As you can see from our last post that Lee had the weekend off but it was worth mentioning that the owner wanted people on call all weekend. Two of the other guys volunteered for each day, but Lee was pretty adamant that he wanted the weekend off. It was clear at this point that the owner wanted to have folks waiting around for his call, but that meant we wouldn’t be able to go anywhere at all or do anything at all. As you saw we had a great time and Lee got caught up on well needed rest.
Day 6 – Lee started work again at 6am on Monday but he wasn’t sure what to expect. He thought they would be on a split shift again, but with no discussion the day just kept going and he ended up working a 13 hour day. This was much preferable to a split shift so Lee was OK with working all the way through although he would have preferred some kind of communication as the day progressed. (The lack of respect for people is definitely a problem for me. There’s absolutely no reason not to tell people what’s going on. – Lee)
Day 7 – Lee was told that he didn’t need to come in until 8am but he “might” be called at 6am. Once again Lee wasn’t OK with having to get up early just to wait around but one of the other guys volunteered to get up and be on call. To be clear we have worked weather dependent jobs before. The beet harvest had a system where you called a number first thing in the morning and they gave you the start times. Amazon did something similar as well, so at least in those cases you had a hard start and end time sometime during the day. This is a small company though and it seems to largely be based on the owners whim. There maybe more going into his decision process but since he doesn’t communicate that, we simply don’t know. Lee was let go this day at 2pm which largely wiped out the OT he had made yesterday. No matter what the reason at this point, being available morning to night is only worth it if you are making money. (There’s definitely a pattern emerging here. I can’t entirely blame it on the owner, part of the problem seems to be the farmers. They all want their fields sprayed at the same time, based on the weather and where the crops are in the process. I get that. But none of this is being communicated. So the idea of working a 16 hour day to squeeze as much in as possible makes sense, but then the next day is a very short day which negates all that extra time. And again, the problem is the not knowing up front. I would NOT have taken the job if I had known this is how the schedule would be. – Lee)
Day 8 – Today was a 15 hour day and a very unpleasant one and Lee decided he had enough. He stayed late after everyone else left and had a discussion with the owner. After talking about how difficult the schedule was, Lee told him we were leaving. Thankfully the conversation went well. Lee stressed the importance of being upfront about the more unpleasant aspects of the job in advance and they parted on decent terms.
This is the first time we have ever left a work kamping job. In the past we would probably have stayed because we would have needed the money, but since I am working we have more flexibility. I am glad we didn’t slip out in the night or make up a “family emergency” but instead Lee had the decency to be honest about why we were leaving so hopefully things could improve for the next work kamper.
(I shot a few seconds of videos here and there during the short time I was there to compile a representation of what the job entailed. It’s basically these steps over and over for each flight, of each aircraft, all day with just waiting between flights. Although short flights meant really fast turnarounds, and the owner did say that once things got busy it would be 5 aircraft at a time, 16 hour days for a few weeks straight. Anyway, if you’ve ever wondered about the process of mixing chemicals and prepping a crop duster, here you go! – Lee)
The one thing Jack and I will really miss is the campsite. It was absolutely fantastic with a wonderful onsite owner who was very cool about dogs. There were two HUGE fields I could walk Jack along with a dead end we could walk down. There was a pretty loud train that wandered through but since we had the AC on most nights it wasn’t a big deal. Seriously it is one of my favorite places we have ever stayed. The name is Prairie NW RV Park and if you ever find yourself near Appleton, MN I would definitely stop by, although you have to Contact Jason at (320) 289-1202 or (320) 760-7710 (after hours) for reservations, because they don’t have any kind of website presence 🙂
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