Again I find myself missing Easter because of the outage the Power Plant scheduled for April. But I don’t resent it. I feel blessed.
Every year the Power Plant outside our town schedules an outage. It is where they take one of the units offline and perform a variety of maintenance work. The company I work for is a Paint company. They sandblast the inside of water pipes, then repaint them. The last 4 years they worked on a contract to place carbon fiber inside all the pipes to strengthen them. I worked for them the last three. My son worked for them the first year. With the money I earned, we went to Austria for Mozart’s 150th Birthday to sing with my choir, then we went to Taiwan to pick up our Returned Missionary, and last year was just put away for a rainy day, or maybe some day a future trip. We are celebrating our 35th anniversary this year, and we have talked of Hawaii or maybe Italy. But it is nice just to have it safely in the bank as well.
I had not intended on working this year. I called them, though, as I always do in November and told them I was available, in case they did need someone. I didn’t hear from them and assumed I was not needed, so I planned a trip to visit my mom for the month. As time progressed, I was informed my daughter would be traveling to Salt Lake for a marathon, and would I be there? I pared it down to two weeks. Then my mom informed me that she had a trip planned to Mexico with her immigrant friends and my visit would interfere. Basically, I was uninvited. . . by my OWN MOTHER. She denied it later and admitted she had been pretty tired that day.
Meanwhile, the Paint Contractors needed someone, but my husband had told them I was going to see my Mom, so they hired someone else for my job. It was fine. It is exhausting work, the hardest part being getting up at oh-dark-hundred every.single.morning for two to three weeks in a row. We work 12 hour days, seven days a week, with no breaks. Every morning the alarm rings, and as conscientiousness settles in, realization is that it is yet another day. It wears on a body. My sweet husband has already worked 2 weeks before the outage on a pre-outage, where the other unit was quickly shut down and some maintenance was done before they shut the scheduled unit down. Bless his heart, he was already really tired going into the outage, I have NOTHING to complain about.
Anyway, my boss called my husband and asked if I would be willing to come in part time. He was under the impression that I didn’t want to work it this year, which even though I had not expressed it out loud to him, I really felt that way. But, on my way to choir, on the 31st, I gave the boss a call on my cell phone and left a message that I had heard they needed an extra person, and I was willing. It was originally supposed to be just fill-in extra, but turned quickly into full time. I am not sure how long this will last, but it cannot last past the 24th. That is the day they want to start bringing it back on line.
So here I sit, performing my duties as a Confined Space Entry Attendant. This year is not as bad as the years they were putting fiberglass saturated with epoxy inside the pipe. That was a sticky mess, and I ruined several shirts because I brushed against something. I saved those shirts and wore them every year to the outage. It’s all good.
This year I was required to watch several doors to the water boxes. This year they are sandblasting the pipes and applying two coats of special paint to them. Because of the sandblasting, everything got dusty and I found myself very dirty every day. My fingers are permanently blackened in all the little grooves. I can wash them with a scrub brush every night and the water continues to be black for several rinses. That’s OK, though. My husband makes it easy. He is amazing as he makes breakfast and packs lunches while I just get ready. I usually make a green smoothie to help the vitamins go down. Not near as much work as he does. He also makes the meat for dinner, and I usually make the salad. We have been trying to stay on the South B. diet and have succeeded in losing a little weight. We decided to try to stay on it throughout the outage as well.
Working the outage affords me many benefits besides the money. I realize what an amazing, wonderful hero of a husband I have, who normally works four 10-hour days. This man and all these men who work for this company come every single day. They work hard. They are tired and very dirty as they climb out of those holes. They are exhausted, yet always have a good joke and a smile. I am in awe of the working people, the so called blue-collar workers who provide for their families. I have met many wonderful people and made some good friends.
One in particular, a charmer, told me he had been worried sick about me because I didn’t show up on the job the first day this year. He has a down-home farm-boy type of charm. He has a wife and family, and an ex-wife. He always has a joke, which is usually pretty clean, and a smile on his face. He has his “other side” which isn’t that charming, but I don’t judge and really don’t care. I still like him. He chews and spits tobacco. A gross habit, but I have gotten used to it. When I first became his friend, I asked him to make sure he directed his spits to somewhere else than the plywood floor I had to look at all day, thankyouverymuch. He respected my request.
He nick-named me Lady Love. Because he had to order carbon fiber from inside the pipe, we had radios and he would address me, “Lady Love, Lady Love, I need . . . (whatever it was he needed”.) I was unaware, but the radios were hooked up that first year to the entire Power Plant’s radios. I began to see people peek inside my tent to see who Lady Love was. The boss of the Paint company told him not to address me that way, it was harassment. He came and asked me if it offended me, and I told him no. So all four years, he has called me that. I feel like it is an endearment, and I am honored.
This year, as I said before is much easier. The first 11 days were spent inside the noisy building. We had to wear hard hats, gloves, ear plugs safety glasses and work boots. I had to soak my poor feet in Epsom salts with a tablespoon of Clorox and take Ibuprofen the first few days because I had a toenail that was threatening to get infected. But either my feet have become hardened, or the boots have been a bit broken in. They don’t hurt me anymore.
But yesterday I discovered the watch in the suburban outside the plant for the outside entries is MUCH BETTER. I can bring my DVD player which my sweet sister and bro in law gave me for my birthday. I can watch movies. I don’t have to wear the hard hat, earplugs or safety glasses as long as I am inside the vehicle. I can write my blog on my laptop and listen to General Conference on my Palm Pilot.
Yesterday I felt so energetic after work that I went to the store and purchased some Easter stuff and made little Easter Baskets for the men. It was so fun to see their faces light up as I handed them a happy Easter cup filled with lots of sweets. I feel blessed.
I just want to say how grateful I am for our Savior who sacrificed his life for us so many centuries ago so we can rise again in the judgment day and be with Him again. Life is good. I hope you all are having a wonderful Easter, however you are celebrating it. I pray for Him to bless each of you who read this with a joyful day, filled with family, memories and a peace to your souls.