Adam’s Summer Purgatory, 2008 (2013)


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FORT ST. JAMES June 8th

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We had one day to move to Fort St. James and set up camp before starting in on the 500,000 or so Ministry of Forests (government) trees we are currently chipping away at.

The haste made for a dearth of downtime that prevented me from adding to this page. Today is my first real day off in 10 days.

In Fort St. James the prices are lower ($.13), but the land is faster and the numbers are higher. We are camped only 15 kilometers away from a 250,000 tree block that we have been on the for the last four days - resulting in long days and big pieces of land.

On my first day I worked extremely hard to reach 3,000, hitting my goal just before 6 p.m. News of this spread through the camp that night. Very few people in the Rhino camp have heard of anyone save Yossef putting in that kind of number, and I am starting to feel notable again, famous, even.

On the second day I put in 3,400.

A big French Canadian guy named Julien has emerged as the strongest of the rookies on my crew. He asked me questions about my technique. How do I manage to plant so many trees? I told him I just go as fast as my body will let me. I told him I get into a rhythm and just don’t stop. I try to do everything quickly; eating, bagging up, walking. Everything.

I gave him some tips for how he could work his land more efficiently, how he could avoid wasted motion and calories. With my guidance and encouragement he became the first rookie to hit 2k.

Yossef is taking it easy. The faster land, he says, is for younger planters. His experience is less of an advantage. I beat him every day of the shift. I feel great. My tent is far from camp and I conduct myself with a businesslike impersonality. I am not here to party or make friends, I am here to work.

Over the span of the four-day shift I planted 12,405 trees, at $.13, earning $1,612.65.

I am back. I have arrived. I am a highballer again.

I celebrated by splurging on a single motel room on the night off. I drank three beers, ate an entire pizza and watched a nine ball tournament on television.

In the morning, I had a bath, checked out, and walked to the laundromat - which I found closed. I walked to a nearby gas station and asked what time the laundromat opened. The cashier informed me that the laundromat did not open on Sunday.

I hadn’t washed my clothes for 10 days.

'Is there another one in town?' I said.

'No.'

'Is there an internet cafe around here?'

'Yes, but it is closed.'

'How about a library?'

'Closed.'

I called the motel and asked if they did a laundry service. No.

I took a day-room. I bought some detergent from the grocery store, and hand-washed my clothes in the bathtub. I rung them out, hung them off of a rail, and am now waiting for them to dry while orating this to Lauren, who is in Manhattan, using the motel room phone and a 7-11 calling card.

We are here for another four days before packing up again - this time for a 12-hour drive to our neighboring province, where I think I will be at an even greater advantage.

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