It has been a HUGE couple of weeks since my last post! I got a pretty impressive graduation and birthday present in the form of my dear brother. He was flown over as a surprise and we had a chance to spend a bit of time together before I headed off to my FIFO adventure. Although it was mostly fun spending time with him, it was also a bit stressful. He who knows me pretty well and kept telling me that if I wasn’t careful around the equipment on site, then I would DIE! Yes, just the sort of brotherly love and encouragement I needed before I headed off. As if I wasn’t nervous enough without his very positive words of encouragement!
I am happy to report that I survived my first swing and that I loved every minute of it. Well, maybe there was a total of about a few hours in the whole eight days that I didn’t love too much. About a third of which involved dealing with flies or midges and the rest dealing with Negative Nancy’s who just moan about everything. Yes, there’s a few of those in every workplace. Luckily though, none on my crew! I couldn’t even begin to tell you how great my crew has been. Having walked into their world without any prior experience and possibly having taken the spot their mate with several years of experience could have had, I was undoubtedly nervous, or to be more precise – I was shitting myself!
On the way to the airport for my flight out, at about 5am, I had my first moment of “what the heck am I doing”. A bit of panic set in and I was full of nerves for a good few hours. Luckily I knew a number of guys at the airport enabling me to release my nerves by teasing them. Anyway, the nerves were very much a distant memory by the end of the day. The number of people who were excited to have “the HR girl” on the crew, who said “good on ya”, and who told me to relax and just ease myself in rather than stressing about what I know and don’t know was mind blowing. Only one person gave me a good natured ribbing about my “stupid decision” to leave the comforts of an air-conditioned office to go and get dirty in the plant. What was overwhelming was the number of guys who offered me their time and knowledge whenever I needed a hand or needed to know anything – from the operators, to the fitters and the engineers, they were all happy to help. A lot also shared stories of when they started, back in the day when they had no idea what they were doing. The best advice they were ever given and the best methods they used to learn. The abundance of positivity and support was brilliant!
I haven’t even started on the camp! I nearly dropped my plate when the Camp Manager referred to me by name on the second day. How did she know? She knew everyone’s name and was extremely friendly. Can’t complain about the food too and the rooms, small but cosy, with a touch of snoring neighbours. There isn’t any mobile reception or reliable Wi-Fi, but it’s nice to be disconnected and to just chill during the night – this coming from someone who has a very strong attachment to my phone and email!
I had to get used to early to bed and early to rise. I did well for the first five days then struggled on the sixth day. Sparrows fart starts got a bit hard on that sixth day. Not entirely sure why, but I am telling you I most definitely struggled that day. Luckily there was a barbecue that night which kept my motivation levels up. Everyone had been talking it up all swing so I was looking forward to the feed. The guys did not disappoint! There was the usual fare of steaks and snags, but also the highly hyped especially marinated pepper steaks. The guys had been raving about it all week, naturally I was excited and salivating. It didn’t disappoint. If anyone got between me and that steak at the next barbecue, they will suffer because I will smack anyone down for another one of those yummy pepper steaks.
Oh, and on laundry night I discovered that I unfortunately have inherited my mother’s slight OCD. Whilst waiting for my laundry to finish I hang around the laundry for a while. It was a good spot to get to know people as they came and went. However, I also had a very strong urge to check the lint filters in the dryers as people left with their finishing washing. Yes, I was checking on each machine as it was vacated. Sad but true. That night, I also discovered that no good deed goes unrewarded! Whilst being super cool and hanging around the laundry, I offered to transfer one of the guys washing into the next available dryer. He had to head back to his room and I was hanging around anyway so I figured I’d offer. The minute the next dryer became available I moved his stuff. When he realised what I had done he bought me a beer. Good system right?
Overall, I had a fantastic first swing. It was scary at first but as I got to know the crew, I felt more comfortable. The amount of support and encouragement I received from the people I came across in the eight days was unbelievable. I have a feeling this move isn’t only positive for my career but also for my personal development. The downside though is that I now automatically wake up at 4.30am and start fading at about 8.30pm – yes, 8.30 is now my official bedtime. To think I used to complain when my mom demanded a 10pm curfew back in the day. I would be lucky to stay up past 10pm at this point!