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! 🌟
Yesterday I went out shopping for the first time in ages. Dan had an errand to run so he dropped me off at Walmart to get started on my mission.
I don’t know if there are supply chain issues, strange hoardings happening, or if it was just coincidence, but I struggled to find some things that I went for. Walmart was out of Epsom salts, potting soil, dish towels, and yeast. Plus, a bag of flour spontaneously flew off a shelf and tried to take me down. Love shopping!
By the time I was ready to move on to the Dollar Store, Dan was back to join me. They had the peanuts for our squirrels and sunflower seeds for our birds. We managed to grab a few other things including some new flowers for Dan’s parents gravestone.
I finished out my shopping trip with a quick stop at Home Depot. They had nothing I needed so it was back home.
I was never that into shopping, but these days I really try to avoid it. Between the people who cannot follow directional arrows and the ones who refuse to keep their distance at cash out, I get more than a little annoyed. Some people have no respect or consideration for the store personnel who are there to serve them. With these Covid variants affecting younger and younger people, it is hard not to see my daughter and granddaughter in every vulnerable clerk I see. 😞
Today is Dan’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Dear! We started the day with a trip out to the graveyard to bring his parent’s their spring bouquet. It seemed a fitting day for such a visit. We came home and I made Dan breakfast and put our plants out to enjoy the sunshine. 🌞 A few minutes ago Dan called his sister who is also celebratingher birthday today – different year same day. 😉
For years I have been doing battle with a typical retractable water hose. I would wrestle the miserable thing out to our front lawn while it would try to retract every time I got a foot further.
When I eventually finished watering, one quick tug and the hose would retract at a manageable steady pace – theoretically. In reality, one quick tug and either nothing happened or fifty feet of solid hose would shoot back to the reel at a hundred miles an hour. If it was the latter, I had my choice of holding on for dear life or letting go. Letting go was not the best option.
Years ago, we started seeing advertisements for an expandable, lightweight cloth hose.
My husband and I would go to the garden centre every spring and I would see these expanding hoses. I would reach for one and my husband would say “you don’t want that do you?”. I would assure him that I did want that – at least to give it a try. At this point, I would get his whole speech extolling the virtues of our sociopathic retractable hose – with a bonus speech on operator error.
On Friday, we went to a discount store to pick up some economy (disposable) paint brushes that I can use for painting our planters. I saw my dream hose – on sale – in a discount store! I snatched it up and stormed the til to pay for it before Dan could talk me out of it.
My ‘Amazing Hose’ is amazing! It is lightweight, manageable, easy to extend, and easy to put away. The nozzle on it is equally amazing. I have purchased half a dozen nozzles in the past twenty years – some cheap, some stupid pricey. I did not love any of them. I love my new nozzle. My new hose and nozzle are perfect! I do not get to be right very often – but this time, I nailed it. (We won’t discuss the ‘Easey Peazey jar opener’ 🙄)
I had so much time left over from watering plants yesterday that I cleaned up our bird feeder and put fresh seed out for the birds. 🐦
Our provincial government has decided that it is time to re-open Saskatchewan. I agree that it is time. People need to return to their lives and we should be ready. Businesses have been made aware of what they must do to keep their customers and staff at minimum risk. Medical facilities have had time to prepare for Covid and non-Covid patients. Schools will remain closed for now as will churches, sports venues, and the like. Our government should be ready to take swift action if there are signs of a serious outbreak. People in general have been educated as to the risks of Covid 19 and the precautions needed to avoid contracting or spreading it. Saskatchewan is ready. It is time.
I have ventured out very little in the past two months. For the most part, I have gone only where I absolutely had to – our bank, our pharmacy, and to a lab for blood tests. I also went to one outdoor greenhouse and one very quiet dollar store. Dan has been doing all of our other shopping and errands on his days off.
Yesterday I decided that it was time. I put on a mask and headed off to Walmart with Dan to pick up a number of items that I prefer to buy for myself – shampoo, conditioner, and the like.
Dan dropped me off at the lineup to the Walmart entrance. There were maybe fifteen people in line. The line was orderly and moving at a steady pace. One person would be allowed to enter the store and the rest of us would move up a spot. The spots were clearly identified. I was signalled to enter the vestibule, where there were three more steps to move up. Then I was signalled to enter the store.
Once in the store, it was a GONG show. People were coming in, people were going out, people were crossing sideways to grab a cart or return a cart. I had no idea where I was supposed to go. A staff member caught my eye and motioned me over to get a freshly sanitized cart. I thanked him, grabbed a cart, and moved off towards the pharmacy area.
