Continued from Part 9
I woke up early, eagerly anticipating the first day my new job.
I’m up, showered, and sitting in a nearby McDonald’s waiting on the call from my boss. Let’s call him Steve.
The clock on my tablet reads 11 a.m. Still nothing.
I recalled the moment I first saw the company’s web site.
It looked like it was built in 20 minutes. A thought hit me like a battering ram to the chest.
“What if there is no job?”
I text Steve, asking nonchalantly when he would like me to start.
“The job got pushed. I’ll let you know when I need you.”
OK, this must be an unusual circumstance. I’ll take advantage of the down time and enjoy it.
I spent the rest of the day wandering around the South Gate mall, stopping to eat Burger King and to get a hair cut.
A fancy haircut that cost me $60.
This is the type of shit I’ll be enjoying from now on.
Two more days passed. Still nothing.
I decided to downgrade my hotel so I don’t run out of credit. So I packed up and moved to a cheaper hotel down the street.
My new room wasn’t as nice as the last one, but it was a place to sleep and would save me a few bucks. Oh, and it was cold. I could see my breath inside the room.
It was -36 c outside, and I had no heat in my room.
I didn’t go to the front desk and tell them my room was an ice box. Why? I felt like an intruder in a new town, and I didn’t want to ruffle feathers.
I realize how ridiculous that sounds, but it’s my best explanation.
If you’ve never slept in sub zero temperatures, I’ll confirm your assumption. It’s hard.
I took a scorching hot bath, put on my thermals, shorts, sweat pants, 2 layers of wool socks, a tank top, t-shirt, and a hoodie.
I pulled the sheets over my head, and prayed for sleep to arrive without hypothermia.
I did this for two nights. I wandered the mall during the day.
As I walked past a Forever 21, I texted my dad, “… I came all the way out here to starve.”
I finished executing my stay-warm strategy for the third night in a row when my phone rang. It was Steve.
“We’ve got a job. Come to the station now.”
Now? Like, 8 o’clock at night?
Whatever, I’m pumped to get started. Though, I have no idea if I’m going to be working a night shift, a day shift, or where in the world I’m going to be sent.
I set the GPS for the address of the station, and hit the road.
With a 1 hour drive ahead of me, I’m thrilled and nervous at the same time.
Within 30 minutes the city lights disappeared behind me, and I drove deeper into the darkness.
It was right around this time my GPS flipped out and started rerouting. Minutes went by and it never did find a new route. I was starting to panic.
I rely heavily on GPS. As a result I don’t pay close enough attention to my surroundings.
When I called Steve to let him know I was lost, I didn’t even know which highway I was on.
He was pissed and hung up the phone.
5 minutes later I got a call from his 20 year old business partner, Spencer.
He was more patient, and with a little work, got me on the right path to the station.
“Just be on the lookout for a major intersection, and turn right there.”
A major intersection? I’m miles deep in the woods. I pulled into a gas station and regrouped.
I’m an anxious person, by both nature and nurture. At this point in my life I hadn’t developed any coping mechanisms. I was steeped in angst, and swam in stress.
This trip to the fire station was getting to me.
My phone rang again. It was my boss, asking me where I was. So I looked at the signs I saw so I could give him an accurate description.
I saw a sign with “Liquor Store” hand-painted onto it.
High above the gas pumps I see ‘Esso.’
“I’m at an Esso.”
“What the fuck? You’re right beside the intersection you were supposed to turn at.”
“I thought it was a major intersection. This one definitely isn’t a major intersection.”
“It’s all fucking lit up and everything. Hurry the fuck up we have a long trip ahead of us.”
OK, I get it. I’m off to a terrible start.
I referenced every screw up I could think of.
I sucked in school, I’ve been broke my whole life, I got drunk and crashed my car, lost my job…
…now I can’t find my way to this job.
I’m officially a screw-up, bumbling through life like an idiot.
According to my directions, I’m supposed to turn left here, but it’s a dirt road. This whole thing feels off.
I drive down the dirt road for 7 minutes, and see red lights spinning on top of a fire truck.
There we go.
But as I pulled into the drive way I was confused.
This was a farm. Just some guys farm, with one “fire truck” (it looked like a bread truck with lights on the roof) parked on the grass.
The ‘fire station’ matched the web site.
Have you ever thought to yourself, “What the fuck am I doing?”
My decision to go deep in debt, and move across the country all alone to be met with this bread truck in a field… multiply “What the fuck am I doing?” x1000.
I’ve made some poor decisions in my life. This one grabbed a spot in my top 3.
I got out of my car and was met with my boss’s son, Tim. He was 17 years old, friendly, and guided me towards a small wooden shed.
“Let’s get you fitted for gear.”
I slid on an XL bunker coat, and felt mouse shit rolling down my arm and out the sleeves.
“This one fits fine.”
Once I had my gear packed, Tim introduced me to Steve. Steve gave me a tour of the truck, and explained how the water systems work. Then we hit the road.
It’s now 10:30 p.m. We have a 4 hour drive north, and a job that starts at 6:00 a.m. the next morning.
I text Maria to let her know I’m headed 4 hours north to share a hotel room with a dude I just met and start a job at the crack of dawn.
She was asleep, so I got no reply.
I spent the next 4 hours staring out the windshield into the oncoming blackness.
To Be Continued...