The Party Is Over

Posted on April 13, 2012


Yep that’s right, the party is over. I technically am starting a new job on Monday. I laid out, at least for the foreseeable future, my last three piers on Thursday afternoon.

I suppose it is not a great surprise. You know your work situation is bad when people greet each other with a variation of the following theme, “what is the latest that you have heard?” or, my personal favorite, “how many are getting laid off this Thursday?” That is the way that it has been for a couple of months at least it seems. It kind of peaked this last week. I actually had a contractor from another company that we work with asked me the same thing when I saw him. Speaking to other Zachry employees it seems as though even BP operators are asking the contractors the same type of questions.

They are wildly cutting costs. Probably for many reasons. None of which are exactly official, but if I had just a nickel for every new rumor I heard….I could quit and go live in the Bahamas. It seems as though BP is selling the refinery. And I have noticed when other companies were being sold that I worked for the primary concern is nothing but cutting costs….not a real good recipe for job security when you are a contractor. There has also been problems with bringing a unit up after a TAR (shutdown, turnaround, whatever you want to call it). Directly impacting both units that actually make the gasoline severely. Bottom line…they are losing money. Also, to overly simplify a situation. They have started sending all jobs out to bid. Zachry, for many uninteresting reasons bids high…. especially on smaller jobs. Bottom line…we lose work. Result….we lose money….we lay-off employees.

What does all this mean for me? It means I’m not a surveyor anymore. It’s unfortunate on many levels. The biggest reason I don’t like it is because I don’t get to work with Homer anymore. 138kv project, dock 53,54, NW1, NW10, NW8, NW7, SW2, SW3, Poly B reroute project, PX1 flare, Butane sphere sump, Alky2 TAR, ALKY3 TAR, SRU TAR, CAT1 TAR. To the vast majority of people all that was just random letters and numbers, but to me it represents the last almost three years of my life.

So now I am going to be a carpenter. Working with just a regular civil crew. They do fire proofing. Which mean busting old concrete off of steel beam and forming it up and repouring it. I think. I’m not really sure. I know the primarily do fire proofing. It was basically either move to that crew…or get laid off. Not a real hard decision. On the plus side this foreman that I will be working for now has the most work and the most consistent work. Meaning that people don’t get laid off from his crew from lack of work. The problem is…they lay off from whatever crew they want to and move people who don’t have work to the crews that do have work. Simply put. Just working for the crew that has work is no guarantee of anything. So I am about to go the Home Depot or somewhere and pick up another couple of tools, because I am going to have to bring a tool box to work on Monday. Up until this point. My tools, 95% of the time have consisted of a pencil, black sharpie and a tape measure.

Which is why I went and got my Bobcat certification. They won’t let you operate any equipment without NCCER certification in the plant. And the test is difficult to pass for the Bobcat consequently they are in high demand. So I went and passed the computer test a couple of weeks ago, passed my hands on test yesterday in the plant. The crew I am moving to doesn’t have a Bobcat operator, and they need one so hopefully, the plan is, I will be valuable to the crew going forward for this if no other reason.

I am going to miss working with Homer. I wish I could say that I thought this was temporary. And it may be…but I have no real reason to think so. I’m sure I have irritated the fire out of him at some point…perhaps many points, over the last three years, but he has always been most gracious. You don’t spend as much time with a person as we spend together and aren’t forced to practice forbearance. It is what it is though….<<<how profound was THAT.

So, it time to earn my money the hard way…working for it.

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