One thing I forgot to mention yesterday that was a pleasant surprise was we found out they had instituted a change with the water vendor, I’m assuming at least partially based on what happened with us. Going forward they are going to have the company scrub and sanitize the fresh water tanks quarterly (they changed their contract with them) and it will be done onsite so the gate guarding folks can watch it being done. Very cool and so nice to know we were heard. We also got a visit from our company support person and he brought us some donuts when he brought the water and said thanks for doing a great job. That was really nice. Speaking of water, we did really well this week only using about half a tank. The X factor appears to be how many sinks full of dishes we do, and because we went out one night, and I cooked less, we didn’t do dishes every day. Also the new popup canopy Lee bought for $50 is working great. It extends our shade coverage during the hottest part of the day, which is much needed.
And the new tent was up just in time, because the day started out pretty hot, and by 2:00pm it was 93 degrees with a cloudless sky. I worked outside between 1:00pm and 2:45pm and got so hot Lee had to make me take a break and come inside in the AC. It’s fine in the shade, but this new policy forces us into the sun for longer periods and the gusty hot wind didn’t help as I was struggling with the heat. Pretty soon I was sweating and feeling pretty flushed. On the plus side. my legs will be getting that sun I was looking for, but I may need to bust out some sunscreen as this sun is quite intense. Thanks for all the great suggestions on how to solve the gate problem by the way! (We think we have a winner, but I’m going to test it first before I make the big announcement. – Lee) Lee has a call in to the ranch owner to get permission to make this very minor modification to the gate, and our Account manager seemed pleased that we were trying to help solve the problem. I am also glad I took my rings off because my hands got caught in the gate a couple of times. The combination of heavy gate, gusty winds, and sweaty hands isn’t the best.
Right as I was typing that last sentence, the ranch owner stopped by and I went outside to handle trucks while they talked about the gate. Lee was just starting to explain it when the oil company man coincidentally showed up. The ranch owner immediately turned away from Lee and started to talk about the problem with the company man, who said he would put drop bars on. Lee and I were both completely cut out of the conversation. The ranch owner did ask why the new policy, and the company man stated that it was easier for all their gates to have the same rules. The ranch owner, to his credit, said he didn’t care if the gate was shut all the time, but was concerned for me since the gates were heavy in the wind, which was nice. The downside is now we are at the mercy of when/if the company man gets around to it and their solution is not our first choice. It will actually increase the work load even more. This will require lifting the drop rod, walking each gate over to it’s open position, then dropping the rod before going back and doing the other side. That will increase the time we spend wrestling with the gate even more on non windy days. It will probably be the same or a little less on windy days. Well, it is what it is, but I got to experience first hand what it is like when people make a change to the job you do every day and don’t even ask your opinion. Not that pleasant of an experience, for us at least. In the meantime, Lee found he can use the chain to hold one side of the gate. It involves some bending down, but works in a pinch when it’s super windy.
The ranch owner had said he would stop and talk to us on the way out, but instead he used the ranch gate, watched me struggle letting a truck in, then took off. No discussion, no update. Boy, I got mad. And really, really fast. And let me be clear, the ranch owner is a nice guy and has been very polite to me, but apparently he had more important things to do and I didn’t need an update. And that’s what made me angry. There is a pattern here with these jobs we have been taking (camp hosting aside) where they are hard work, low pay, and the expectation seems to be you will accept the conditions as is and shut up about it. And for those of you who are perfectly fine with that, more power to you. I finally realized in that moment that I am just not. I’ve worked plenty of low level positions in my life (security guard, waitress, monitoring station operator, secretary) under way more dire financial circumstances than these and I still felt I had a voice. In these temporary jobs I mostly don’t feel that way. And you have to understand that by nature I am a rule follower. I have to force myself to stand up for myself. I am much, much better at standing up for others, but generally when it’s me I let things go, and let things go and then blow. So when I do get worked up enough to say something I want to be heard. I don’t expect to get my way, but I want my concern acknowledged, and if possible addressed. I think that’s pretty reasonable, but apparently in this world it’s not. And I never signed up for that.
Lee of course has no problem at all speaking up for himself and I end up often being the “voice of reason.” But I am getting pretty tired of that and standing out there in the hot sun fighting that gate I was really tired of it. And before I go any further I feel the need to kind of prove my case. I almost got knocked off my feet a couple times today so let me show you what I am dealing with here.
Running back and forth AND trying to stay on that walkway is tough, plus these gates are heavy for me and when the wind was gusting I almost got knocked off my feet a couple of times. The scampering back and forth doesn’t help as I really try to be deliberate in where I step. Basically it’s like walking a balance beam holding something heavy with the wind pushing at you. And it was very hot.