There were no arrows to indicate which direction I should be travelling. There were only a couple of other people in the immediate vicinity so I was easily able to keep my distance. I was relaxing, while still being vigilant. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a large man moving up beside me. I edged away from him just as he put his BIG hand on the handle of my cart.
This was not the first time Dan has stepped up beside me to take over pushing a cart but he startled me none the less. Fortunately, my mask muffled my shriek and we moved on.
I led the way around the store, while Dan pushed the cart. It was all good until we reached the grocery department. Suddenly there were arrows on the floor and I was going the wrong direction – as were half of the customers. Dan was in the next aisle, going the right direction. I caught up with him and we quickly got what we needed. We paid the cashier, who was on the other side of a plastic barrier. I was distracted when I noticed she was sanitizing the debit machine after I used it. 👍
By the time I turned back, Dan was gone. He was halfway out the door. As I was trying to get past the service counter, there was a staff member – right there – announcing Walmart’s Covid 19 protocols. In the ten square feet in front of her counter, there were a dozen people all going different directions. I was one of them. 🙄
It may be time and Saskatchewan may be ready. Personally, I do not feel that I am quite there yet – at least not for Walmart.
Our weather has reverted to winter misery so I am in the house trying to keep occupied. I went through the photos on my husband’s phone to see how he views the world. (with his permission of course – I do not make a point of rifling through his phone😲). Enjoy!
That is it for today. Have a great day and stay safe!
I have been home for six days, hiding out from Covid-19. I don’t have the lungs to be comfortable taking chances with any contagious respiratory disease – especially one that does not have a cure. I am happy to lay low.
So far it hasn’t been too bad. My husband has been home for the past four days. Tomorrow he goes back for three twelve hour day shifts, followed by two twelve hour night shifts. Normally, I am used to it – but normally I am happy to have some alone time after being at work all week. Normally, I am not worried about my husband picking up a potentially fatal disease, or bringing it home to me, or passing it on to anyone else. Normally I am not the type of person who wants to throttle our premier for putting money and power and steel/pipe plants before people’s lives. Now things are not normal.
Anyway, I have been working on pulling myself together and being productive enough to keep myself from totally losing it. For the last couple of days, I have been working on becoming the domestic diva I plan to be once I retire at the end of July. My laundry (including bedding) is done, folded and put away, my house is somewhat tidy and our finances are in order.
Tomorrow it is supposed to start warming up outside. It will be easier once I can get outside and start cleaning up the yard, the barbecue, and the lawn furniture. It will be fun to start prepping and planning for our garden, flower beds and pond. It will be nice to get out and get some fresh air and SUNSHINE.
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!
It was 1994. With three teenagers to raise and provide for and a recent escape from unholy matrimony (as I referred to my first marriage), the last thing I wanted or needed in my life was a man. My life was good, happy and fulfilling.
For a couple of years things went along great. My kids and their friends filled our home with love and laughter. I filled it with groceries and other basic necessities. As the months went by, we were able to take my mother on an unforgettable family holiday. We moved from our little basement apartment to a much nicer and roomier duplex in a better part of the city. I traded in my battered and worn sedan for a sweet turbo charged convertible. Life was good.
The only downside to my life was that I was grieving the loss of my father who had recently passed away (although I always felt that he was very much with us through those years) and my health. I had lost an unhealthy amount of weight in previous years. I was working for a millwork company and was frequently in the warehouse, which was in the same building as our offices and showroom. I was, and am, asthmatic and seriously allergic to trees and everything tree related – wood, sawdust, wood smoke, feathers (birds have feathers and they live in trees). It still seems rediculous that I would put myself in such a situation but I loved the place and everyone in it.
Although everyone else at work was male, I didn’t really think anything of it and I didn’t really think anyone considered me as anything but one of the guys (who happened to always wear skirts, heels and makeup). A couple of years in, my bosses hired an autocad guy to work in the office. Since said bosses were busy on Dave’s first day, I took him out for lunch to welcome him to the team. He took the opportunity to hit on me. I told him in no uncertain terms that I did not date, would not date and dropped it. He did not, but he was not there long and he just never got anywhere with me. He did however, tell his friend Dan about the company. Dan had years of experience working for industrial steel companies. With a downturn in the economy, the company he had been working for went out of business and he had found himself unemployed.
