Monday, July 6, 2009

Peter Pan wanted to be a Firefighter too

How old do have to be to stop chasing dreams? When is it time to say enough is enough, Peter Pan . . . grow up!? I’m not sure why I’m writing this entry. I guess because I haven’t contributed to the new blog at all and I’m at a difficult juncture in my life. A place where a difficult decision must be made, a possible career change. After all the blog should chronicle the life and times of the people blogging, shouldn’t it?

So here is my dilemma, I am a volunteer paid on-call firefighter and a laundry resource manager. I have two paying jobs. I love both jobs but for different reasons. One job I don’t have to explain to the reader it is kind of self explanatory. The other job I couldn’t explain in a hundred words or less so I won’t even try.

I can’t explain the laundry job but let me tell you why I love it. It always presents a challenge. The challenge can be major or minor and sometimes I overcome the challenge and other times it overcomes me. I guess that is the key to enjoyment of most jobs. I recently read a book about Flow. It was called Flow: The Optimal Experience and it was really insightful. It talked about the things like work and getting into the zone. The optimal experience occurs when you are at the edge of your skill set where skills meet challenge. Without getting too far into it, that is what I enjoy about my job.

What I don’t enjoy about my job is the travel. When I first started the job I was gone one week a month. I hated it. A shuffling of accounts and I was back to a couple of days a month. A few longer days instead of overnights and I was down to one day a month. Lately I’ve been up to the 3 or 4, sometimes 5 nights a month and quite frankly I see it getting worse not better. My boss probably spends 2 or 3 weeks a month travelling. My counterpart in Alberta is the same. They have been doing for years.

My wake call came 3 weeks ago. I was in Prince George, miles away from home counting soiled garments on a production line (yeah it doesn’t get much more exciting then that) I was in the middle of the line “42, 43, 44 . . .” (The phone rings . . wake up call)

“Can I call you back!”, I yell (it was very loud where I was standing). Without waiting for a response I hung up. I finished my task and called Jen back.

“The kids and I have been in a car accident . . .” She says in a distraught voice. She tells me the kids are okay but she has wrenched back.

I was absolutely floored in disbelief. I couldn’t believe I hung up on her a moment ago.. I started to tremble. I was at least a plane ride away. I just wanted to be home. I couldn’t get a flight out as it was already 3:30 in the afternoon. The earliest I could get home was the next morning. which I did. At that point I thought that things would have to change.

So what about this crossroads? Well my fire department is going to a career hall which means a lot of phasing out of guys like me but not a complete phase out. They will still have a need for volunteers when the volume of calls spikes. When they first announce the department was going career I thought about briefly . . .the pay is really bad. But then I heard rumor that they were going to start the first four at first class rate. First class rate is what I make now but without bonus. Bonus is something you see when the economy is good. I didn’t see a bonus this year so in my eyes I’m trading one for one.

So my dilemma is applying for a position with the fire department. I have wanted this to happen for as long as I’ve been a firefighter. But with each passing year I see my chances slipping away. I was almost at the point where I was ready to pack it in a leave the job for someone else but then the posting came up and I couldn’t resist it. I had to apply. One more kick at the can.

For the last week or so I’ve been shaking my head in disbelief or possibly with the faint hope that yes it will work out financially.

The Chief is keeping the salary thing pretty close to his chest. Even on the application it states “Salary :TBA”. I say WTF?

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