Dan is back to work – at least for now. He has taken a temporary position in the melt shop in the steel plant at Evraz. (He usually works as lead hand on the legacy spiral mills in the pipe plant but they are currently shut down). From all accounts, and a little imagination, the melt shop is about as close as one can get to hell on earth. But, steelworkers are a special breed and Dan is a steelworker, so when the opportunity arose he took it.
I have been with Dan for twenty four years and worked with him for several months before that. Dan is a good man and I know from personal experience that he is a good worker. He is dedicated, responsible, reliable, dependable, and capable. He takes pride in his work and demands respect for it – not simply for himself but for his fellow workers as well.
Over the years, I have found business interesting on many levels. Although I generally worked in administration, the production department was the heart of every company, in my mind. I have always been fascinated by the process, the equipment, and the skills and strength of the workers. I sat in my (climate controlled) office – supporting managers, serving customers, and doing everything in my power to ensure the production department had what they needed, to do what they did.
For a number of years, I believed that a business was all about the product or service they provided. During the last few years that I worked, I came to realize that the most fascinating part of any business are the people involved – owners, employees and clients.
There are people like Dan, who take pride in what they do and get the job done – regardless of any circumstances. Then there are others. The slackers, who show up (typically late and/or frequently not at all) and do the bare minimum. The desperately ambitious, who claw over anyone in an effort to better themselves 😂. The entitled, who do little of consequence, but blame others for their lack of performance and productivity. The arrogant, who regardless of position, have zero respect or consideration for others. And finally, the self sabotagers who are in a class of their own.
It takes a combination of factors to create a successful business – financial backing, quality product, proper equipment, and good people – Good people like Dan! 🌟
On Wednesday evening, Evraz issued 500 layoff notices in the tubular division of their Regina pipe mill. That included every unionized worker from seniority number 500 down to 0. I think my husband Dan is around #92.
This news did not come as a shock. Evraz warned of an impending work shortage some time ago. Financially, we will manage but any extended time off will mess with Dan’s pension, so that isn’t great. But, it isn’t all bad for us, either. If Dan’s layoff is actually December 17th, we can spend the holidays together. 🌲⛄☃️🥳. We can hibernate in January. 🐻🐿️ And, I am pretty sure I can find some things on the honey-do list for Dan to work on. (That gym in the garage is not going to build itself – it hasn’t so far… 🙄)
Sadly, this news is devastating for many of Dan’s co-workers. That it has come to this, days before Christmas, makes it worse. I feel so sorry for the younger people out there – the ones with mortgages, loan payments and families to support. It doesn’t help that many of them have been off lately due to a Covid outbreak in that plant. I certainly hope for everyone’s sake that this lay-off is short term. There is not a lot of comparable employment around here – especially now.
The Evraz layoff made our news yesterday. Our politicians are running true to form. Ryan Meilli (our leader of the opposition) is taking the governing Saskatchewan Party to task for their failure to use Evraz pipe for local crown projects. Mopey Moe, our Premier, is blaming Prime Minister Trudeau for the Saskatchewan economy. And, Prime Minister Trudeau has promised to support Evraz and their employees through this difficult time. 🤔
In the ever changing story of my life, I am officially retired as of today! Due to ongoing health issues and my boss’s concern that I may not be able as dependable as he would need me to be for the next few weeks, we have come to the mutual conclusion that I should retire now and be done with it. Yay!
I have been working for fifty years (with time off or part-time employment for a few years when my children were infants to preschoolers). For the past 26 years, I have been working in the Saskatchewan construction industry. For the past 16 years, I have been working for my current boss.
The first fourteen years at KMB were great. I loved the work – it was challenging and rewarding. I loved dealing with our clients, our suppliers and all of our professional support team. I generally got along with most of the other staff – especially my boss. We had some good years.
