Adam’s Summer Purgatory, 2008 (2013)


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WILLIAMS LAKE May 28th

I have a new job, with a new company, camped in the same campsite as the old company. Today is our day off, and it is also my old camp's day off, and there are a lot of planters in town.

I am sitting at a computer terminal in the Williams Lake Library. Across from me I see the beautiful girl from Dynamic, checking her email.

I have very few emails. My father has posted an encouraging comment on this blog. Two more companies have responded to my applications, but they are too late.

The day after I was fired I had four job offers by noon. I could have gone south, west, or east into Alberta, or I could go with a new company called Rhino that is working out of the same campground as my old camp.

I weighed a number of factors. I didn’t want to have any more quality problems. I wanted to get back to work as soon as possible. Rhino is in my old camp, only ten minutes away. They are soon heading north and into Alberta – both places where I am tested and capable. I thought of the campsite, the payphone and the laundry services, the proximity to town.

That evening I was in a muddy white truck being driven back to the same Chief Will-Yum campsite I had been ejected from in the morning. I asked the truck’s driver, a tree runner and all around administrative hand named Nick Verburn who everyone called ‘Bernie,‘ about my new foreman, Cam Stewart.

‘Is he good?’ I said.

‘He is very good.’

‘What is his style?’

‘I’m not sure he has a style.’

‘Is his crew strong,’ I said.

‘I think they are the best in camp, yeah,’ said Bernie.

It was dark when I arrived, and Cam Stewart was smoking a cigarette and listening to music in the cab of his large diesel truck. His eyes were light blue like a husky and his hair was orange but not curly. He had heard I was having quality problems. I told him I would need someone who is patient. He said he was patient.

He was tall and to the point and rarely looked up from a notebook he was writing numbers into. His hands were not like a young man’s hands -- they were wrinkled and fucked, like the hands of some ancient peasant god.

I told him I was glad and I would work hard every day. I pitched my tent on the east side of the divide, about 100 meters from where I was camped before.

From where I filled up my water jug the next morning, I could see my old camp and crew going through their morning routine. I could see Jessie and Caroline bickering amiably. I felt melancholy.

For the first shift I was unable to go and say hello, fearing I would run into Kayla, or Jason, or any of the people I did not know well in camp. I tried, a couple times. I would start walking over toward Caroline's van then halfway would feel exposed, as if trespassing, and would turn around and walk back to my tent.

After six days of haunting I had been spotted twice by people who recognized me from the Dynamic camp. I decided to make another effort at walking across the field. I wore a pair of Groucho Marx glasses (with the moustache, big nose, and furry eyebrows) to make light of my predicament. RJ, the checker from Dynamic did a double take and laughed. I kept a straight face.

I talked to Caroline and Jessie about Kayla. They said they were both planning to quit after the next shift. Eric and Benson were undecided.

I told them about my first shift with Rhino. Cam, my new foreman, kept a close watch on me for the first two days, after which he became confident in the quality of my trees and in me, I think. I told them I was already making better money than before.

Caroline asked if there was room on my new crew and I told her the trucks were all full.

My new camp will move to Fort St. James at the end of this shift.

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