The Pincher Creek Diaries


February 13, 2008

My arrival on the Waterton project was greeted in typical big-corporation style. They wanted me down here as quickly as possible, and have been expecting me for several weeks. When I got to the Site, my new boss offered me a chair. No computer, no phone, no desk, no spot to put the chair, no office supplies, but I do have a chair. The new trailer was supposed to have been done last week, but like everything else, there have been delays. They are also waiting for the IT guys from the Calgary office to come down and install new computers (for myself and other new people).

Sam, my new boss, seems like a good guy. He took some time in between phone calls and meetings to introduce me around. He has been swamped lately, so it was difficult for him to get me started on anything. I was in Orientation for about 3-4 hours Tuesday morning. Then I found out mid-afternoon that I was supposed to have signed in immediately upon my arrival (“You mean nobody told you?”) so technically I wasn’t really there. I signed in and out at the end of the day. Unable to do any real work, I took the opportunity to read some contracts currently in effect.

There is one men’s washroom and one women’s washroom. They are closed daily for maintenance between 10:00 and 11:00 a.m., so I’ll try not to drink too much water between 9:00 and 10:00. The nearest source of food is the roving herd of deer in the fields next to the Site. The mountains are in our back yard. There was no snow at the end of last shift, but when we arrived Tuesday morning, there were 4-foot snow drifts.

The first thing that anyone from Pincher Creek will tell you is that it gets windy around here. The forecast online called for winds of about 15 km/h for most of the week. That was a complete lie. By mid-afternoon, I was warned to put on a hardhat (with chin-strap) and eye protection if I went outside. The winds can get strong enough to pick up gravel off the parking lot and put it through windows. They had a few car windows wrecked that way recently. Another way car windows get damaged is the pressure differential if they are parked perpendicular to the wind. When the wind blows against one side of a car, there is high pressure on one side and low pressure on the other, creating a vacuum that literally blows the windows right out of the car. Company policy now requires all vehicles to be parked facing into the wind, to avoid injury from flying glass.

Last night I had a falling dream. I don’t normally have those. I was in an elevator with a small group of people, and all of a sudden it started to plummet, and I was lifted right off the floor. It fell about 10 stories, and just as it approached the ground, the emergency brakes kicked in and stopped us within a few feet of certain death. I woke up happy to be alive. It was a reminder that there are worse things than windy days.

Today is Wednesday. It would have been my second day on the job, had the Rocky Mountains not thrown a blizzard at the jobsite. We got on the bus at 6:00 this morning, and waited. A call came over the radio to hold up in Pincher Creek until the Owner decided whether or not to open the Site today. Visibility was zero at 6:00 this morning. By 6:30, we got the call to stand down. We got off the bus and went back to our motel rooms. I got a chance to get an extra hour of sleep, and catch up on email.

While Waterton is enduring a blizzard, Pincher Creek is calm, with only a light snow falling. Today I plan to find a gym to work out at (today will be one of the few days I have time), get some extra groceries, look for a place to live, and do some reading.

Whatever happens, it’s good to be alive.

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About Craig

Craig lives in Calgary, Alberta.
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