Good News!

I thought I had some really great news today. I got a call about a DPO job! Only for a month, but hey- I’ll do just about anything right now. A month as DPO would help a LOT!

I was actually in Houston for an interview for a different job when I got the call about the DPO. I think the interview went pretty well, but will have to wait and see what happens next week. I’m still not sure exactly what that job is all about.

When I got out of the interview (I had my phone turned off), I had another call about a job. This one was leaving immediately. Only for AB, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers! I still remember how to chip and paint. ๐Ÿ™‚

The DPO job is not a sure thing, they don’t even know for sure when they’d need me, or IF they’d need me at all. I figure a bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush (learned that lesson). I’m leaving early in the morning.

I’ll drive to Louisiana, get on the boat, deliver the boat to Columbia, fly back home. Should take less than 10 days if everything goes as planned (it never does).

I’m looking forward to the adventure. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ll be SO glad to be back at sea again. Only problem is- I’ll be incommunicado. They have no internet or phone. I swore I’d never take a job again where I couldn’t stay in touch, but it’s been so long since I’ve had ANY work. I’m just going to have to suck it up and keep hoping things get better offshore soon.

It’s hard to believe how people treat you when they know you’re desperate for work. Hard to believe anyone thinks it’s OK to send people to work totally cut off from the world for weeks at a time. Yes, we were all used to that, back in the day. Back when no one had internet or cel phones, it was bearable. We waited to get snail mail when we reached port. That was decades ago! Hard to believe employers still get away with treating their people like that. We’re not talking 3rd world employers either, these are Americans. ๐Ÿ™

Anybody out there from Columbia? I would love to learn more about it. I was there for a short time during high school, not nearly enough time.

A Bird in the Hand

Is worth two in the bush.

I should have thought about that little rhyme a little bit more last week.

I had 2 prospective jobs last week. There’s the catch- “prospective’. Not actual. ๐Ÿ™

I thought I was a shoe-in for both. I turned down one for the other that paid better. Lost out on both of them.

So, now I have nothing again.

I’m so disappointed.

I’m so frustrated

I’m so worried.

I’m so sad.

I’m so confused.

What should I do? What can I do? I want to just say the hell with it all and go away somewhere. I want to stop wasting my life here, hanging around trying to find work when there just isn’t any! I want to go spend some time somewhere where I can be happy, where I can do something useful, where I can have some fun, where I can learn new things, meet new people, try something different.

All I think of when I think of those things, is: how can I afford to leave? And to come back in time to renew everything I need to in order to keep my license? I need that license if I ever want to go back to sea again. If I don’t renew it in December, it’ll be like I’ve never stepped foot on a boat in my life, and I’d have just wasted 50 years of experience on the water! I DON’T want that to happen!

Actually, I’m starting to regret choosing this career. It’s mostly been good, it’s given me plenty of opportunities where I really enjoyed my job, plus plenty of time off and enough money to enjoy it. But, after all the years, after all the effort, after all the sacrifices I’ve made in order to keep working offshore- all it takes is the price of oil to drop and it’s over.

I’ve been out of work over 6 months already and there’s no telling when I’ll get back out there. IF I don’t manage to get enough sea time to renew next time, that’ll be it. It’s over! The way it’s going, the way the pundits are predicting, it might be years before the price of oil goes up, high enough for them to start hiring again.

There’s a lot more to it than just the price of oil. Mostly to do with the US Coast Guard and the IMO. That’s a whole other subject and enough for a book! All the things they’ve done to ruin this profession!

It’s an argument I’m having more and more often with myself. Keep trying, don’t give up til there is no hope of keeping that license? Knowing how much more time, effort, money and lost opportunities to LIVE LIFE? Or, give it up for good? Find some other way to support myself? Even the thought of that almost makes me cry. ๐Ÿ™

And what else could I possibly do? I have no idea. I’ve been trying for over 3 years to earn some income from this blog. So far I haven’t earned even one cent. I’ve been trying to earn income from my art- painting and photography. In over 3 years, I’ve earned a grand total of $5.33. I’ve tried to earn income from writing. That’s been my big earner so far. I’ve earned $250!

So- what else is there?

I’ve invested in property. I have recently started to just about break even. That is only if there are no major repairs to be made. There’s always something that comes up so I lose money every year. Only ONE of my properties is worth selling. The rest of them will lose me a LOT of money if I try to sell them (due to major structural damage that has occurred since I bought them). I put that ONE property up for sale to help tide me over this period of unemployment, but haven’t had ONE offer since it was listed. Sure, I could lower the asking price, but then I would lose out on what I’ve spent on improving that one too! The rent from that house is all that’s keeping me above water, I’ve basically had NO other income this year!

