January 30, 2015 0 Comments Experience Working in Alberta's Oilfield

Out of Work Blues

Since December 10 I have been out of work. After my construction job hauling heavy equipment and water dried up, I went to an oilfield services company to run their vacuum trucks. I found that company by observing the trucks on the highways, then saw their truck, and proceeded to leave them a resume.

When I started, I had to be a swamper first to observe how the trucks run. The hours were very good when I first started, with some shifts as long as 26 hours. However, by the time I was left to run the trucks on my own, I had only a week or two of work until it dried up. After Christmas, I did not hear back, and when I contacted them again later in January, I was learned that all of us were laid off and all trucks sat in the yard.

Getting EI has been unsuccessful to now, as I was missing 2 ROEs – one from my most previous company, and another from one in the summer. I am still waiting for them. So since then, I had no EI income either.

Since then I have been sitting in coffee shops almost everyday refreshing Kijiji and Indeed looking for work. I also tried to find a 1st year electrician job, but without luck. I Googled a list of local electrical contractors and called them one by one- some even more than once to follow up. I even searched for vacuum and water truck companies in Saskatchewan, Fort St John, and all of Alberta- and called some of them. The resumes I sent alone from e-mails I’ve acquired through phone calls easily exceeded 120, and dozens of replies of Kijiji and Indeed ads were sent. I had an interview and was offered work, but never heard from them ever again despite calling back a few times – though the wage was very low and I would had been unable to live on the wage unless I got a second job.

Christmas was a very gloomy time for me, as I sat around watching my bank account trickle down- afraid to travel anywhere or go out somewhere to take it easy, unsure when I would have work next. I spent most of my spare time sitting in coffee shops looking for work on my laptop, drinking coffee to pass the time. Occasionally I would window-shop cars that I probably couldn’t buy for another 10 years- nice ones that I may possibly be able to half-realisticly afford by then like the Ferrari F430 or Lamborghini Gallarado, Porsche 911. Everyday aside from 2-3, I went to the gym to train- to get stronger, look better, grow faster, and feel better. I paid closer attention to my diet and made some modifications, and most importantly decided to add mass again as of 1.5 weeks ago.

I also had an on-going though unreliable part-time moving job that paid cash. I did this during my down-time and made an extra 1500$ or so. It was hardly enough to make a significant dent in my rising budget deficit, but enough to pay for rent, fuel, food, and groceries.

I had issues sleeping- frantically wondering how long my money would last, whether my car would get reprocessed, whether I would lose my place, when I would have work again, and if ever. Angry at the world I was everytime someone in a business suit sat near me in the coffee shop- someone at a stage of life I wanted originally so bad, and despite my sacrifices over the years I was watching myself perish steadily. I even called UBC to see if I could go back to school (since I would receive government funding) and tried applying for a loan to take the Power Engineering program as a last resort to save myself using the government funding, but to no avail as I was too late into the semester, and apparently a loan was not available for the online PE program. I remember one noteworthy character bragging about how she was only a year older than me and making 6-figures in a white-collar role, with a spouse, a house, and vehicle. Coming across these people brought back bitter memories from when I was back home in Vancouver and working up in Fort Mac- how other young people were so much ahead of me as I struggled to keep myself on my feet, and they seemed to have it so easy. I have not seen my family and friends for almost 2 years now.

Yesterday I saw an ad on Kijiji for a construction labourer job, paying $18/hour. Thinking work was better than none, immediately I drove to the office to hand my resume and talk to a recruiter. She bluntly told me that I would run off if my previous employer called me back or someone else offered me another oilfield and/or trucking job, and didn’t hand it to me. Most noteworthy however, was how around a dozen other people went in and out that office seeking that same job within that half an hour or so I was in there- one a welder from Ft Mac.

But, I found another vacuum truck job yesterday and signed my offer letter. 6/1 rotation in camp up north until then. $325/day + 100 LOA. The primary beauty of camp is very low living expenses, so I will bank more money. It is work until March 31 only, but I still have my construction heavy equipment hauling job beginning sometime in March – May depending on weather conditions. All those bitter days sitting in the coffee shops making cold calls, refreshing web pages, typing emails, looking at shit I could never buy, and all the other above- paid off, for now. I am hoping for the best that this gig remains consistent, my mental and physical health remains good so I can keep my head up, and oil prices to go back up. Tax return time is in about a month, and according to my calculations I should receive $4000 or so. Together with that, and my proceeds from my gig, should be more than enough to eliminate the budget deficit I incurred in 2014, 2015 January, and savings to go into mid to late 2015- even a downpayment for a house.