This is the oilfield

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It took everything I had to get to Fairview, Montana, 1,900 miles from home, and once I arrived it was not as promised. Some of it was good. Some of it was not so good.

The contracts needing fulfilling have not started. I was told they were not going start until the 8th, a full week later than I was told before coming up here. Two days later I’m told that they were pushed back to the 15th and when I spoke with the brokers myself on Monday I discovered they would not start until the 21st.

In the meantime my prospective employer does me a “favor” by lining up work with his relatives hauling beets for $18 an hour. I talk to one of them who says he’ll “keep it off the books.” That he and his three brothers would each cut me checks to keep the payments under $600, the legal limit for a 1099, and if I needed gas or tires or whatever I could charge it to his account downtown.

This may sound like a fair deal but it is outlaw trucking and it is one of the worst possible positions a legitimate driver can find themselves in. It is a trap. Money is often withheld on promise of payment. Gas and meals are charged back to your account at double the rate. There is no legal recourse in these situations because you are invisible and they most often end with the driver walking away.

It is modern slavery and it is more common than you’d think.

I’ve been doing this a long time. It’s not the first time I’ve had to deal with bait and switch and outlaw trucking and because of that I’m careful and always ready to bail within minutes because it can be dangerous. It is always stressful and rarely profitable.

Monday I talked with my employer. I was polite but firm and persuasive. I made it 100% clear that I would not be driving outlaw for his cousin or anyone else. I let him know I had already made some calls to the broker in charge of the contract he is on and was given the dates and rates. Then I told him I would continue to make calls to people and companies I know here to line up real work for his truck and suggested some sources for him to call as well.

An hour later he calls back with a fresh contract from one of my sources, a company that I’ve worked with before that knows and respects me. The contract pays $110 an hour. I’ll get 25% of that. Not the best money but not bad given the circumstances.

More than that it’s a good contract that will probably last until just before Christmas with people I trust. People that will see to it that I get paid.

Like I said, I’ve been doing this a long time. I know the rules. And I make a horrible victim.

This is not unusual. It’s business as usual and I’m used to it, as much as a person can get used to things like this.

It’s the world I am working so hard to leave behind. I think you can begin to see why.

Here’s the good parts:

Most importantly, I’ll leave here debt free and with enough banked to upgrade the Caravan and buy some time to focus on writing.

I have a home to return to. It’s been a long time since I’ve had that.

The camper I paid $560 dollars for is now in livable condition. It’s not complete yet but the majority of the work is done. Windows have been taped and sealed with plastic and boarded where needed. It’s air tight. Roof is sealed. Cushions are replaced. Wood oiled. New carpet. It’s small but solid and actually quite comfortable and easy to heat and I will make a decent profit from the sale when I’m done with it.

The truck I’ll be driving for work is in good condition and the trailer is excellent quality.

The new boss owns an RV Park outside of Fairview where I am parked for free. I won’t be signing any rental agreement. There is a very nice community building on site with laundry, showers, big screen, and more all in new condition.

The new boss is not a bad man. He does not have bad intentions. Its just the way things are done out here. There are too few of us who refuse those ways and that’s why they persist.

He drives the school bus for his young children. Is involved in the community. He spent the extra money to make a comfortable place for his employees to live. That’s a rare thing.

He was afraid of losing a driver because of the delays and thought he could help his relatives by putting me in a bind while he waited for his contracts to begin. I am certain his relatives can use the help but I’m a hard man to bind up.

There is no way he could know I am as resourceful and determined as I am until he did what he did and no way for me to know this would happen without coming here. It’s always a bit of a gamble because I can’t always fix a bad situation. I’m grateful that I did this time.

No, he is not a bad man.

This is the oilfield.

My journey continues

On October 8th of 2017 I drove 1,774 miles straight into hurricane Nate to find out if my Beloved and I had a future together. It appears that answer is “no”.

