Swing Five: I’m the Queen of Wishful Thinking

‘Tis the season for lists – presents list, shopping list, guest list, to do list and party preparation lists. ‘Tis the season for it indeed! Supposedly there is also some double checking of lists involved at this time of year but I may just leave that one to Santa.

I have noticed a lot of lists over the last couple of weeks  (suggestions for presents to get your loved ones being the most common one) so I thought I would put together my own Christmas Wish List, with strong emphasis on the “wish” part of things. My list won’t include the usual. No KitchenAid. No Georg Jensen bling or the latest bestseller – PLEASE no 50 Shades for me under the Christmas tree this year! My Christmas Wish List is more of a site wish list really. Completely fanciful, sprinkled with fairy dust, I am completely dreaming list!

  • Process Operator/Process Technician Common Sense and Strength – A lot of people seem to think that being an operator is easy. I am sure that once I get the hang of things then it will be easier but for the moment there are moments when it feels like I am swimming against the current. Most of the things I trip on are the simple things as well – the fact that it takes me two days to hose an area that one of the experienced guys can cover in a couple of hours is frustrating. Also, it would be brilliant if I could undo a hose on my own and be able to lift the hoses from one area to another. Yes, this will all come with experience (and a bit of body building) but it would be nice to have a bit of that operator sensibility and muscle now. With it I would be much more useful!
Definitely need more practice on the hose!
Definitely need more practice on the hose!
  • Magic Pills – Pills that would kick this fear of heights out of my system would be absolutely awesome. I get better as the swing goes on but on that first day when I have to trek up the top one of the buildings, getting through six sets of stairs with 14 steps each is a bit of a struggle. Especially since the stairs are on the outside and the drop is pretty scary! Also, whilst we are on the topic of magic pills, pills that melt away all the calories consumed with the endless yummy food and beer on hand would also be very much appreciated!
  • Elevators or Escalators – There are days when having to climb up the numerous stairs isn’t as easy as other days. I don’t want to use the elevators or escalators daily. Maybe we can have one day per swing where we can have the luxury of these inventions. Since all the exercise I do on site are the stairs and walking, I wouldn’t want to get rid of them straight out. Just the lazy option every now and again would be great!
  • Room Service – Still on the lazy track, room service at least once or twice per swing would be brilliant! I have had days where I just don’t want to move when I get to camp. To think that I haven’t even had to do a full 12 hour shift! Again, I wouldn’t want room service to be readily available as the interaction in the mess is pretty good but it would be a good option for some days I say!
  • Laundry Service – Supposedly this is a reality in some sites. Unfortunately not in ours. It’s perfectly fine when you manage to get in early but when you have to wait, laundry ends up taking up your whole night which means no sleep and grumpy bum the next morning. Also the dryer really does stuff up the clothes. Yes, I am convinced it’s the dryer shrinking my clothes and nothing else.
Laundry time! Minus the birdies please
Laundry time! Minus the birdies please
  • Foot Spa – Nothing fancy, just one of those run of the mill ones you can get from the Chemist will do. At the end of the day, the only thing that could be better than a nice cold beer would be a nice warm foot spa! I don’t think anyone would object to a full spa service on camp but let’s start with the small things here and focus on the foot spa. Then we can incorporate some reflexology, Swedish massage, mocha wrap and exfoliation down the track right?
  • Fly Deflecting Helmet – Not sure if this has been invented but anyone working in remote sites would agree that flies are a bugger especially in summer. We do have fly masks but they are not the most comfortable things and the little buggers still manage to get in there. Someone needs to come up with a helmet which has a mechanism that deflects flies and midgies. Life on site would be so much nicer I think!
  •  The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future – It would be brilliant if these folks could pay a visit to some of the scrooge’s on site and cure them of their bah humbugs to make life for all of us a lot better. How good would that be? Just a few visits and boom, glass half full instead of woe is me.
A cure for the Bah Humbugs!
A cure for the Bah Humbugs!
  • A Genie – I know Mr. Genie doesn’t usually feature around Christmas time but I need him on my wish list. A genie should be on standby for all the things we need, not just for three wishes as well but for everything we need. I wouldn’t want him to do my work for me but I just need him to provide tools and equipment as we desire. Like getting a bobcat when we need one rather than waiting a whole swing to get one fixed and not being able to do anything. If we had a genie, we could just summon him and snap, we get what we need. I enjoy the work involved so I don’t want him doing my dirty work, just a little help when needed.
Three won't be enough, lets go with enedless wishes please!
Three won’t be enough, lets go with enedless wishes please!
  • A bit of pixie dust when needed would be appreciated too!

That’s my wish list for now. You were warned that it would be very fanciful. Hey, dreams are free right? Although I dream of these things, I must say that I couldn’t really ask for too much this Christmas. I am very content in every aspect of my life at this point and enjoying my new career. People telling me how proud they are of me means a whole lot and (on most days) is enough to get me through all the stairs, flies and bah humbugs I have to deal with.

I do my first night shift swing starting on Christmas Eve. I am excited to be hanging with Santa and my crew on the first night and hoping that the excitement will get me through the whole seven night swing. I am taking cookies and cupcakes for a midnight feast on site on Christmas Eve.

Christmas goodies for the crew!
Christmas goodies for the crew!

