Like I have stated so many times before, one of the best parts about traveling and “tramping” for J.O’s job as a Journeyman Lineman with the IBEW is that we have the freedom to go wherever and whenever we want (to a certain degree of course). If it’s too cold in one state, we’ll drag up and head to a job in a warmer climate (i.e. living in Hawaii for 9 months!). If we’re missing our families, we’ll pack up and move back to Minnesota for the summer (like we are now!). But with each new job and new location, there is always a little give and take.
One job may be in paradise, but J.O may have to work 6-7 days a week. One gig could be perfect for the hours we want, but it may be run-of-the-mill work, which gets boring after awhile. Another job may have a higher contracted wage while also offering per-diem, but we may be located in the middle of nowhere or in a place with a higher cost of living and no campgrounds to park at. The next local’s contracted wage might be lower than the last, but the location may be ideal (with a lower cost of living) and the job itself may be worth it’s weight in experience and/or thrill alone. Either way, you get the drift and the job that J.O is on now is no different when it come to the “give and take” factor.
When we decided to come back to Minnesota for the summer, we knew that our number one goal was to be able to spend time with friends and family. Work was not going to be our priority while in town and we knew that if the right job came up, that a few more gives might have to come with the takes. The job that J.O is on right now is ideal for our situation. It’s located in the heart of St. Paul (only a 20 min drive from our home town; also allowing us the option to not have to set up camp and instead continue to live in a house with my parents), the work is new to J.O so it’s a great learning experience (they’re building the new light rail), and the normal set hours are Monday- Friday 6:30am-6:30pm (weekends and evenings off while still getting in the hours we’re accustomed to). So, there’s our take for the job. Now, time for the give.
Because of all the things that we were able to take from this job, there really isn’t too much in the give factor that seems to be of issue. A few small things such as, hitting rush hour traffic on J.O’s drive home, it being a slower paced job than what he is used to, the contractor not providing any F.R (fire retardant) clothing and no per-diem.
And then there is the one bigger give: Night Shift Scheduled Outages.
Now, in case you’re unaware of what a scheduled outage is, it is where the power company and the contractor arrange with the customer for a scheduled amount of time for the power to be turned off. Durning this time, work is done that may not be able to be be completed as safe or as efficiently (if at all) as if when the power was on. Typically, for business areas, these outages are arranged to happen at night. For J.O’s job, they are not only having a scheduled outage for local businesses but also for the current operating section of the light rail.
Now, we’re used to a night shift here and there. Heck, J.O is used to working 48-72 hours straight when out on a storm call! But, there is something about turning your daily schedules around 180 degrees for an extended period of time. The guys are are working from 9pm-6am (possibly 9am) for the next 10 days straight. We’re only on day 3 and already I don’t know how people do it, and I’m not even the one working! Everything seems so screwed up time wise! I don’t know if I should offer J.O breakfast food when he wakes up in the evening or a plate of the tacos I made my parents and I for dinner. I wake up in the morning to have a cup of coffee and he’s walking in the door to relax on the couch with a beer after a full day…night…worth of work. He gets his sleeps durning the day while I try to continue with my normal routine, which doesn’t seem normal at all because I know he’s downstairs sleeping and it makes me feel like he has the day off work, which he doesn’t at all. Then when he does wake after a full nights, no, days worth of sleep, it feels like I haven’t seen him in over 24 hours. We’re both already screwed up on what day it is! I make a new pot of coffee at 7pm, pack a lunch and send him off to work. Then, after, my relaxing evenings that I’m used to are not as clear minded with out him. I’ve never slept well when he’s gone at night: my mind tends to worry and then get the best of my melatonin, making it hard to sleep the night through…Insomnia strikes again, I say! Then I wake and it starts again. It’s nutty! Hopefully, after the outage is over the guys have a few days off to get back on a “normal” day schedule.
With that, I give BIG BIG kuddos to all the many people (including our cousins!) that live and are able to find a rhythm with this schedule! Highest respect.
Luckily, this won’t be going on for the entire summer and like I mentioned before, we have so many other great “takes” that came with this job that we knew that the “gives” had to come from somewhere! Plus, with this night shift outage “give”, J.O was able to be at home and awake for our nephew’s very first Track and Field Day for his kindergarten class. That alone made the first night shift worth it: a great give and take.