She is an extraordinary woman. Extremely intelligent. Highly creative. Spiritually evolved. She has a great career and is upwardly mobile. She is vibrant and alive. Sensual and sexual. Healthy and active. Has great kids. In short, she is everything I hope to find in a partner.

Almost everything. She would tell you the same about me.

Because I love her and have a deep respect for her no matter what, and because we are making the effort to remain friends, we spoke quite a bit before making this post.

What follows applies to everyone, including myself.

The two things I address most often when talking about relationships is our ability to manifest love through faith in action and our obligation to be as prepared as we can be.

Being prepared starts by knowing yourself and your needs. No one can ever truly know you if you don’t know yourself.

It means we acknowledge and address whatever issues we have as best we can. That we understand that we are complete as we are and that we embrace our wholeness.

It means we have a pretty good idea of what we want, and do not want, in a Lover. What type of person are they? What do we expect from them and what do we offer in return? How might our lives affect each other? Are we able to commit to the effort it takes to build a relationship? Are they?

It is so much more than “I want to be loved”. That sort of open ended desire leads to suffering. How do you want to be loved? What does it look like? What actions are involved? What do you bring to the table? What expectations do you have of your partner? Have you made room for them in your life?

I will not point to any of these examples and say “this is why we are not together” because the simple truth is that neither of us was fully prepared. Not in the way we needed to be. We are both worthy and deserving and I have no doubt that we will both find ourselves in incredible loving relationships. Just not with each other.

We do not see this as a “failure” and neither of us have any regrets. Making the move to be close to her was the right thing to do, there was no way for us to learn these things from a distance, and the opportunity to find real love is always worth the risk.

Our last day together as a couple was sweet. We went for a walk. Set up her porch swing. Did a little arts and crafts shopping. We sat close and talked and laughed. We kissed.

Two days later we mutually called an end to it and offered each other metta, a spoken intention and meditation of loving kindness: “May you be loved. Be happy. Be healthy. Live with ease.”

That is what I will always want for her, and for myself, because even though the relationship has ended, the love remains. We continue to communicate regularly and do our best to carry these intentions of loving kindness into action. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it, we are worth it.

I am grateful for our time together and will continue to learn from the experience as I do from everything that happens in my life. It was good to love and be loved, even if only for a little while. Love is a gift and loving her was a privilege.

I am not sure where to go from here, I guess I’ll discover that along the way, all I know for sure is that my journey continues.

 

 

I am not alone

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I wonder; will I ever become the man I have tried so hard to be? Will my past ever let go of me? Can I ever truly break free from it? Move beyond it?

I don’t know. I really don’t.

Most of my successes have been built on the back of my failures. I didn’t learn to be the man I am by getting it right but by screwing up, epically, and then learning from my mistakes and becoming proactive instead of reactive. To always be mindful. To listen to what it is I am feeling, understand it, then express it productively.

I try.

There are times when unexpected reactions bubble up and I become toxic. Reaction takes over. Erupts.

Is this failure? While “failure” is not a word I often apply to anything, it can be considered a failure if those reactions affect those I love.

It happens. I wish it didn’t, I wish to God it didn’t, but it does and when it does I can not help but feel as if it is the last mistake I am allowed.

Then I remember something I told a friend of mine, “It’s not the last fight until it’s the last fight.”

In treating one of those volatile reactions as the final act that drives the nail into whatever it is I am doing I literally provide the nail, and the hammer, and the force that drives the nail home. I manifest my fears by believing in them.

What I am doing is worth the effort. Where I am is worth the time to adjust to. Who I am with is worth loving and believing in. We are worth believing in.

I will not believe in anything but those things which further my path, our path, and our place in the world.

Yes, I will make mistakes, everyone makes mistakes. There will be times that the events of my past, a past I have spent so much time learning will come back to haunt me. The reason for this is simple; I have dealt with those things alone.

I am not alone. Not any more. I have a whole new set of lessons to learn now.

I look forward to the learning with the knowledge that it never ends.