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas. I wish myself the best of luck for the next week. Suffice to say I will not be partying hard on New Year’s Eve. See you all in 2013!

Working over Christmas isn't so bad 'cause I get to hang with Santa anyway!
Working over Christmas isn’t so bad ’cause I get to hang with Santa anyway!

Swing Four: Teething Issues

Apologies for the late post, I had a baby filled break. Hanging around babies ranging in age from 12 days to 10 months. Yes, all my mates are having little babies in 2012! And yes, a couple of the babies also had teething issues.

That aside, I want to start this post with what happened during my previous break. Thanks to some social media whinging about my blisters, I managed to get my tootsies into an extremely comfortable pair of purple Steel Blue Argyle’s. Thanks again Miss Saviour B – owe you BIG time! Thanks to my very comfy purple boots, I had very happy feet all swing. Although it did make me a target for a fair bit of teasing. From the moment I walked into the airport up until they were covered in mud and were no longer purple. As much as the boots made me a target I found myself cleaning them up every couple of days! Which resulted in getting teased even more for being daft and cleaning my work boots regularly. Most people asked if I had spray painted my safety boots or if I was wearing real safefy boots. Steel Blue if you need a rep to spruik the purple Argyle’s, I reckon I would look great next to the great Mr Lillie.
20121211-195855.jpgHis and Hers Purple Argyle’s… ‘Cause thats how we roll

Although my feet were very happy, my fourth swing was challenging mentally. My new mate Manual Labour was ever present of course but a new challenge presented this swing. Having been around for a few swings now, I am starting to get a better sense of the working environment and the perceived heirarchy across departments and amongst the ranks. A few people also have their concerns about certain things and have openly discussed these concerns. I found it extremely challenging to turn off my human resources (HR) brain. I have never been an advocate of the idea that HR is about holding the employees hand throughout their working life. To me, HR is about effectively managing the human aspect of the organisation in order to achieve its goals. In the same way the finance department is tasked to manage the organisations finances strategically, HR should also be strategic. Not hand holding, not reactive. Proactive and strategic is the way to go. What makes human resources management (HRM) more challenging is the human component. Employees cannot just be allocated a certain task and that be the end of the interaction. Unlike machines which mostly come with an on/off button. The human aspect of the organisation needs more than just a signed contract outlining their pay and other arrangements. We are thinking and feeling beings. I believe that in order to get the best out of the human aspect of the organisation you need to put in a bit of effort and treat them as human beings, not as machines or as disposable resources. Admittedly there will always be the Negative Nancy’s, the key is to discern between the standard whinging and the real concerns which should be addressed.
20121211-195959.jpgManicures should be tax deductible. That or I just go Goth!

In a nutshell, the most frustrating aspect this swing was my HR brain which I am still struggling to switch off. It also didn’t help when I experienced first hand the “us and them” vibe. I didn’t realise that I am now part of the lowly second class, until certain people made me feel that way. Apparently, us folks out on the field getting dirty and working all weather, are lower and less deserving of certain things than certain office folks. I must make it clear that this attitude doesnt come from the leadership group. The key leaders within my department are involved with us on the field. The problem lies within the support roles. This makes it even more frustrating for me as I started my working life in an office support role. My boss at that time always told me that I was privy to certain information that other people were not. This access to information supposedly meant I was different or above others in the office. I never bought into that thinking. I knew things others didn’t. The information I had didn’t make me important or above anyone. It just meant I needed to keep things to myself not that I was better than anyone who didn’t know what I knew. I go by the mantra of treating people the way I would like to be treated. Mind you, with my personality some people just don’t like me straight up. That doesn’t bother me. Treating people the way I want to be treated doesn’t mean I want everyone to like me. I find it easier to treat everyone the same way. That said, some people make it hard but that’s life. Since I started on site I interact with everyone I come across in the same way and don’t discriminate or change my communication style based on their roles or employment contract. This swing it became obvious that certain people interact with others based on where they fall in the organisational hierarchy.
20121211-200129.jpgI thought this would be the dirtiest I would get. I was wrong!

It makes me sad when the guys who have been in the operator game for years tell me this “us and them” and second class treatment is normal. Apparently it’s how it is everywhere else and they have gotten used to it. It’s not fair and it doesn’t make for a positive working environment. Just because thats how it is doesn’t make it okay. Just because these guys have gotten used to it doesnt mean it shouldn’t be addressed and changed. I really hope it changes. I think my head my explode Scanners style if I hear these guys concede to this sort of culture being normal.

Being an operator has given me a great understanding of what its like to be in the trenches and for lack of a better term “being on the other side” (that’s certainly what it felt like after an incident earlier in the swing). I am determined to learn from this experience and ensure I do not make anyone feel second class or give out the “us and them” vibe at any point in my career. So determined that I have decided to keep track of relevant issues and events which arise in a notebook. Let’s call it my what not to do when I end up in that corner office notebook.
20121211-195918.jpgTHE notebook

On a lighter note, I had a number of firsts during my fourth swing. First time I skipped dessert. First time I did not have bacon and eggs for breakfast. First time I tasted slurry/mud – which I do not recommend! First time I showered my safety boots – told you I’m determined to keep them purple!!

20121211-195909.jpgSemi purple! They have been showered since.