Those of you who haven’t been following me for long might not know that I have a non-traditional work situation. I’m a tradeswoman, working on the Alberta oil sands on a fly-in, fly-out rotation. That means that I fly into the work site, stay there for two weeks while working 12-hour days and living on a work camp, and then I fly home for two weeks. The two weeks off are great, and I definitely have one of the better shifts (some people work two or three weeks and then only get one off), but that doesn’t mean that the two weeks at work are a walk in the park. I live almost as far away from the site as you can get while still being in the same country, so the shifts away can be rough. Sometimes I have bad days. Sometimes I have really bad days. Sometimes I get so homesick that it makes me loathe every single thing about my job and that stupid camp.
Times like that are when it’s really important to enjoy the little things. Things like when the camp makes tacos, or when our safety guy brings in coffee and donuts. Things like having a strong enough cell signal to Skype my daughter during my break. Things like how someone finally ordered coveralls in my size for a change, so I’m not wandering around site looking like a little kid in daddy’s work clothes.
Sometimes those little things are hard to recognize, but sometimes they hit you when you least expect it.
Last shift I was hauled away from my cozy, control-system-based desk job, and thrown out into the field, and I was none-too-impressed with that decision. My coworkers and I had to drive out into the middle of nowhere, where a man-made lake had been created as part of the plant process, and we were commissioning the two boats that would be dredging that lake. I didn’t want to be there, and I’ll admit that I was fairly cranky about the whole thing.
But on my second day down there, as the wind was changing directions, I caught a whiff of a familiar scent. That scent made me breathe deep, and the next thing I knew I was calm and smiling. What was this wonderful, calming aroma? Nothing more than fresh, clean water and sand. You see, Alberta is an extremely dry province, with dusty air that makes your skin crack and your nose bleed. So even though the smell wasn’t quite right without the addition of salt and seaweed, getting a whiff of that aquatic aroma reminded me of home and made me smile, at least for a little while.
What little things make you smile on an otherwise unhappy day?