appreciate it. I asked to speak to her alone and she told me to give her 15 minutes. I went back to my tent, sat down, and drank a beer.

Jason stopped me on my way back to find Kayla. He asked me to come have a seat with him, and we walked over to a picnic table away from the center of camp. Kayla came over to join us.

Jason began by asking me what the problem was with my trees. I said I wasn't convinced they were bad. I said Kayla's complaints were contentious, that I suspected Kayla had a problem with my personality, which I thought was getting in the way of her judgement, with regards to the quality of my trees.

I was calm and conciliatory.

‘No,’ said Jason.

I asked him for a spot on another crew.

He refused.

‘I think I would not have quality problems if I was on the other crew,’ I said.

‘A good tree is a good tree,’ said Jason, ‘a bad tree is a bad tree.’

‘There is a process whereby a good tree becomes a good tree,’ I said. ‘A person, a human being, must make a judgement call. Human beings are messy, they don’t agree on things. One person sees a good tree, one person sees a bad tree. I think my trees are fine. The client checker thinks my trees are fine. Kayla thinks they are bad. The line between good and bad is constantly in flux; it is forever negotiated by flawed, emotional, self-interested human beings.’

‘No,’ he said, ‘a bad tree is a bad tree.’

‘I can see what you mean,’ I said.

'I think we've got to let you go,' he said.

I asked him for second chance.

Jason held out the warning I had signed earlier in the day; held it out over the picnic table and firmly patted it down.

‘This was your second chance,’ he said.

He told me to pack a lunch tomorrow and plan on heading into town in the morning.

I shook his hand. I walked away from camp, sat down on a hill, and drank two beers. I couldn’t go back to Vancouver, there was nothing there for me. I couldn’t return to New York without money. The idea of joining up with another company was extremely unappealing - and how could I be sure I wouldn’t get stuck in the same situation?

I went to say goodbye to my crew. They had heard the news. I have grown fond of them, and will miss them.

I slept poorly. I woke and packed up. All the other people in the camp went about their regular morning routine. They woke up, they put on their clothes, they ate, they made lunch, they packed up their stuff and got into their trucks. Jason drove me to the Greyhound bus station in Williams Lake, and we had a conversation about paintball.

‘It’s too bad,’ he said, ‘you’re not a bad guy.’

‘Do you think I will have trouble finding work with another camp?’ I said.

‘I think there are a lot of companies that are looking for a planter like you,’ he said.

I waited for the library to open, and when it did, I used a computer to find phone numbers for other companies. I started making phone calls.

10/26 - Next