One Day

I worked yesterday. One day. That’s it for the month. I got a total of 4 days for July. I’m thankful, but somehow that’s just not enough.

I was reading the latest Workboat Magazine. I saw an ad for cooks and galley hands and it actually got my hopes up. Until I called this afternoon and they told me they weren’t really looking for anyone. They got a special deal on ads, so they were running them every month regardless of not needing anyone. 😦

I never imagined that I would ever again be so thrilled at the prospect of a job as a galley hand! I thought those days were long gone. After all the time, effort and money I’ve invested in myself to earn a master mariners license and I’m back to the position of jumping at any chance to be a galley hand, and thrilled for the opportunity. How sad.

It seems to have become standard practice for companies these days to advertise constantly when they don’t want to hire anybody. Then most of them refuse to respond in any way. I was lucky today to reach a company that actually answered the phone with a human being! It’s much better to be told the truth, rather than hanging on hope when there’s really nothing there to hope for.

I keep wondering what society will be like when such large numbers of people are put out of work. So many people are now being replaced by robots. What are we all going to do? It’s bad enough already when people who used to make good money have lost those jobs to overseas workers and have to work for minimum wage instead. They can’t afford to buy anything American made anymore, so even more jobs are shipped overseas.

People say it’s like back in the days when cars replaced the horse and buggy. What happened to the people that made horse whips? Or swept up the horse shit? I understand why they bring up that comparison, but I don’t think it’s really the same situation.

First of all, we had a much smaller population (in the US and worldwide). Second of all, we were not so ‘globalized’ back then. Americans were not all competing against foreigners who could do the work so much cheaper- transportation and communication systems were not up to the job. Third, the pace of change is so much faster. A person used to be able to learn a trade and spend decades, if not a lifetime, doing one thing. Not any more.

How many skills can one learn in a lifetime? How good can you get at a skill if you’re forced to learn another every couple of years? How can you afford to constantly re-educate yourself, especially when everything now requires specialized, expensive ‘training’ and a piece of paper?

Can this country survive when the vast majority of us are either unemployed or barely surviving on minimum wage jobs?

Maybe, but I’m not sure I want to see it.

Limbo 2

Have you ever felt like you were in limbo? I rarely have. But I am feeling like that right now. I hate it!

I’ve always been one to have a goal. To have something, at least in the back of my mind, to work towards.

Up until fairly recently, that goal was to become ‘a ships captain and sail around the world (and get paid for it)’. I FINALLY achieved that goal in December of 2011. I earned my Master AGT (any gross tons) from the US Coast Guard. I was so happy, so thrilled, so stunned, to have FINALLY earned what I had worked so long and so hard for.

But, since then, I have been a little bit lost. I had been trying so long and so hard to reach that goal, that I hadn’t really figured out ‘what next?’

I’m still in that phase. Trying to figure out ‘what now?’. I was OK with that until I got laid off. Having work always kept me occupied. I never had to think about what was next. Working, and then busy as hell when I was home. I was able to travel, take courses, work on projects, etc. All because I knew I only had a month or so at home to get everything done that I needed to do.

Now, I am out of work (with no access to unemployment pay due to foreign employment over the last year). There is NO work in my field. I doubt there will be any until the price of oil goes back up to at least $70-80 per barrel. Hundreds of thousands of people have been laid off already in the oilfield and there are still more layoffs in the news every day. 😦

According to the people who think they know about this kind of thing, it could take another 2-3 years for the price to go back up to the point companies start hiring again. Some ‘experts’ think oil could go back up to $100 next year. Some people think it never will due to alternative energy increasing in efficiency and affordability (I think it will be decades before that happens).

So, I am in limbo. I am HOPING to get some work over the holidays (one trip now would give me 2-4 months leeway to find something else). All of my usual sources have dried up. I have ONE recruiter still telling me he’s got something coming up, but nothing definite yet. Christmas is less than a week away. I’m losing hope, but still not ready to throw in the towel yet.

So….. what am I going to do?

I WISH I could just say the hell with it all and ‘retire’! I WISH. But, if I plan to live more than 10 years, then I just can’t see how I could possibly survive for any time past that. Those 10 years would have to be spent living somewhere with a MUCH lower cost of living then the USA. I’m not objecting to that at all, in fact I would LOVE to move NOW to one of those places. The problem with that is that they won’t let me until I’m retired and/or have a ton of money!

Since I don’t know how long I might live, and hopefully it’ll be more than 10 years, I need to figure out some OTHER way to earn a living. I have all kinds of ideas. I’ve already tried a few: vending machines, rental property, investing in the stock market, painting, writing, photography, blogging. Not one of them has made anywhere near enough money for me to consider concentrating on just that one. The rental property comes close, but I’m still at the point where I need to subsidize them with regular work. 😦

I found a temporary job ashore through an old friend. It pays about 1/5 of what I normally make. It’s not every day. It won’t start up again til the end of January. It won’t pay the bills. But it pays 2-3 times more than any OTHER job I’m likely to find here. It helps.