We had a few less than great times – like when I was in the hospital for a month a few years ago. I was on oxygen, morphine, multiple antibiotics and inhalants, had an ongoing iv and tubes draining my chest cavity in an attempt to allow my collapsed lung to expand. My boss would call every few days to see if I knew when I would be back at work. The day I got out of the hospital, he called to see if I would come to work the next day – which I did. 🙄
The past couple of years have not been great – or good. Since the boss’s son joined the company there has been a total lack of respect, consideration or appreciation for myself or anyone on staff. I still enjoyed working with the rest of the staff, etc but the atmosphere has been uncomfortable to say the least.
Last year, I did have the biggest sale of my career (and the biggest single sale for the company to date.) It was with our supplier that I have worked closest with over the past sixteen years and involved my favourite product. The customer was a regular, who specifically wanted to work with me. The order went virtually flawless start to finish – budget pricing to payment of invoice. Best of all – the facility name for the project was St. Ann’s. 🤣🤣. Every order is important when you are in sales, but it is definitely nice to end a career on a high note.
High notes or low, I am ready for the next chapter in my life. I have always lived by the motto that you do not move forward looking in the rearview mirror. There is so much ahead to look forward to!
My first major project will be getting our yard in order and repainting all of our steel planters. My husband was out sourcing some paint for me this morning. I also want to start scheduling some r & r into my days. I may check out my Kobo today and invest in a new book. 😊
Typically my priorities are not an issue. They usually work for me and generally suit the needs of those around me. Lately my priorities and those of others seem to be rather at odds.
My main priority throughout this current global pandemic is to avoid contracting Covid-19. My second priority is to insure that I am in the best health possible to survive Covid-19, should I contract it. I am mid sixties, asthmatic, have COPD, and have recently recovered from pneumonia. My husband is working in a plant where there is substantial risk of a COVID-19 outbreak and the possibility of his bringing that risk home. Placing my health first seems more than reasonable at this time.
I have taken a leave of absence from my work as an estimator/project administrator at a construction company. There is always substantial stress due to the responsibility of my position and the office politics of the company. Stress is not under any circumstance helpful for controlling asthma. There are also the environmental issues in an office that is part of a construction warehouse/workspace. These issues are also not at all good for controlling asthma. The fact that I am to retire at the end of July should make it all the more reasonable for me to take a leave of absence. Realistically, how much difference would it make if I am gone now or in three months? Everyone has known since last July that I would be retiring this summer and they have had nine months to prepare accordingly.
I have been home for three weeks. I have responded to emails, texts and phone calls regarding work. This week, my boss decided I should be willing to work from home in an official capacity, or go into the office to work for a couple of days a week. Needless to say, this conversation did not go well.
I understand that everyone has their own priorities. I understand that my boss is concerned about the commitments he has made to customers and the future viability of his company. I understand that he is stressed. So am I, and right now my priority is to take care of myself.
I am staying home and I am focussing on my health and well being. 🥀
The boss had to head out of town so I had the dubious pleasure of another site walk thru. Took a company truck just to add to the challenge. I don’t mind driving it but have to admit I am less than graceful trying to get in and out. It’s not even a 4×4 so I don’t know why it it such a stretch to get into it.
Got a goodly amount of exercise and fresh air walking around our football stadium. ‘Go Riders!’.
Made it through the walk, made a few contacts, handed out some info on our product for this project. Other than being attacked by a clingy entrance mat on the way in, it was all good.
Stopped for coffee and donuts on my way back to the office. Another mission successfully completed.
Ready to start my Friday. Fed my dog, had my coffee and vitamins, checked the weather and news and I wrote my morning affirmations.
Going for follow up x-rays on my way to work. Hopefully that will be the end of pneumonia 2020. It’s Friday, so that means order out lunch with Kori. We are celebrating today so I am treating us to a special lunch. I forget what we are celebrating but Friday lunch is always the best part of the work week so worth celebrating. 😂
I have been working for about fifty years. I am relatively intelligent, concientious and responsible. My employers, for the most part, have appreciated me. Unfortunately, even the best fall – and when I fall, I fall hard. If you are having a bad day at work, take a few minutes to read about a few of my less than stellar ones.
