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Treading Water

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(Vent/Rant Warning)

It's been a while since I've felt this exhausted. I feel like I've been caught in a never ending grind, devoid of hope of a better tomorrow any time soon. While I was in college, I was brimming with passion and desire. I was keen to soak up all the knowledge I could to break into a highly sought after field with a very high paying salary. I could endure the sleepless nights, the perpetual destitution, and the stress of the provincial examinations for my 4th and 3rd Class Power Engineering certificates. I was so proud back them. I beat the odds and overcame all obstacles with sheer will and determination. It's only fitting that my luck would have all plant jobs dry up right around my graduation day when the price of oil crashed.

It's been about 8 years, and even the remaining embers of my passion grow cold.

I managed to get into a similar field with Building Operations (Facility Maintenance) shortly after graduating, I caught a lucky break there. The pay was not great, but well above unskilled work. Most of the skills I had to learn on the job since school taught me skills that don't really apply. I persisted nevertheless, did pretty well on my next job, and even on my current one, for the most part. I've been here for 3.5 years now. No way to move up to a senior role unless my boss retires or quits. I've learned everything in this field, save for leadership and management (no openings anywhere). With my mortgage and other bills, I make enough to keep my head above water, but not enough to actually have a life, save for very cheap hobbies. I find it odd that when I was a broke student, I had more joy in life than I do now. It's such a strange sensation.

The current state of the Alberta economy is a joke. Our Canadian Prime Minister actively seeks to gut our economy further with nonsense policies that push investors, thereby jobs, out of our country. I'm hoping with the election in October there might be change, but I'm not sure it will be enough to undo the damage. Looking at the rising rate of unemployment and suicide rates, I'm doing better than most in Calgary, hell, even most in Alberta, but I still long for a chance to get into the field I studied.

I see jobs posted online all the time. Some are laughably absurd. 10 years experience for an entry level position. The job is a contract position, so you have zero safety net and can be removed for literally any reason. My risk tolerance is zero. I lose my job, I'll be homeless. The banks don't care; they need their money at the end of the month no matter what. Selling my house will be a bad move since I'll get bottom dollar in this market.

I recently got called for a potential job at a rendering plant in town. Oh boy, I felt the old surge of excitement come alive again. High pressure steam boilers and aux equipment, a maze work of piping to feed industrial processes, and a very healthy wage to boot. I can't say I'm crazy about rendering, I'd prefer O&G, but damn it felt good to see my real profession in action. I'd love to get a chance at being the operator at a plant where I'm in charge of keeping the boilers running, the beating heart of any plant. I got a call back and it came down to me and another guy with a better resume. Felt good to be shortlisted from 200 applicants, but still. I got my hopes up a bit too much lol.

So that leads me to what I've been doing for so long, treading water.

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  1. thefloridapoet's Avatar
    I want to acknowledge your post, but didn't think a "like" or "LOL" was quite the appropriate response. Life can be frustrating and wrought with disappointment and I am sorry you are going through a rough patch. However, I can say that from what I have read of your work (and creative comments, blogs) on this website you have enviable writing skills. So, even if you haven't as of yet found employment in your chosen field of facility management, you do have a talent that many desire (that of writing), but will never be able to achieve. That is something to be very proud of, and to take great satisfaction from. All the best to you.
  2. Winston's Avatar
    I'm bad at empty platitudes, so I just won't. I'm good at being a cold, heartless prick, but I won't go there either.

    Your career may seem important, but it is only a small part of who you really are. A pilot can lose his sight. An athlete may lose his legs. But the drive that makes one successful is the gift that can't be taken.
    And success is simply what you define success to be. NOT what other define for you. Trust me, putting your self-worth in the hands of folks that don't know you will not provide happiness.

    I'll stop now, but just think about what your real priorities are. Money? Social status? The validation of asshole strangers? Or something else?
  3. Stygian's Avatar
    My definition of success is simply to have enough financial freedom to take calculated risks and persue hobbies and activities that will enrich my life. I've long since stopped caring about nonsense materialism or the opinions of people. The catch is, I still need to pay my mortgage. Even with my good credit, I can't get a multi billion dollar loan to open a plant, so I'll be reliant on someone's opinion of me in order to get hired.

    I'm not asking for handouts or sympathy. My only desire is to get a chance to get out of facility maintenance and into plant/process operations so I can put all my skills to use. I put in the work, I turned my 8 year streak of pyrrhic victories into something tangeble, a feat onto itself. Unless the economy picks up, or I get super lucky, nothing will change. I'm not sure I can take another 10 years of this. I mean, it's not like I have much choice, freezing to death in -40C doesn't sound very appealing lol

    This post was mostly for venting. I'm on call, so it's generally frowned upon to be stinking drunk.
  4. Plasticweld's Avatar
    Is there any chance of you starting your own business to put your skills and talents, more importantly your drive to good use?

    I know nothing about the Canadian business climate but do know about making money and keeping customers happy. Supply and demand always work, no matter where you live. Pm me if you want to talk about it privately, I mentor a number of small business owners.
  5. Stygian's Avatar
    Unfortunately no, I won't be able to start a business in my field. Every place that uses hot water or steam will be contracted out to a big company in order to deal with liability issues. If the economy was booming, I might be able to try taking contract work on the side, but I haven't seen anything available right now. Would be a great side hustle to get extra income.

    Thanks, I'll shoot you a PM once I get a chance. I'd love to write down some pointers for future use.
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