So I was upset, which made Lee upset, and we started talking about finding another gig. Work is picking up in the area and since we are at the lowest wage we are pretty confident we could make more money. Plus, we now know the questions to ask and could make sure we had a gate that fit our needs better. I was close, I mean really close, and the only thing that stopped me from calling one of the numerous job opportunities we have seen on the Facebook gate group was the young woman we initially interviewed with. I like her very much and she has really tried to take care of us and I just didn’t want to do that to her. So I took a deep breath and went back out to the gate. I had three or four trucks lined up and was struggling with the wind when Lee came out and said “Shut the gate”. Since there were trucks in the general area I didn’t really understand but he quietly said “The company man he needs to see it.” (The company man was one of the vehicles waiting. – Lee) So I brought the gate to center and of course it swung open with the wind, so I ran over to it and the company man saw me struggling. He pulled up immediately, lowered his window, and said to Lee “The guy behind us is fixing this tomorrow.” OK then. And “the guy behind” was one of our favorite guys from the construction company so we got to talk to him a little and ask him if the drop rods he was going to install could be locked in both the up and down position. No problem. To his credit he looked pretty upset and he is fixing it first thing in the morning. Well of course that made me feel better and in the meantime Lee rigged together our “Jim Jam” named after our friend Jim who had the idea. Pretty awesome, and he even shot some video to show the difference.
So here’s the thing. The wind problem is solved and more importantly the work associated with opening the gate is somewhat solved because Andy, one of our readers who is a long-time gate guard, suggested we only open half the gate for pickup trucks which honestly never even occurred to me. We have been doing that all evening and it is waaaaay less work than opening and shutting the full gate. So I have to ask myself was getting upset worth it? Would this all have worked itself out if I would have just sucked it up and sat on my feelings? I think the short answer is “no”. They wouldn’t have put rods on the gate. Lee wouldn’t have reached out for alternative solutions. We would have just suffered along and knowing us that wouldn’t have gone well. I think getting angry is OK. I think not being satisfied with the status quo is equally ok, as long as either state isn’t all the time. Great change comes from discontent. Almost every invention ever made came from someone being unhappy about something. So again, it’s totally OK if you’re not a person who gets crazy about these sort of things. And it’s even OK if you think we are wasting our time or making ourselves unhappy for little gain. I don’t believe that, and it’s my life and my time. To the contrary, I think I have to agree with Lee that a little more discontent is called for. If I was OK with the status quo we would still be living in New England freezing our butts off right now. The fact that we are not is a good thing even if everything else isn’t perfect.
Thirty days into the job by the way, and new policy aside it has been fine. We still have tons of projects to work on and the hours seem to be working OK for us both. The key for us has been both of us to go to sleep when it’s dark outside. We did discuss changing that to make the workload more equitable, but neither of us wanted to try to go to sleep when it was light out. Both of us have worked third shift a time or two in our past and it never went well. Our current sleep schedules of 9pm – 4am (Lee) and 4:30am – 12pm (me) are close enough to our regular sleep schedules to make it work. We are really leery of messing with that. The money is fine as long as we are getting a reasonable amount of downtime and with very few exceptions that seems to be the case. Hopefully once this gate problem is solved we can go back to things being comfortable.
This wasn’t all we had to do all day by the way. While all this was happening we were also getting the paperwork filled out for our summer job, which we are pretty excited about. Because the job is for a large electric company the HR process is pretty involved. We had to agree to a credit and background check (they said they don’t actually do the credit check, but we don’t care, our credit is great) , coordinate a drug screening and a physical, send three additional references, one of whom needs to be a former supervisor, and sign a non-disclosure. I read the last pretty carefully and it relates mainly to computer programs, processes, and company proprietary information. I will need to be a little careful when I blog about the job, but it seems pretty clear this language is universally used for the power company employees, which makes sense. Nothing in there about pictures thankfully, because that would be a bummer, so I should be fine as long as I continue my new policy of not mentioning the company by name. Since we have to print and mail this information (their policy) we are also printing out all the tax information. All we are missing at this point is one form from Fidelity, but I think I have enough to get started. Update: Lee found a free fax service online and “faxed” our email so it was all done before we woke up!! Nice.
And I found time in the day to read a really outstanding post by our friend Howard from RV-Dreams about balance in the lifestyle. (Howard and Linda are at the big RV show in Columbus, OH, this weekend, by the way, doing free seminars on full timing. If you’re in Cbus you should go to the show. Attend a seminar. Meet Howard and Linda. Buy an RV. Sell all your junk, quit your job and hit the road. Or just tell them we said Hi! – Lee) He talks about the need to really look at work/life balance and the fact that even after 12 years they need to keep an eye on things. The post reviews their balance history and spoke to me on many levels and as is often the case with his posts they come at a very good time. We need to remember that we are only a couple years into this lifestyle and obviously we still don’t have it figured out. (Not me. I have it all figured out. – Lee) And that’s OK, because even people who have been doing this a lot longer still make adjustments. It’s comforting and I really appreciate the fact that he wrote this. And finally, just to show the day wasn’t all pain and misery here are a couple pictures of some lighter moments. When the sun went down, things were much, much nicer.
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