As a teenager, I worked at the local theatre. I sold entrance tickets and worked the canteen. During the movie, I would walk up and down the aisles making sure no one was smoking, drinking alcohol, making out, or pushing their knees against the seat ahead of them. I carried a BIG flashlight. If someone was out of line, I would shine my flashlight down on them. This was usually enough to get the offender to shape up. One night a classmate had his knees up against a seat. I shone my flashlight on his knees and he put his feet down. I walked to the front of the theatre, turned back, and as I passed my classmate, I noticed he had his knees back up. I reached out to gently tap his knee with my flashlight. The head flew off the flashlight and clattered to the floor. Lightbulb, spring, and batteries flew in all directions – shattering the silence of the moment – that moment when everyone is holding their breath in anticipation of the most terrifying scene of the year’s number one horror movie. That week my boss bought me a new flashlight. A really small flashlight.
After I graduated, I went to visit my sister and brother-in-law in Thompson, Manitoba – northern wilderness at its finest. I decided to stay a while. I applied for a position in a small construction company’s office. I agreed when my tentative employer asked if he could take me to lunch to discuss my possible employment. He offered to pick me up and I agreed to that as well. I did my long dark hair, fixed my make-up, dressed up in a pretty little dress and stepped to the top of the stairs – just as my sister opened the door. I had a good look at my boss- to-be as he stepped inside the house at the foot of the staircase. I took one step down, slipped on the top step and unceremoniously slid down the length of the staircase, body slammed the poor guy into the door and landed on top of him (with my pretty little dress wrapped around my throat). I found my resume months later. The note at the top of the page read “nice hair”.
My next adventure, was going to visit another sister and brother in law and their children. I became a nurse’s aide in their local hospital. I had a few bad days there but one that has remained particularly memorable. I was working the night shift. The head nurse sent me to change a patient’s colostomy bag. I had no idea what a colostomy bag was. I went to the store room and found a package marked ‘colostomy bag’. I cannot remember wondering what I would do with it. I proceeded to the patient’s room. As I stepped up to his bed, he said “I removed the old bag for you”. He lifted a towel off of his abdomen. I panicked, flipped the red emergency switch and ran into the hall, lights flashing, sirens wailing. Nurses, doctors and orderlies were rushing towards me. I rushed up to them and as calmly as possible said “My patient exploded – there is poop everywhere!”.
I finally decided that I should probably settle on office work and landed back in the construction industry, working for a millwork company. Amongst my many duties, I was in charge of getting shipments out. One month we had a large contract for cabinets to be shipped out to RNF in Prince Albert – several shipments, and I got them out without a hitch. Then my boss told me there was another trailer filled and ready to go. I grabbed labels, packing slips and bill of lading. Everything was filled out, the transport company was called, I had time to start working on the invoicing. Two days later, Logan Stevens from Yorkton called to ask where their cabinets were. Oh….
And today… I have been having a great week. It is only Tuesday, but so far so good. This afternoon, I got a call. A contractor called to tell me they wanted to proceed with an order that I had priced. It is a big order. I grabbed the file and started going through it. I had missed a major step in the pricing. My boss came back from site and I brought him the file. I had already figured out that I had also made one mistake in our favour, that there was one cost that had decreased and another that we could negotiate a better deal on. He offered a couple of additional suggestions. We will make it work, we will even make a profit. But…
Working is a part of life. We all have bad days. Through the years, I have found that when things go wrong taking responsibility is key. Finding a fix, if possible, is crucial. And, you cannot die of embarrassment even when you really want to.
It was back to work this morning after a week off to recover from pneumonia.
It is strange how one can plug along day after day, doing what one has to do – until you can’t. I was struggling to eat. I was struggling to breathe. I was definitely struggling to think and focus. I was just so exhausted. Now that I feel so much better, I cannot imagine how awful I was feeling before and why I did not realize that there was something serious out of sync.
I felt so good today. I dealt with a dozen files, wrote up a dozen invoices, sent out price requests and samples. I cleaned the washroom. (I am not going to care once I am gone but I cannot imagine how a half dozen adults can use a washroom for a week, rinse coffee cups and wash dirty hands and not once wipe off the sink?) 🤷. It is not rocket science. 🤦 I went through the electronic plan room and checked out new tenders that had been uploaded. I answered countless calls. It felt so good to feel efficient, energetic and reasonably intelligent.