So. What else is there? I’m trained to be a mariner. That’s it. I have no other papers (except a Math degree which has been totally useless so far). It seems pretty much all the decent jobs out there require some kind of certificate (at minimum) now. Do I have the time and money to spend to get one? NO. I will jump ship the 1st time they call me to go offshore!

Same goes for working a shore side job like McDonalds or Walmarts. I have applied there. I figured they must have a pretty high turnover, so I don’t feel bad about quitting if I get a call to go offshore. Problem is, even those jobs are not calling. They’ve all told me they won’t even start hiring til August.

I haven’t felt this bad in a long time.

What to do, what to do…

Lost Out

…on work today (again). I was scheduled to work, but since we finished the training early yesterday, they called it off. So, I’ll have a grand total of 2 days of work for June. ๐Ÿ™

I counted it up last night. I’ll have a total of 16 days of paid work since the 1st of January this year. ๐Ÿ™

I’ve put off applying to local jobs since I’ve been spending so much time trying to find something in my field. A ‘real’ job. Job-hunting IS a full time job! Also been trying to find ways to earn money from my writing and photography (and this blog). Check out my photography for sale at Society6- or if you see any you like here on my blog, just send me a message. All my photos are for sale. Here are a few examples…

Yesterday I started filling out applications for local convenience stores (they do pay more than minimum wage).

It’s sucks, that someone with 2 college degrees (AAS in Ocean Marine Technology and BA in Mathematics) and over 20 years of experience can’t find ย anything but entry level employment. ๐Ÿ™

Sucks even worse that the only jobs I’ve seen for offshore are offering $60/day for CHIEF MATES! Now that, that is disgusting! Even worse, some are offering ‘jobs‘ for ‘trainee DPOs’ where the prospective DPO has to pay a few thousand dollars per month for the ‘privilege’ of spending time offshore!

This is for people who have college degrees and enough experience to earn a license! This is NOT any kind of entry level position. But these yahoos, these despicable people who run these predatory companies can get away with treating people like shit because of the situation offshore right now- the low price of oil and all the layoffs because of it. They take advantage of our desperation and fear of losing our ability to EVER return to the work we love (because of new licensing regulations) and they laugh all the way to the bank!

I have a pre employment test scheduled for Friday afternoon for a local tutoring job. At this point, I have to hope I get it. I don’t know if I can survive on only 2 days of paid work/month. I have to find something else to do. ๐Ÿ™

Maybe something like that will help pay the bills and if I only get part time I can still work in Houston and have enough time to keep hunting a ‘real’ job.

Oil prices are going up, but still a LONG way from getting back to work offshore again. This is really hurting a lot of people all over the country (and the world). All I can do is hope, I’m doing all I can.

Now What?

I know I haven’t been doing a lot with my blog lately. I moved it to a paid site and it has been driving me crazy since then. I’ve had a hard time even getting to where I can make a post lately.

It seems I’m at some sort of crossroads here. I just got laid off from my ‘real’ job. Yeah. I was on vacation in Nicaragua and they (finally) sent me an email. They wanted to know why I was refusing to return their phone calls!

I sent them an email back and told them that they should have known not to call me (besides the fact that we have NEVER done anything over the phone). I worked over last hitchย for a month expressly in order to be able to take this vacation and my ‘boss’ (the pool co-ordinator) knew perfectly well I would not be available til at least mid August.

Anyway, we finally made contact on the phone. I was thinking it was probably for bad news and I was right. They called me around 2 am Sunday night so they could tell me I was being laid off. Yeah, nice of them to call me. Kind-of put a bummer on the rest of my vacation. ๐Ÿ™

According to the company, due to the low price of oil, they have NO MONEY in the budget anymore for anyone in the resource pool. That is where I’ve been assigned since they hired me. I have no idea why they kept me in the pool. In actuality, I was getting more than a little sick of it. Still, it always sucks to be fired (laid off- same thing). Unless they give you a nice severance package, which of course they did not in this case.

I wonder how they plan to cover for all the people they have left when they need time off. That is what we were in the pool to do. They couldn’t really even manage when they DID have people in the pool! They have over a dozen ships they need to keep crewed up and each one has to have 4 DPOs onboard at all times. They only had 2 DPOs in the pool to cover for all those peoples vacations, sick leaves, time off for courses, etc. I know they kept me busy all the time.

Not my problem anymore. I know.

Now, my problem is to figure out what to do with myself. I’ve always worked and I’ve always been lucky enough to have skills that have been in demand. That is no longer the case all the sudden. For months now, I have been watching the news and hearing from friends how jobs have been cut by the thousands. Most of my friends have already been laid off.

I’m pretty sure there will be no work available in my field until the price of oil goes back up and stabilizes and the companies start hiring again. Winter is always slow anyway, so I don’t expect there to be ANYTHING til at least next Spring and maybe not even then.

So. Now what?

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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)ย 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.