The day after I was fired, I went to the library in Williams Lake. I wrote a few emails, and by noon the day of my termination I had four job offers. I could have gone south, west, or east into Alberta, or I could go with a new company called Rhino who was working out of the same camp-ground as my old camp.
I weighed a number of factors. I didn’t want to have any more quality problems. I wanted to get back to work as soon as possible. Rhino was in my old camp, only ten minutes away. They were soon heading north and into Alberta – both places where I am tested and capable. I thought of the campsite: the pay-phone and the laundry services: the proximity to town.
I felt a perverse glee being driven back to the same camp by a new company.
I pitched my tent on the east side of the divide, about one hundred meters from where I was camped before.
I met my new foreman. I remember thinking that he had a presence. He had heard I had been having quality problems. I told him I would need someone who is patient. He said that he was patient. I told him I was glad and I would work hard every day.
I filled up my water jug the next morning and I could see my old camp and crew going through their morning routine. Things looked pretty normal, which was sad.
For the first shift I was unable to go and say hello, fearing the social awkwardness of returning and running into Kayla the forewoman or Jason the supervisor, or any of the people I did not know well in camp who might not take to my reappearance. I tried to, a couple of times. I would start walking over to Caroline's van and find myself wracked with anxiety less than halfway, blocked by fear and shame. This was kind of sad too. But it passed.
After six days of haunting I had been spotted a couple of times. I thought that the word must have been getting around their camp, so I decided to make another effort at walking across the field. I wore a pair of Groucho Marx glasses (with the moustache and the big nose and furry eyebrows) to make light of my predicament. RJ, the checker from Dynamic did a double take and then laughed as I kept a straight face.
My new crew departs for Fort St. James in four days.