Soon after, Dan walked into the office and asked to speak to Ken, one of my bosses. I took one look at him and ran to the other side of the warehouse to find Ken and to tell him that there was “a BIG native man there to see him”. (In my defence, I knew very few natives, had never seen a Hungarian before – and I was very sleep deprived at the time).
After a short interview, Ken hired Dan. Dan went home and was to start work in a couple of days. The day before he was scheduled to start, his mother passed away suddenly. He came to the office to explain the situation and his pain was obvious. He was very close to his mother. She was, to him and to all who knew her, a very special woman.
A few days later, Dan returned to start work. He was introduced to everyone and announced to the rest of the guys that he was there to work and marry the receptionist – me. Nobody told me of his plans or that he was Hungarian(which was totally irrelevant but it was hilarious that I was oblivious to the fact until a year later, after we had been living together for a month). I did however learn that he worked hard, took pride in his work, and that he stood up for himself and supported his fellow workers.
On July 31st, 1999 we were married. Our family and friends were there to support us. We had a beautiful wedding. We both agreed that as heaven’s gates opened for his mother, my father had been there to welcome her. Together they had conspired to bring us to each other.
By that point our economy had improved, Dan had gone to work at the pipe plant of our local steel factory and I had moved on to a healthier environment. We moved in to Dan’s house (an ongoing project) and we built a good life together. We have definitely had great times together, good times together and faced difficult and heart wrenching challenges together. We have come to love, respect and and admire each other. We have definitely learned to annoy each other and at times to take each other for granted.
This week, I realized how very much I love Dan, appreciate him and how perfectly suited we are for this life that we share. This week, Dan had a few days off between shifts. On Tuesday, I called him from work to tell him I was was very sick and struggling to breathe. He rushed over to pick me up and took me to the hospital emergency ward. He stayed by my side for six hours, on his last day off this week, to support me. When we got back home, he went to get my medication and pick up supper. The next evening, when he returned home from work, he told me some silly anecdote from work that made me laugh until my sides hurt. Last night we started talking about people winning large lotteries. I said my biggest concern, if we ever won, was that we would want such different things that it would be hard to find workable compromises. Dan agreed. Then we started talking about what each of us would want and our thoughts on the matter were almost identical. We had even both always thought of how important it was for us to show our appreciation to two special doctors. A few years ago Dan went to the emergency department with a blinding headache. A young doctor looked up from from his paperwork, yelled “get that man on a stretcher – he is septic” and proceeded to save Dan’s life. He was fantastic. My special doctor, went above and beyond to take care of me and keep Dan fully informed of what he was doing, after my lung collapsed and no one could repair it. He saved my lung (without surgery) for which I will always be grateful. Both of these men were such gifted physicians and such dedicated humanitarians – and they were both high on both of our lists of ‘lottery win’ priorities. (In the guise of their dream medical equipment I would expect).
I know – I had no want or need of a man in my life. Until he met me, Dan was quite content with his sports and his cat Hank. I am however, eternally grateful that my father and his mother felt otherwise.
‘I tip my hat to the keeper of our stars. They sure knew what they were when they joined these two hearts.’
Tomorrow is Saturday, which means Saturday morning shopping. Shopping is right at the top of things I do not like to do. When I have to go it alone, shopping is even worse. Dan is working nights this weekend, so alone it is.
The only good thing about Saturday morning shopping is going out for Saturday lunch. Since going out for lunch isn’t the same when Dan is working, I just go shopping. This obviously makes the shopping worse.
Finally, Dan and I have both been sick for a week or so. Last Saturday, Dan insisted on coming shopping, but once we got there he decided he didn’t feel well enough to actually shop, so I ran into Superstore to pick up a few groceries. The store was a zoo. Our Walmart, which is the only other ‘supermarket’ on this corner of the city has been closed for weeks due to cleanup from a small fire. Everyone has been shopping at Superstore.
I zipped through the aisles on hyperspeed, bypassing anything we didn’t need, I could not find, or was where I would have to play bumpercarts with those obnoxious customers who obviously knew what they needed and where it was. Not wanting to keep Dan waiting any longer than I had to, I zipped through the express cashier. I ran out to the Jeep with my haul – two sweaters, a scarf and a bag of Doritos. Dan decided he felt well enough to take me for lunch. (Maybe he just wasn’t hungry for Doritos)
This week we obviously need groceries. I will be on my own but I’m going to have to get it done. At least Walmart reopened a few days ago so us shoppers can spread out!