Posts Tagged ‘ Today ’

“It’s going to SPACE!”

It crossed my mind the other day how quickly people become dissatisfied with pretty much all aspects of their lives eventually, myself included.

I work as the city reporter for the Fort McMurray Today, and some days I’ll do nothing but cover a variety of topics that aren’t interesting to me whatsoever. And I’ll find myself thinking back to some of the outrageously fun work I had an opportunity to do at the Winnipeg Free Press a while back, and all of a sudden I’m saying, “I wish I was a sports writer,” or some other unnecessarily negative comment.

Luckily, I had the good sense to take it upon myself to remind… myself… of some of the jobs that I had to work before I went back to college.

The first job I ever had was when I was probably 14 or 15, and it was at The Chamois car wash in Winnipeg. I got the job for a couple of reasons: All of my friends had gotten jobs there and I wanted to work with them, and they all told me I’d be hired on the spot. Understandably, I had absolutely no business sense back then (compared to the bare minimum that I have today) and it didn’t occur to me that being hired literally five minutes after asking for an application was probably not a good sign.

What I understand now is that the turnover rate at that child-dominated sweatshop was through the roof, to the point that they were hiring whoever walked through the door.

I had the honour of working in “wipedown”, which meant that after the cars came through the wash, I got to wipe them down by hand, and get soaking wet in the process; I’m talking from head to toe. Well, a typical Winnipeg winter came around, as it usually does, and there I was, sending cars off through the giant garage doors, while standing a few feet away from -40, and a wind chill that practically had me on my knees trying to bargain with my creator.

Needless to say, I was glad to contribute to their high turnover rate.

But mostly I think about Boston Pizza, the last job I had before college, and ultimately my inspiration to go find a better life for myself. They treated me so poorly that I think my parents are still boycotting them back home.

But the point is, these are the places that I was forced to work when all I had was a high school education (or less). The 10-year old version of myself would punch me in the face if he heard me complain about ANYTHING work-related today. All I’ve ever wanted to do was write for a living, and now I do that every day. That should really be the only pertinent information.

Louis C.K. does a great job of pointing out flaws in humans like this, that most of us never even think of.

Here’s his take on all of the things that people take for granted these days, and it’s painfully accurate, and worth watching.

“How quickly the world owes him something he knew existed only 10 seconds ago.”


“We Are The Mac… Are You The Mac?”

Call me. …or email me… But don’t fax me, the world has forgotten about that.

So my first couple weeks at the Fort McMurray Today are in the books.

I’ve been having a good time here so far.  It’s pretty tough to pack up and move to a new city, and then try to figure out what exactly people care about here, and report it within about 48 hours of arriving.

I often find myself asking “Is this new information?” to some of the people who have been here longer than I have, because I simply don’t know.  But with everyday that goes by, the job gets easier, as I learn where things are, what goes on there, and the things I write about start to be follow-ups or add-ons to things I’ve written about maybe a few days ago, so I actually know a moderate amount of information on the topic.

I think part of what I love about this industry, and maybe this is going to sound bad, but as a journalist, it’s your output that gets measured.  Nobody really cares what the hell you do all day long, as long as you have good content at the end of the day.  Some days, yes, that might mean lunch doesn’t even cross your mind, but other days maybe you give’r and get four interviews done before noon, and take a nice leisurely lunch.

My beat has been pretty interesting thus far.  I’ve covered everything from a stolen excavator to a city council meeting.  Duncan, I think you should consider sending the first years to Fort McMurray city council from now on, things got pretty heated.

I also get to take a lot of photos here, which is something I hadn’t actually considered when looking for a job, but am definitely glad it’s something I’ll be doing a lot of here.  I don’t think I used the college’s cameras once in CreComm, but I practically slept with an HD video camera every night, because of my IPP.  I really came to love shooting video, and taking photos isn’t all that much different.  It really helps round out your portfolio too, if you can have an article that you wrote, accompanied by a photo that you took.

My living situation is what will take more getting used to than my job.  If you’ve met me (or, maybe more appropriately, not met me) you know I’m a pretty solitary person.  I enjoy being independent, and not having to answer to anyone except myself.  So living with people is an adjustment, but luckily the people that I live with are pretty nice. They bought me a fridge for my room so I mean… what more is there to say?

