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tree planting – the Apocalypse

November 12, 2017 - romanticpathofselfdestruction -

I’m sitting at the bar – overlooking the Pacific Ocean – contemplating and wondering pint after pint…

if I’m ever going back planting trees, for my 5th season.

I can truly say that I’m passionate about the job and that I love it. I might have fit in better a couple of decades ago, but then again, friends who did the bush work back in the day tell me not everything was great then either.

going planting is not quite the pony-farm-vacation, I got that pretty clear after my four past seasons.
instead of joining the club of countless nomads I even returned to a contract with potential, brought two friends, but after 65 days I couldn’t do it anymore without going insane.
staying wide awake every night with (money-)numbers in my head, reminding me night after night, that I’m making less money than I made in my first year in Ontario four years ago.

should have stayed there, someone might say, but no, I like B.C. it’s beautiful here (they say on the license plate) and there’s sure less bugs (everyone who has not planted east can go suck dick).

(photograph: not the author!)

the rant:

there was too many things around us featuring sexual harassment, mismanagement and way too many sheep, folks, who’re simply not ready for the job; like
drivers, who shouldn’t be driving, not learning or knowing radio procedures on busy logging roads, where one truck can erase a 6-pack in half a heart beat.
yapping about some sowing-circle bullshirt, nobody and I mean nobody! wants to listen too!

a foreman, who shouldn’t be a foreman, simply because he treated people like dog while mistreating the camp dogs.
a foreman, who shouldn’t be a foreman, simply, because he would rather spend time watching crap in the truck, than helping out on the block.

some foremen, who shouldn’t be foremen,

checkers who’re stuck between mismanagement and poor relations between company and mill faulting trees, failing plots, not checking on a walk in block, planting away from our crew only a few minutes, because they’re not comfortable out there with bears. really? fuckin’ really? maybe go work in an office and look at bear-pictures.

or a supervisor, who really likes to go fishing a lot and listening to sports radio, smoking cigarettes, instead of busting his ass off to assess blocks or grind the owners to skip their well deserved vacation and up the prices.

planters are beggars, no choosers.

they all have in common, that they’re cheap sheep.

my wife – after some time this summer – told me, that every other time she’d be washing her hands before dinner next to a certain person, she walked away being pretty sure that he had mumbled things like ‘slut, bitch, cunt..’ everyone who knows her, knows she would never make anything like that up. badmouthing someone, especially in times where the white male doesn’t have the best stand in this world, for good reasons (I mean sure Donald Trump is fucking it up big time).

the white man has not helped the case – again.

another day, I’m sitting at the bar, the ocean in the back staring at the rugged carpet stretched across the old heritage bar of the hotel floor. we meet a young woman, who had just started as a waitress.
as it turns out, she worked for the same company I rookied with out east, but she started a year after me. since then, she ran a 24-pack (!!!) for that firm after just one year of planting, then headed west and ran a crew in Alberta and finally arrived in B.C. telling me she’s applying for a crew-boss position for the company I worked for the last two years before I had a chance to tell her who I had worked for.

there were a whole bunch of people who were hired this past year, with questionable experience history and resumes, but somehow ending up being responsible for a crew of workers. trying to lead them, without knowing how to spell leadership.
a way to keep the ‘vet-rate’ up high in the 90 percent. what does that mean really, if as a company, you have to cross-hire vets from their previous misery, to bath them in some other misery.

(photograph: not the author!)

one of the best events this season and unbeaten was the day off when my foreman asked me to join him go fix up a block that was said to be on the edge of failing.
we had a list with us and maps to identify what went wrong. so there we go, spread out and soon come to the conclusion, that not too much was bad about what we had planted and the pay plots seemed to be quite suspiciously thrown deeming the block to fail.

long story, we didn’t fix anything, walked around for half an hour, said we did a whole bunch, put a bunch of trees in and miraculously the block passed no problem after the mill re-plotted it.
some of you will say: Duh! you didn’t know that??? I guess I knew, but I just didn’t want to get too much involved into the politics of tree planting and just be a half-decent worker,

they very much copied last years strategy of randomly passing / failing blocks, without giving us a real chance to go back to an area that had problems, announcing bad results weeks later on blocks we felt great about. keeping you in check. “oh by the way, that block a month ago didn’t go to good eh. why are you asking to make an okay amount of money anyways, when you suck at the job?”
I laughed when they called that trees were too deep after 40 days of work. you just realized that we’re all planting the trees too deep? after 40 days? again, I just laughed.

