January 10, 2018 0 Comments Experience Working in Alberta's Oilfield

From Student to Business Owner and Investor- how did I get here?

Why am I here? How come me, the once to-be-destined academic prodigy destined to become a lawyer, elite academic to hold prestigious Master’s Degrees, or big shot investment banker, is now reduced to running a combo vacuum truck 1.5 hours away from civilization? Here I sit in my well-site shack eating garlic bread, apples, leftover turkey from Christmas, and instant noodles from plastic totes and paper towel. My client forgot to tell the cross-shift coworker to leave the company-supplied dishes for me.

At the back of my head still linger my former dreams of being graduated from UBC or University of Toronto at the age of 19 (I completed 3 years by that age)- to be on my way to graduate school, and eventually find myself in an elite law or investment firm. Or, I’d proceed to stretch the limits of my academic merit working on a doctorate in Economics (a subject I found great passion in at the time) or the like. I still wonder how things suddenly changed when my dreams perished to the unexpectedly stiff competition from elite Asian and Old Money families, dwindling finances, negatively-influential family relations and pressures, and bad women. Such a demise was completely unwarranted; since I was a child, over and over I was praised for my academic merit and career ambition:

You would had made a good lawyer. You were so smart; I remember always copying your answers in class since we were ten. You were finishing university by age 18. You graduated early [from high school]; we thought you couldn’t do it but you actually made it. One day you’ll have an oilfield services and trucking company and we’ll be working for you. You, this guy, were the computer King. You figure shit out. You’re going to buy your own truck[s] and get rich.

Even as I packed my bags and left to Alberta’s oilsands and later its vast oilfield, I was further demoralized as the promise of gold was only a pipe dream, unless you had connections and an industry-in-demand skillset- especially one of blue collar merit. Further financially and emotionally I was crushed, wondering if I’d even turn my life around, let alone ever see the road to my former dreams once again. I began my early Fort McMurray days working for below-market wages at a landscaping company home to mostly cheap temporary foreign workers, while I and a friend stayed in our boss’s greenhouse on an old mattress. We drove to the local leisure centre before work to use their shower and gym. Later on, I got to stay in the Salvation Army Homeless Shelter. Then it did not allow me back as I did not return back by a certain required time (I worked 12 hour days). I was then forced to another called the “Hope”, where we shared one central room with dozens of other homeless men too put on the street from false promises. Our belongings were all stripped upon arrival apart from some soap and shampoo.

The Winter of 2016- where oil and the hopes and dreams of the common Alberta were down to $26/barrel and on the verge of the end, was when my life took a sharp turn. Only 32 months ago I was making $16/hour moving grass and dirt living in the employer’s greenhouse; then I rose to $90,961 salary for working half of each month as I went to school part-time. I worked a lot in 2015; as much as 420+ hours in a busy summer month (105 hours/week, minus 2-3 days mandatory days off). All this money combined eventually bought me two condos in the next 16 months. Even as I was replaced with a boss’s soon-to-be-nephew willing to do my job for $22/hour, I laughed as I partied with an old friend and family, went to a $8,000 – 10,000/Mo. job in 3 weeks. Later then in realization I was to make only small, if any, income increases being a trucker or (non-industrial) electrician for someone else, I then started my own company, beginning as a contractor service provider. The main premise was to defer tax and gain tax write offs, maximizing earning power- especially taking into account the additional time value of money today versus the future.

The oilfield and my road of personal development has cost me many women and friends- whether due to physical and emotional distance, or an ideological split.

Most women want only easy love on their terms, and cannot handle a busy, difficult man- the less desirable characteristics required to shape the more desirable characteristics. Most women physically cannot stand a man being away from home, and will not hesitate to look for other men in his absence. Like a puppy, many women also have a constant need for attention and affection. Some need consistent verification of their attractiveness and self-worth. I prioritize my own future over satisfying these cravings and playing the young man’s Career of Chasing Young Dumb Girls. “Better myself before bettering someone else”, and “internal pacification before external absorption” have been my mottos.

One woman I’ve went to high school with bitterly turned against me, quoting me as “one of the most terrible people” she knew- merely just due to a split in life philosophy. (I’m more money and personal development driven, and believe in rationale over emotion; she is the reverse; the “just be happy with what you are, fuck and have kids, and hate the better off” type.)

The risk averse, especially those in the financial sector, and those others who praise the savings account and government job as a means to an end, form natural ideological splits between those with a mentality like that of myself- even within my own family. These people see us risk takers (commonly those seeking percentage returns above a few percent) as the devils of the financial world, who sin by taking risks with our own and the public’s money. These people wish for a generally equal social class, and demonize those looking to make the very best out of themselves. They fear the emergence of a superior ambitious class; they desire everyone to be molded into the same social fabric.

The oilfield has to date, been both a curse and blessing. It has divided myself from people, brought me away from my former academic and white-collar career dreams, and isolated me from the general public. It’s made me blunt and bitter. It’s made me downright impatient. It’s changed me from passive to aggressive.

In dating and everyday financial dealings, It’s made me convert from a take-it-slow, lenient, and forgiving mentality to a don’t waste my time, let’s get to the point mentality. I won’t be friends or take it slow with women anymore; without a kiss on date 1 or 2, or after 2-3 date requests responded with only an excuse for avoidance, I write her off as a loss and move on. Same goes for repeat ignored phone calls or messages; after a couple to few consecutive lack of responses, she becomes a write off. This has caused problems in my dating and love life as overtime, lack of punctuality has been generally accepted in today’s looser dating culture.

Even in public, such as disputing a banking charge, I find myself boiling in my blood and raising my voice in the local TD, uttering threats to seize business immediately if the issues were not immediately resolved. I find myself bluntly telling a waitress the slow pace and poor service of her staff. Once I have been just ordering yogurt at a McDonald’s and angrily requested my order be cancelled because of a long wait. The woman with me at the time calmed me down, and even offered to wait for it herself and take it. I have even caught myself saying “fuck you, go around you stupid cunt” at my local Superstore gas station to an angry old man remarking about my pump choice.

Whenever someone over the phone or hiring desk offers to keep my resume on file, or will just take my resume, I never look at the outfit again unless I do receive a phone call. I suddenly find my perceived inferiority or lack of meeting someone else’s expectation insulting, and a waste of time. I find it time inefficient to chase a false promise.

But then it has breathed me a new future- one unrealistic if I stayed in BC and chased degree after degree for $40,000/year careers and a fancy business card title beside my name.

But how would life look if I never left BC for Alberta’s oilfield? Where would I be right now? What would I have right now? How would I look right now? What would I be writing about right now? Would I be chasing credential after credential to write more titles beside my name on my business card, and beg HR to just give me a job? Would I be grateful just to have a job? Would I be grateful just to have love? Would I still be that skinny, passive guy being friends with a pretty woman in hopes to get with her one day? Would I still fear the taller, older man coming from a family from privilege and more desirable physical characteristics? Would I ever see even half of my income now? Would I ever even be a homeowner ? Would I see life little to nothing beyond going to university, getting a job, and throwing cash into the savings or GIC? Like the common man, would I still see a Ferrari and a textbook-perfect physique as unrealistic goals, outside being from the elite fortunate upper class?