The actual city is beautiful, and I live in a pretty quiet, nice neighbourhood.  My drive to work every morning is more scenic than anything you’ll ever see in Winnipeg.  Also, if anyone’s wondering, that whole thing about Winnipeg drivers not being able to merge? Myth confirmed. It’s a Winnipeg thing.

So I think that’s pretty much it for updates since I last posted.  There’s a pretty ridiculous story about a kid who single-handedly got plastic bags removed from all of the stores here, making grocery shopping next to impossible, so maybe I’ll tell you about that next time around.

Leg 2 – Edmonton

Gonna be a short one today, folks.

I ended up getting about 12 hours of sleep in Saskatoon, which was nice, so I got on the road probably a little before 10 a.m.

I knew the drive from Saskatoon to Edmonton was going to be a lot shorter than the drive the day before, but it just seemed to breeze past.  It was probably a little under a six-hour drive, and thankfully it was a little more scenic than yesterday.

Almost the second that I pulled onto the highway, it started to rain – again – and rained for probably the first three or four hours of the drive, even when I was well into Alberta, so those clouds covered some pretty good distance.

Did you know there’s a town called Borden, Saskatchewan? I found that pretty funny because it sounds just like “bored in Saskatchewan” which is all I ever was driving through.

There was a section of highway just over the Alberta border that apparently mother nature forgot.  All of a sudden, I look out my window and it looks like November in Winnipeg outside.  It’s 10 degrees celsius out, but this snow apparently could just not be bothered to melt. Very odd.

So I’m in Edmonton now, just had some pizza and am about to call it a night so I can get on the road for Fort McMurray pretty early tomorrow morning.  Reason being that seven people were just killed in a head-on collision on the highway I’ll be driving on, which is apparently pretty treacherous, so I’d like to give myself a good amount of time to make the trip.

I also want to have as much time as possible in Fort Mac to get settled and check the place out before jumping right into work the next day.

I think I’m obligated to at least complete the blog series, and do “Leg 3”, so I’ll try to write that one up tomorrow evening after I’m settled in Fort McMurray.

Leg 1 – Saskatoon

So today I started the three-day journey up to Fort McMurray, where I’ll be working starting May 1st.

The plan was to get up around 5 a.m. and be on the road around 6.  But unfortunately for poor Plan A, I stayed out pretty late last night, as it was my last night in Winnipeg, and actually set my alarm for 6, and then promptly ignored it for about an hour when it went off.

But I eventually picked up my 50-pound head from off the couch, and got on my way.

The trip from Winnipeg to Saskatoon is almost 900 km, so today was definitely “trial by fire” for my brand new car, which had just surpassed surpassed 100 km the night before.

This was definitely the longest distance I’ve ever driven in one sitting, and I wasn’t really sure how it would affect me, if at all.  Despite only having about three hours of sleep, I really didn’t get drowsy at all during the drive.  Some parts of Saskatchewan were horrendously mundane to drive through, and I found myself battling boredom most of the time over drowsiness.

Obviously enhanced. It was pretty gloomy though.

It rained pretty heavily for probably almost all of the time that I was in Saskatchewan, which got a little tiresome, and actually made the landscape look even duller, which I didn’t think was possible.

When I was finally within about 80 km of Saskatoon was when I really started to feel like, “Alright, I’m over this drive for today”, and did start feeling a little tired right towards the end.

But no big deal, I made it into Saskatoon (after driving through The Motherland AKA Regina), and got set up in a room at the Holiday Inn for the night.

Things I’m looking forward to tonight:

1) Sleeping in a BED.

2) Sleeping for a long ****ing time.

3) Complimentary breakfast tomorrow morning.  Yes, tomorrow morning, but I am choosing to look forward to it beginning tonight.

The drive from Saskatoon to Edmonton is quite a bit shorter than the marathon I drove today, so it’ll be nice to just relax tomorrow and get on the road a little later, and also enjoy some nicer scenery than what Saskatchewan has to offer. Spoiler alert, it’s nothing.

