Friday, February 22, 2013

When it Rains ...

Well. Hello there. It's been a while.

I have news.

But, first: there's a thread going around on gCaptain right now on members' hobbies. What do you do when you're at home? (What do you do between hitches? Anything you've had to give up due to working offshore? Leave a comment!)

Me? I change a lot of diapers. Cook. Clean. Sometimes I throw the ball for the brown dog. Occasionally I catch a re-run of House or an episode of Shameless.

My aspirational response is that I read, write, fly fish, paddle a plastic boat, look at birds, carve things out of wood.

And I'm learning to play the ukulele (chosen, in part because chords are simple and there are only four strings, and in part because it's small enough and quiet enough to go to sea with me).

I have been home now for more than two months. My radar endorsement is safely tucked into the little red book. I've primed and painted the front gate. Found a couple of really cool old wooden school chairs cheap on CraigsList and stripped and refinished them. I hung blinds in the kitchen and replaced a couple of toilet seats.

It has been delightful, but I'm ready to go back to work for as long as my long-suffering, incredibly hard-working wife will let me.

With no solid offers arising from my three interviews during the week at school, I decided to head back to Louisiana and knock on some more doors.

But then it was Superbowl Weekend and Superbowl Hangover Week. After that, Mardi Gras.

A trip to Louisiana from the middle of Texas is a significant investment -- a triple C-note in gas roundtrip, plus accommodations, plus I'll probably want to eat once in a while ... it's a gamble, no job guaranteed, so most of us who do this from time-to-time try to make sure we maximize our productivity on any given trip.

And, you know ... Newton's First Law of Motion.

The unbalanced force (e.g., poverty, domestic unrest) had not yet acted upon the object (me) to change its (my) velocity (zero).

I've now buried my lede as far as I possibly can -- so I'll cut to the chase: a couple of days before I had planned to hit the road, I sent out two emails. Late at night, on a holiday. The next day I received a phone call and a job offer from Company Number One -- a smaller, family-owned boat company.

Crewboats, not OSVs, but nice crewboats owned by some folks who have been in business for a lot of years now and have long-term contracts and are willing to pay more than my last employer. Bonus points: an old friend from another life is a captain on the boat they are sending me to.

Ironically, as I wrapped-up my acceptance over the phone, call waiting beeped and it was the other company I had emailed -- bigger boats, newer boats, better bennies.. I reluctantly declined their offer, explaining that I had just accepted at Company Number One and didn't want to burn that bridge.

The personnel manager at Company Number Two teasingly reminded me that she, too, had previously offered me a job and I was turning her down again ....

"Well," I said, "Maybe the third time will be the charm. Can I keep in touch and check back with you down the line?"

"Absolutely," she said.

I am not God's Gift to the Gulf of Mexico, or The World's Greatest Captain. I'm competent, I try to pay attention. I keep my paperwork up-to-date, I speak standard English and I wear clean clothes and look people in the eye when I meet them.

But let me back up: when I say I emailed "companies," that's not exactly right. What I really mean is that I emailed specific individuals, and those particular people called me.

I hold on to business cards, send thank-you notes after interviews, and have been known to share cool photos of boats belonging to companies I did not go to work for -- when I run across them out on the water -- with the people who did not hire me.

My point is this, Grasshopper: never write-off a person or a company just because you don't go to work for them the first time around. This industry in this part of the world is fairly fluid. You never know when a previous good (or at least not negative) impression will pay off.

My other point is that when it rains, by God, it pours. This is my third round of job hunting in the oil patch, and the third time I've had multiple job offers on the same day or in the same week.

And I am so very grateful, because apparently in much of the country still, jobs aren't just falling out of trees.

And for all the sacrifices mariners make, it's damned good money, even in the 100-ton world, even for someone still relatively new to the game.

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