Previous Lives: Blowing Things Up

Over the years I’ve done lots of jobs.  Actually I’ve become a bit of corporate mercenary and have managed to only stay at one job for at most 2.5 years.  Thus I’ve managed to accumulate a interest set of previous lives in my ten year career.  Today I’m going to tell the tale of my first two jobs and some important lessons that came out of them.

My first ‘real’ job out of university was working in the oil and gas industry as a case hole wireline engineer (first as a trainee and then running my own truck).  Which means nothing to most people expect for the more interest part of the job which required to be licensed to blow up things and handle nuclear sources (yes both at the same job).   It sounds much more interesting  than it was as I usually was blowing holes into oil/gas wells at least one kilometer below the surface.  When you did the job right the most you would notice was a little swinging on the line that was connected to the explosives.  Of course on surface it was still an explosive device, so yes I had the joy of working in an environment where you could literally blow yourself up if you weren’t careful

Although most people would consider that a stressful part of the job I actually found it fairly straight forward.  As long as you followed the safety protocols you should be safe for about 99% of the time.  What I did find stressful was the fact I worked a rotating shift where I spend about 14 days on call followed by six days off.  When I say I was on call, it was on call 24 hours a day.  So a call at 3am did occur once in a while.  The job also included being on the road a lot, which I soon found is a great way to stress your brand new marriage. Perhaps the worst thing of all was the fact my base pay was tiny and even when you included the bonus money and worked out your hourly wage I ended up making slightly higher than the minimum wage.

This didn’t bother me much at first but over the months I started to dread going to work until one day I realized I was starting to feel physically ill about going back on call.  Apparently it was my body’s way of telling me that it was time to look for another job.

So I learned right out of the gate in my career a few important lessons:

  • Long hours don’t mean you are getting paid well.  Do the numbers and check that at any job you are considering doing or you could find yourself better off doing a retail job.
  • Don’t underestimate the strain on lots of traveling on your family.  This can literally lead to divorce if your spouse is not completely ok with the arrangement.
  • Being on call 24 hours a day sucks.  Avoid jobs that require this as much as possible to ensure you actually have a life other than work.

In the end I quit that job because as I put it to my boss “I like my wife more than my job and I’ve got to pick one or the other.” Yet an odd thing occurred when I tried to resign.  They told to me talk with the training division supervisor before I quit.  He apparently was on the look out for someone to help rewrite their technical manuals so I end I didn’t quit, but transferred divisions and stayed on for a while longer on my first writing job.

As much as I hated that job at time I’m always grateful that I had it, because it taught me what not to put up with in any future jobs.  It also provided my first real lesson of money is not always worth it.  Good pay is one thing, but always know what they expect for that pay.

So what was your worst job?  What did you learn from it?

4 thoughts on “Previous Lives: Blowing Things Up”

  1. My worst job, and the job that I compare all other jobs to was gathering eggs at a chicken barn. I did this on weekends for 2 years (11 to 13) – I could make really good money for then, about $100 a weekend for 8 hours of work, but when I was done I stank, my nose was plugged with dust and I was generally miserable.

    The job basically was me going around with a little cart between the stacked cages of chickens and gathering around 12,000 eggs a day by hand.

    I have compared every job I have ever done to this job. I know there are worst jobs out there, because I’ve done it….

  2. My worst job was doing the night shift in a Dunkin’ Donuts. I don’t really remember why I ended there, but that summer (I was a student), I had a really hard time finding a job and finally got that one. I had absolutely no experience working on night shifts, no experience in this kind of business.

    I was in charge of the super-clean-up (cauz daytime girls didn’t had time to do it or something like that…) wich was simply… DISGUSTING. I was also in charge to prepare food for the next day, like making salads, kutting cheeze and of course preparing donuts and muffins. You’ll never guess how FAT this food is (disturbing).

    Finally, I ended having 3 job that summer. I got 1 full time day job where I was going right after my night shift, so I was basically working from midnight to 4:30 pm, and 1 part time for about 12 more hours a week (2 evenings and saturday pm).

    At the end of the summer, I was totally exhausted… and «rich» 😉 because I was too tired to expense lol! But the good point is I was able to buy my first car, rent an appartment and had my university fees paid a full year in advance… all credits to my crazy summer.

  3. I wouldn’t call it my worst job, but I did have a job that required many long days. Giving up evenings and the occassional weekend was acceptable when I was younger, single and had no other commitments. I was compensated relatively well for a period of time.

    However, as my personal situation changed I realized the importance of setting your own boundaries and began to value my time more. I suppose the main lesson I learned was to understand my own priorities and then looked for a situation that matched my needs.

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