It has been said, “No plan survives execution.” I can’t say I’ve ever encountered a situation where this isn’t true. It’s a chaotic and random world we live in and while the big picture plan always seems straightforward, things do get weird at the quantum level. You push for one thing and the universe pushes back. Sometimes pretty hard.
Three weeks ago, I had a job. Which in and of itself is an oversimplification because right now I still have a job just not the way I had before even though it’s still in the same industry etc., etc.
But things are really different.
This is not going too well as an explanation. I’m going to go back to the beginning… Well some of it.
I started out like a lot of young people going right out of school into a job. Further education wasn’t going to happen as I didn’t have the money and frankly, I didn’t have a clue as to what I wanted to do or where I wanted to be and I didn’t see how spending money I didn’t have was going to change that. So I went into construction as a laborer. I dug ditches, I leveled basements and built forms for foundations. It was hard physical work and for the most part it was seasonal, Spring, Summer and a chunk of Fall. In order to fill the wage gap, I began working in a metal fabrication shop that made fireplace inserts and free standing wood stoves. I started out as a grinder, which sort of morphed into a bunch of different jobs within the company and through need and attrition, I learned how to MIG weld. As we were doing miles of it every day, I got pretty good at it. We were all young guys and the shop foreman was an ex high school shop teacher. I learned a lot. Eventually he moved on and a younger guy took his place. He taught me how to TIG weld.
It’s a weird fact that most of my early career in metal work was focused in a very small area of Langley, BC.
When I moved into doing aseptic welding the company I worked for was small so we were all expected to be multifunctional. In addition to the welding and fitting, I also began to wire control panels, eventually I ended up laying them out as well. This of course led to learning to program industrial SLC and PLC controllers. I had to learn ladder logic and electrical layout. Of course in order to properly program the PLCs you had to understand the processes you were controlling. Process drawings and understanding production process were next. All in all, it was a constant learning curve. It’s still a constant learning curve and it’s provided myself and my family with a decent and steady income because no matter what, people like to eat. The day job has had another cool payoff. I’ve always liked building things and at the end of the day, there is a plant or a machine that exists because of you and your team’s efforts. It’s a concrete entity in a way that my creative work isn’t.
So that sums up the last 25 years or so. I’m leaving out the tragic bits because while they might be part of my definition, they don’t push this narrative forward.
Back to three weeks ago when the company I was working from ceased operations. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t much of a surprise. I’d been through it twice before and the signs had been there. Plus there’d been a lack of chatter. You see on any given day, there’s a general amount of chatter in the upper areas of a company. Usually it’s bitching about productivity or meeting deadlines. It’s the background hum if you like. As long as it’s there, the engine is ticking along. Maybe not well but it’s running. The time to be concerned is when the chatter increases in frequency and intensity, which usually signals a change of some kin. Maybe a big job is being bid on or somebody is going to be leaving (though that has its own set of signals). The other side of the coin is radio silence. All chatter stops. Anybody in ELINT (electronic intelligence) will tell you, this is never a good sign. It means something is in the wind and it isn’t going to be good for whoever is on the receiving end of it and as I previously mentioned, there’d been other signs.
I’m 52 and not looking to going back to square one with another company. I’m lucky in the fact that the second the news got out people started to reach out to me to see what my next move was going to be. The easy thing (somewhat) would be to pick one of them and run with it. I could be in a new office or in the field at the start of the following week. The easy thing.
Instead, I decided to throw my lot in with another member of my previous employer. We created a lean cut down team and he and I purchased the liquidated assets of our former employer.
It was not easy.
It was not without fear.
It certainly wasn’t without substantial financial risk.
But on the upside, we’re the masters of our own destiny – whatever that may be.
I’ll be posting up more on this whole thing down the road and I’ll be mentioning names and places etc. but right now everything is still very fresh and a certain amount of distance needs to be gained before I can write those words.