Wednesday, Oct 22, 7:15pm
Finally, I’m turning into the hotel in Ottumwa, Iowa! I check in and start dragging my stuff into my new temporary home. It isn’t long before I spot a friend of mine from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. I flag him down and we chat. As he’s giving me the low down on the crew, a woman walks by with what can only be interpreted as a “don’t even try to talk to me” face. Devin explains that she’s a crew chief…and not a very friendly one. Great. Glad I’m being thrown into such a happy environment.
But my crew chief is a different person anyway. I’ll be meeting him tomorrow morning at seven. Then we’ll all load up in trucks that should be four wheel drive but aren’t and go look for signs of past occupation in the woods and farms of small-town Iowa.
Thursday, Oct 23, 7:15am
Rapping on my door rouses me from a deep, comfortable sleep. I stumble my way out of bed and see my friend from UALR through the peep hole. I open the door, thinking it must be the middle of the night.
“Hey,” he says. “It’s time to go.”
“What?” At first I assume that he’s kidding, but I look back at the clock and realize that I’m already fifteen minutes late. “Oh no! Are they waiting for me? Are the mad?”
“No, it’s fine…just get ready and get out there asap.”
I power walk through the parking lot with a stack of new hire paperwork in my hand. I head striaght to my friend’s crew, which I had been told would also be mine. Self-conscious and flustered, I hand my paperwork to a man with an authoritative-looking clip board before making sure he’s the man I had been instructed to report to.
However, as he tells me with a smirk under his grizzly beard, the other guy quit and he’s the replacement. BUT….I won’t be on his crew anyway. They’re crew seven and they’ve decided to put myself and another new guy on crew six. With the dagger-eyes lady from yesterday.
Well, what a great start.
After work, my friend invites me to join him and some of his crew mates at a local grill and bar. I know how important workmate bonding is, and I want to be received well among those who are already established in this group, so I join.
Grizzly beard is there, and makes a few playful pokes at my sleeping in, but overall is friendly and really doesn't seem to care about my blunder. And after we get to the hotel I’m even invited to hang out and have a beer at the fire pit out back.
So I guess I had a shabby start….but overall, it wasn't a bad day. This project and the potential friends in it at least seem promising…