It was 7:40 AM. I had just finished breakfast service and was on the back deck having a smoke. I was expecting it to be a long day, and it was, although not for the reason I thought it would be.
I purposely started later than usual that night. It was part of a two night plan to prepare to go to the day shift where I would be responsible for Dinner. I was going to take a nap and then come back at it some hours later. But my plans changed.
“They’re sending you home today,” the outgoing chef I thought I was to replace told me. “Oh, OK,” I said. He thought I’d be mad, but there was no sense in that. Anger is often wasted energy.
I finished cleaning the kitchen and collected my tools. After the morning safety meeting, I had about two hours to pack before I would leave. I put in a load of laundry and started emptying drawers onto the bed. “How did I get all this in the bags I brought?” I wondered. The laundry ended up traveling in the laundry bag.
I was told that the decision to send me back early had nothing to do with my performance, but a scheduling issue. I shrugged in aquiessence. The situation was out of my control.
I dozed on the truck drive back to Edmonton, and was ready to hit the road when I finally reached my own truck. I had planned to be up most of the day anyway. But when I hit the Saskatchewan border at the city of Lloydminster, the coming darkness overpowered me and I became very sleepy.
I decided to pull into the Walmart parking lot to bed down in the back of the truck for the night. I got some supplies: a baguette, some mortadella and mozzarella, as well as a bottle of OJ. I was happy and comfortable back in my truck bed, where I enjoyed my Walmart spoils and watched a few videos. Before long, I was asleep.
The morning was lazy. It was cold outside my covers and I had no desire to leave my cocoon. Eventually, I conceded and donned a hat and my puffy jacket as I transitioned back to the cab of my truck to continue my journey.
I was driving to the east where morning clouds were glowing with pre-dawn light. As I drove into the sunrise, I felt a sense of communion with the prairies. I was part of the larger industry reaped from these lands. It was both oddly satisfying and sad at the same time.