I’m considering taking the TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) course. No, it won’t be enough to pay the bills either, but at least it will allow me to move somewhere less expensive to live. I think I might actually enjoy teaching and it might turn into something really interesting. The biggest problem with that is my fear/expectation that I would have to dress/act in a ‘professional manner’. UGH! I hate the thought of that!

So, while I sit around the house, hoping to get a call for a ‘real’ job, I try to work on my other (hopefully someday money-earning) projects. My writing, photography, blogging. Problem with that is I’m getting so depressed with the situation around here that I don’t feel like doing ANYTHING.

All the things I’d normally be doing in my time off, like sailing, going out to see friends, going to the zoo, going to do things in Houston, traveling, are either too expensive or I put them off cause I just don’t feel like getting out of the house. I’m getting super lazy, doing less and less every day. I didn’t even take my daily walk yesterday (I did today).

I really hate being in this situation, this limbo. If I knew for sure I could get regular work, and when, I could make some kind of decision. Knowing I would be leaving soon would motivate me to get off my ass and get some of these projects around the house done.

If I knew for sure there was no work (not still hoping to get some), I might decide to take the enforced time off to take the TEFL course. Or just take the time to concentrate on fixing this blog (the total disaster of moving it still needs to be fixed). Or work on photography. Or writing. Or painting.

Or, I might look harder at some of those sailboats looking for crew. That would be a cool adventure! I only wish they paid something, but there are always so many people out there willing to go for just the experience, or even to pay themselves! I know I would make a good crew on any passage. Too bad I don’t have the money now to put in for costs, or pay for transportation. 😦

So, limbo. I wish I knew something to do to motivate myself (other than having a job pop up).

Rumors

The big discussion I’ve been having with everyone is over the price of oil and how it will affect us (we all work in oil related industries).
I’m sure for most people, it must be just such a nice bonus, especially this time of year. To have the price of a barrel of oil cut in half over the last few months is probably giving most people a little bit extra to spend on Christmas presents.
I think it’s got to be a boon for the world economy. Oil plays such a HUGE part in our everyday lives. Most people don’t even realize.
It’s not only used to fuel almost the entire transportation industry worldwide (there are a few electrically powered cars now), but it’s used in so many OTHER things we never really think about.
Things like plastic, which is itself used in almost everything. Like pharmaceuticals, fabrics, lubricants, fertilizers, chemicals, CDs, artificial limbs, and here’s a link to a list of some other uses.

Of course, I do have a life outside of my job. 😉 I love it when the price of gas goes down and I can think about going exploring around my neighborhood again. I appreciate when the price of a plane ticket goes down. I love it when the prices of all the things I have to buy drop because the price to deliver them to the market drops. (Why does it always seem that it doesn’t drop as much as it SHOULD?)

But, since I’m working in the oilfield (again), on a drillship, looking for MORE oil, when the price of oil drops it’s not usually a good thing. The oil companies we work for definitely take note, and things start slowing down out here.

New projects are delayed or canceled. Boats and rigs are put into storage. Crews are laid off. Like most people, we’re also living paycheck to paycheck.

So the rumors are flying. We’ve all heard about companies already paying millions of dollars to back out of contracts. Projects being cancelled. Rigs with no contracts. People in super-high demand a couple of months ago unable to find work and others being laid off. Companies starting to change their policies so that working for them is not as good as it was last year (they realize we are not as willing to just jump ship if we don’t know we have another job or 2 waiting in the wings).

We’re all wondering if our companies are going to keep their contracts (and so we will be able to keep our jobs). We’re wondering how low will the price of oil go this time and how deep the cuts.

Yeah, I think it’s a help to the worldwide economy when the price of oil drops. I also know that the price of oil affects the entire oilfield and everyone related to it. It’s a HUGE influence all over the Southern US. So many people all over Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida work offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, they support entire counties in those states with their paychecks!

The shale boom from Texas up through Oklahoma and the Dakotas (and all the way up into the Northeast) has helped bring the US out of the “great recession” (finally). Shale drilling is already screaming to a halt. The boom in those states will go with it.

So we’re all just wondering, how low can the price of oil go and for how long?

Voting by Exodus Part 2

Voting by Exodus Part 2.

I was just in an interesting facebook discussion this morning that touched on some of this. I like the point they made in this article that the relationship between a business and its employees is supposed to be SYMBIOTIC.

No one should get paid more than they are worth to the business, neither regular employees nor big wigs and CEOs. I find it really hard to believe than any CEO can bring over 500 TIMES the worth of any other employee to any company. I’m sure there are exceptions, like when the CEO is the inventor of a product, or they founded the company, but most of them look like they just do the job anyone with a business background could do. Just like the people ‘we’ elect as president of the country don’t really do it all, they depend on their advisers and all the people who work under them to make them look good (if possible). We don’t insist they have experience as president or a track record since we innately KNOW that is the truth.