I still have no idea what’s going on with my apartment yet, I guess technically it’s not rented out for May 1st as originally thought, so I may end up with an unexpected $700 on my tab, so that adds a little bit of stress, but ultimately I’m just focusing on the opportunity ahead of me, and not letting the negatives get to me.

So the rest of my night includes enjoying the NHL playoffs, having a quick dinner and getting a good sleep before saying goodbye to Saskatoon tomorrow morning, and hello to Edmonton later in the afternoon.  I’ll try to give another update tomorrow as well after I get into Edmonton. Nothing too riveting yet, the good stuff will come when I get to Fort Mac and start work.


Wind Turbines. Probably the coolest thing I saw in Saskatchewan. Pretty sure I yawned.


So yeah, I’m moving to Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Making this decision has been, and continues to be, quite a roller coaster of different emotions for me, so if you’ll forgive me, I’m going to need to get a little bit personal and introspective for just a brief moment. I promise it won’t happen again.

I have had my fair share of personal obstacles to overcome to reach the point I’m at now, and, quite honestly, it’s nothing short of a miracle that I even managed to get a high school diploma, not to mention a post-secondary education.  And I’m not trying to portray myself as an incompetent moron, it’s just that school and I have never gotten along.  I’ve always known that I’m an intelligent and capable person, with skills in certain areas, just like (most) everyone else.  But in a classroom setting, I drown.

I’m also independent, at times to a fault, other times to my credit.  As my parents will back-up, I’ve been disobeying them since I was probably a few months old. And at 23, I’m apparently still doing it.  I was the kid who reached out to touch a hot lightbulb, and stopped when my mom would yell, “Don’t touch that, you’ll burn yourself!”  I stopped to listen to her. When she was finished, I touched the damn thing anyways, and burned myself.  And I’ve been burning myself ever since.

I’m the type of person who has to learn lessons for himself.  I have to.  I don’t think I’ve heeded a single warning in my entire life.  I just can’t leave anything to chance.  I need to make my own mistakes, so I can truly understand how to avoid making them again.  And I have made a LOT of mistakes.

But when I think about the person that I would be today if I hadn’t made those mistakes, it’s hard to regret having made them.  In a sick way, it’s almost an incentive to continue making mistakes.

I also know that doing things that scare you is one of the best ways to learn, and grow.  And moving to Fort McMurray scares the fucking shit out of me (don’t tell anyone, though).  I’m just glad that, through the infinite number of mistakes I’ve made in the past, I’m a strong and confident enough person to know that I’ll be fine.  As hard as it could possibly get out there, as much as Fort McMurray might try to throw at me, I know I’ll be fine.

Because when I think back to the eighth grade, and the fact that I was somehow failing elementary school, if you had told me back then that I’d be in this position today, I probably would have done the Riverdance on my desk.  I’ve worked my ass off to overcome a lot of different things that were stacked against me, and I know that no matter what happens in Fort Mac, there’s no way that I can come out of it worse off than I ever thought I’d be.

The truth is, I don’t feel like I can ever reach my full potential in Winnipeg. As corny and cliché as it sounds, I’ve suffered way too many setbacks here, and have too many bad memories that I associate with this city, that I feel pigeon-holed for failure here.  There are a lot of things about myself that I want to change, and change for good, and I feel like starting over in a new city is the best way to get there.

I think everyone eventually has an opportunity in front of them that they can use to find out what they’re really made of.  And the reward for success is something that you will carry with you for the rest of your life, and that will ultimately define you as a person. The hardest part is just the decision to do it.

So, I’m moving to Fort McMurray, where I’ll be working as a reporter for the Fort McMurray Today, the town’s only daily newspaper.  My beat will be municipal issues, crime, and the editor, mysteriously aware of my love of sports, even said I could cover a sporting event here and there.

I start May 1st, which tasks me with getting rid of my apartment, packing as much of it as I can into a new car that I’ll also have to get, selling everything that won’t fit, and saying goodbye to anyone who wants one, in the span of about… a week and a half, and then I need to hit the road.  Easier said than done, I think.

I imagine I’ll be blogging quite a bit about my experiences out there, so there is likely more to come on this development.  I feel like I owe the city of Winnipeg a farewell letter, as well.  Stay tuned.

(And anyone who wants to hang out before I go, please just let me know!)