Sunday, December 26, 2010

Digging In

Still waiting for course...

It was a cold December morning and the alarm was ringing at about 4:30am and I was fighting the urge servrely not to press the snooze button. I threw off my itchy fire proof blanket from my bed and turned to the side trying not to touch the oh so cold tiled floor. I then went about quietly getting dressed for the morning trying my best not to wake up my roommates. I finally got my winter jacket and winter pants together and stepped out into the barracks hallway.

As I walked down the hall in my boots you could hear the tell tale 'clomp' 'clomp' of an echo in an absolutely desolate place. Everyone was back from the bars and were passed out from booze or exhausted from sweaty stinky barrack room sex. No, this morning was just quiet and I went and disturbed it by knocking quietly on a variety of rooms from a hand written list I was given.

Now 4:30 am is an ungodly time to be waking up. I know, I am by no means a morning person (I write all these articles between 1am - 3am usually) and I'm pretty much a bear in the morning. So coming being the first thing guys see in the morning I'm not too popular. Also, I gotta make sure these guys actually get dressed and are ready to go out with me for our task.

Why? Because some guys try to pull stuff over on you by acting like they don't hear too good, some blame sleepiness and say they were too "Sleep fucked" to remember me telling them to get ready, and some are just lazy and I hope I forget. That's what the list is for. So I don't forget.

You see, by this point I was put in charge of the snow clearing duty for the engineering school. Lucky me. Which means I got to be in charge of 6-8 guys to help shovel out the snow around it. Sounds easy in theory, except it's Canada and our winters aren't pretty. Especially in small town New Brunswick.

So I got this 'team' together and we all march across the gigantic parade square in the middle of the base in knee-high snow. The only other movement we see in the morning is the guys driving the big bulldozers (MSE OPS) and maybe some MPs looking for something to keep themselves busy. But here we were our little team of Engineer-wannabes trudging through the snow.

We get to the school and find our plastic shovels and get to it clearing the entrances. Now its not really much of a story, snow clearing in all. I mean everyone does it in the winter. But if you're like me, you just clear out enough of your driveway to get to your car and back out. I mean you're not running a used car dealership so why fuss about the non-important snow? That's where we differed. We had to clear ALL the snow around the building. 30 foot entrance paths, monuments in front of the school, the CO's parking spot, all the smoke pits, the gigantic entrance path, and any little side paths leading to the road. Not to mention after this was done we had to clear the ice underneath it all if it rained prior to the storm. Then add salt. Also, account for that it's also snowing the entire time so you have to redo some work by the time you finish everything.

So doing all this usually took about 6 hours out in the cold. But on the positive side, I was the boss and I consider myself a very relaxed guy to work for. The guys I worked with (once you got them out of bed) were great and did little complaining. And the odd replacement guy who did complain to the rest of the crew usually got thrown in a snow bank by the rest of us and we threw snow of him. Complaints didn't come up much after that. But the school was warm and open so we could warm up whenever we needed it. Smoke breaks when ever we wanted. And we always arranged a coffee/hot chocolate run each morning cause the work went faster when you were happier.

The bonus of doing this job besides being the boss was that once we finished everything we usually got to go home for the day. Now when I say usually I mean that if we finished too early we would be sent back to the classroom and wait like everyone one else. And while we were immune to doing jobs for the rest of the day, it just made waiting worse being soaked and tired. So it was always an art when I had to report in we were finished. I found the 'sweet spot' to be around 1pm just after lunch when it's officially afternoon and everyone was happy with a full belly of food. The hour for lunch wasn't hard on anyone either. So we got to go home to the barracks and like most people I usually just went to sleep.

Just another day on PAT. And if I didn't go to sleep from partying at night, I went to sleep praying it wouldn't snow.