I am still anxious to retire – more so every day. But I am glad that I feel well enough to kind of enjoy being back to work!
There are many careers that involve shiftwork. My husband Dan, works in the pipe mill of a steel plant that runs twenty-four seven. Currently they are working a five on four off/ four on five off mix of day and night twelve hour hour shifts. Shiftwork is never ideal but it has it’s benefits and it has definite challenges. Some of my thoughts, based on our experiences:
1) Shiftwork is brutal when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. Your body is constantly trying to adjust to changes in routine. Eating, sleeping, lack of sunlight, too much sunlight – it is all hard on a body! In a steel plant, you have the additional challenges of air quality, noise, temperature control and dangerous work conditions.
2) Shiftwork can be a major strain on a relationship – especially if your partner works conflicting shifts or has a regular Monday to Friday 8 to 5 career. In our case, that has been a bit of a bonus. Our time together, day or night, is so random and rare, that twenty years in we still very much appreciate our time together and look forward to our retirement years together. There are, however, a lot of relationships that do not make it.
3) Shiftwork makes meal planning difficult to impossible. When I am working, Dan leaves for nightshifts before I get home from work. When I am home, we eat supper by 3:30 in the afternoon so we are not particularly hungry but are both snacking later in the evening. When Dan works days, I come home, make supper and wait hours before he comes home and is ready to eat. By the time we finish supper and clean up, our evening is over.
4) We have never had the challenge of raising a young family together but it has to be hard on both parents and the children. It is even harder raising children if the parents are not living together. A major change in shifts at Dan’s plant lately was a legal and logistical nightmare for many parents.
5) There are a few bonuses to shiftwork – Dan can handle vehicle repair and medical appointments and the like on his mid-week days off, there is almost always someone home with our dog, Dan can get peak golf times during the week when he is on days off, I come home to fresh cooked meals on Dan’s week days off (definitely a bonus as he is a great cook), and when he is off shift, he does have four or five days in a row to rest and recover. This will be especially nice once I retire and we can use such times to take short trips and get out of the city.
6) Workers who work shiftwork tend to have a special bond with their fellow workers (in a survivor mentality/shared pain type of way). They also tend to have an intense passion and dedication for the work that they do.
Overall, shiftwork can be challenging for a worker, their partner and their family. Like anything else, it takes work and it has it’s rewards!
This week I have been enjoying one of my first ‘lasts’ at work. The western sales rep for one of our biggest, and my favourite, supplier is in town. Construction Specialties manufactures many products (Acrovyn wall protection, entrance mats and foot grilles, hospital tracks and curtains, expansion joints, louvres, sunshades and more). I love their products, I love the quality of their products, and I love the people I deal with from this company – including and especially Peter.
Peter has been our rep for ages now and he is great to deal with. He is a great guy period. He knows the industry inside out and always has some interesting news for us. (This week it was paperless drywall – and the non porous reason behind it. It is a healthcare thing and way more interesting than it sounds). Peter knows his company and he definitely knows his products. If we have a problem or need support for anything, he is on it. He is respectful and decent. There is no question that he has our backs. We feel we can be totally honest and upfront with him and he is totally honest and upfront with us. It has been a great relationship for both sides from day one.
This week Peter is here for the annual Construction Specifications Canada tradeshow. He comes every year for it and spends the better part of a day with us. We (my boss Brian, Peter, and I) spend the morning catching up on news, go for a nice lunch, back to the office to discuss more business and then we meet for supper at one of Regina’s best steak houses. It is always fun. This year was special. This year will be my last for this get together. This year was also a bit of a celebration for one of my best years and definitely my best sale ever. It was an impressive sale by any standards and I was so happy to end my career on such a positive note. (For the record, I have never been one to spend my time chasing BIG sales. I take care of the little sales and our customers just trust me enough to bring the big sales to me.) 🙂
I will have a lot of ‘lasts’ and ‘goodbyes’ in the next few months. It is kind of sad, but I know that I am fortunate that I get to make these special memories before I retire.