Surmont 2 is the second phase of a SAGD (Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage) plant that will remove the oil from oil sand deposits deep in the ground using steam. This means no large open pit mines and no see-from-space tailings ponds. I am foreman on the back shift for a small crew doing installation of instrumentation. Our schedule is 14 and 7 which means we will be here 2 weeks and out 1 week. The first week the larger crew is here and the second week we are on our own. Foremen and general foremen are still considered crafts people and are on the 14-7 day schedule, but staff people are on a 10 and 4 schedule so we do not lack for management continuity and have no fear of being lonely on the back shift.
I am working for one of the bigger contractors. They are very experienced and have the people and processes in place to manage large projects.
Once one is on site for the two week work term there is no leaving. There are exceptions to that rule, of course. Ambulance would be one, but it is an exceptionally safety focussed site, so you don't hear of many ambulances leaving.
Another way of leaving would be by breaking an "absolute" rule which is part of the reason it is such a safe site.
My camp room is about 50% bigger than the last construction camp I stayed in. It is about 12 feet by 12 feet and has its own bathroom! The food and facitlities are as advertised. The workday is 10 paid hours: 3 hours work - half hour break - 3 hours work - half hour break - 3 hours work - get on bus back to camp about ten minutes away.
Once there are thousands of people all back at the camp at the same time the wi-fi connection gets a little overwhelmed. I managed to write this by getting up at 3 a.m. when there are fewer people using the network.
A Book Review That Changed My Life
There was a newspaper clipping on the bulletin board where I worked. An author was visiting Vancouver, BC promoting her new book “Never Work for a Jerk”. Included in the description of her upcoming lecture and why one should never work for a jerk was a ten point evaluation of one’s boss for jerkhood. Mine passed with flying colours. “Yeh. Good point!” I said to myself and went home and sent off a resume to somebody who had left our company for a progressive family firm starting a pulp mill in Alberta.
I had worked for my employer near Vancouver for seventeen years and risked leaving a job that wasn’t bad for content and was unparalleled for job security. Nevertheless the risk and the move was worth it. I ended up working for the best boss of my career and embarked on a learning curve that lasted eighteen years to my retirement from a senior management position. Not every subsequent boss was perfect, but I have never regretted acting on the advice to never work for a jerk.
The book is still available as used copies. Maybe it is worth reading the three hundred plus pages. Can’t help you there. All I needed was the book review. Lately I have been reflecting on its content and on how, as Stephen King says, “things can change on a dime” and how miserable and frustrated I would have been if I had opted for security and chosen to retire on active duty at age 39.