Saturday, April 21, 2007

Mis-adventures in Hinton… umm Alberta

It has been many days since I’ve posted anything. For anyone looking for Weekend in Africa part 2… well it just went through several drafts and then I gave up. Here is the short version and then I’ll get on with my current adventure.

I did my job in Freetown. Grabbed a helicopter to the airport. Got taken for over 120$ of my boss’ money from a very large black man. Threatened without words of being body cavity searched for blood diamonds… spent several hours sitting on an airport apron and then came home. Since I’m still alive, I will gladly invite anyone reading this to drop by my place for coffee and I’ll tell the much longer version complete with sound effects.

Moral is, don’t go to Sierra Leone.

Now for where I currently find myself: Hinton.

I came here to do a specific job, having been recently fired by the asshole who sent me to Sierra Leone. (yet another blog entry in the making.)

I used to be a firefighter. Not just any firefighter; a rappel firefighter. It remains my most favorite and very best job. I did it for 8 summers, so I must have loved it.

Basically the job is waiting around for a forest fire. When you get called you get in a helicopter with 7 other people who become closer than family, fly to wherever that fire might be, and slide down a couple hundred of feet of rope and put out the fire. It sounds very Hollywood, but the reality isn’t the stuff of cheesy movies. It is mostly fun because you get to hang out with some pretty interesting people and have some very fine adventures. It is a job that keeps you artificially young and there really isn’t enough of those in this world.

So flash forward to my crappy media job ending suddenly freeing me up to head out west to participate in the training of the new generation of rappel kids. It is the privilege of alumni of this small group to return and instruct for the three weeks of training, if they can swing it and haven’t burnt any bridges with management.

So here I am in Hinton as a honest to god rappel instructor (looks so cool on a resume) being the hard ass that I really am not.

This camp is run like a boot camp. It often seems harsh to outside folk, and to the rookies, but we are asking people to jump out of a helicopter 250 feet above the ground and be happy about it. You also want to be careful exactly who you let into your little club.

I miss the work, but not so much that I would think of coming back full time. As I’m finding out, you can only get older and I still haven’t managed to get my ass out of bed to join the rookies in their daily 6am fitness.

Mostly I just manage to make breakfast and off to the morning meeting. The commute is not long… no traffic on most days as I just have to walk about 500 feet down a hill and attend the morning meeting where we joke around and tell old stories before the guy in charge tries to cling to some sort of control and tell us not to make the rookies cry so much.

The other instructors are for the most part people who I trained at some point. So suddenly I’m an old timer telling old stories while younger folk patiently listen to me. I don’t know if they are merely politely putting up with me.