devil of silviculture.

nobody does them and everyone does them and if you do them you have a small dick or too big and too small boobs, or too big sheep.

we have friends on another camp, same contract we did this year, who worked seven days, no pay, to fix j-rooted blocks from weeks ago. literally cutting off the fully growing roots and after all the blocks still failed. one of the owners / supervisors invited the unfortunate bunch out for dinner, before one of the crews almost entirely quit after returning back to camp facing the worst, and absolutely worst negotiated blocks I’ve seen since worst-case-Ontario.

I’m sitting at the bar in Ymir, Kootenays pint after pint looking at the snow piling up outside, wearing a costume for Halloween, that people tell me later that night looks like my friends and I resemble a bad version of the Klu Klux Klan. (we didn’t mean to).
next to me at the counter a guy with glassy eyes and heavy duty boots staring into his glass before guessing we were a bunch of planters. that fella, 20+ years of planting the Koots gave me one of the best advice I never took:

“if a contract goes haywire, get the fuck out.
have contacts, go to a motel, reshuffle, go out again.”

I have finally learned now, that the whole shut-up-and-plant, loyal to death doesn’t mean anything to most companies, except they’re preaching it to keep us around – fuck em.

build your mill and mill them and bill them with your camp-costs + tax.
but not with us, we’re leaving the sinking ship, like rats, quitters, etc.

one of the worst stories I’ve heard lately was the one of a girl with quite the experience under her belt, who was trying hard to convince me, that our financial contribution to the operation is justified, since we’re signing up for it. what?

again, what?

with that attitude that same girl would still be behind the stove in the kitchen, looking after the kids before laying down with a drunken hubs, who get’s the bacon.
tree planting first appeared to me an amazing equalizer for woman and man until women and men started ruining it by fighting their way up equally using their elbows to get ahead of others, walk over them, bla, bla, bla..

my messed up father in law said one of the wisest things I’ve heard lately: “I’m a racist, but I hate every race, I even hate myself”.
thus there is assholes in every culture, in every country, every industry regardless if they’re, male, transitioning, purple, black or from Mars.

(photograph: not the author)

which brings my thoughts back to the asshole insulting my wife and I realize, that hanging in for 99% of a bad season still just gets you badmouthed. not by many, but as high up as one of the owners, who (showed in our camp a couple of times) certified, that our fam-gang was bad for the camp with all the ‘negativity’ we were spreading. for real? 99% of our camp would likely state the opposite and sure, after days barely making $150 before deductions we definitely were dealing with some ‘negativity’, but kept it to our little trailer-park back in the woods, when I should have stood up and yelled around at camp meetings, in town or at least kick the supervisor in the nuts for not doing his job – I didn’t, I don’t blame the industry for that, I blame myself.


[photographs: Nikon FM2 / Nikkor 35 mm – 105 mm 3.5 / Kodak Portra 400]


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  1. Frustrated by Illiteracy says:

    I don’t know who you are, but this was almost unreadable. It took a lot of discipline to finish it. I don’t really see what was accomplished here.

  2. john says:

    hey there fellow, I hear you out loud, still proud. This industry is fascinating in the fact that it is so fluid. It has grown a lot in the 30 years that I have been involved. It can be dark, very dark. It is the hardest job in North America when it comes down to calorie output and energy consumption. Then of t course is the sexism, exploitation of ignorance, and government complacency. Put aside the time away from home for a family person. All I can tell you is that if you are disheartened, you need to gather yourself out of your self pity and take your strengths to a place where you can achieve your goals and desires. There are places in the industry where that type of integrity are rewarded with what you put out. It is never perfect whether you are a rookie, vet, foreman , supervisor or owner. The journey is easier if we all work together, take a stand, let our voices be heard. I applaud that you put yourself out there, now I hope that you either go back and change what is wrong, or change who you work with and continue to inspire. We are strong together.
    Johnny G

  3. plantercc says:

    a little bit of proof reading wouldn’t hurt to make this trainwreck at least somewhat coherent. or don’t, whatever, you’re just drunkenly rambling on about bs any fuckin ways.

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