Making Green: A Wage Slog Thread

It’s fun when you pay a lot for insurance and you go to the doctor so you can get a referral to see another doctor and it still costs you about 293 dollars.

Also showing up early for a job is good! Maybe it was the interviewer who was late.



Alright, it’s been about two weeks, this place has passed my vibe check (and hopefully I will pass the vibe check known as the probationary period).

I’m working at a school, sorta–it’s a school operated by a political organization that represents a number of indigenous nations in one part of the extended NW Ontario region. So, because a lot of those nations are very small and quite remote, it’s not feasible for either the nations or even a network of nearby communities to operate their own high schools. So, they go to school here in the larger city that I live in. Some of them live in a dormitory also attached to the school, some of them live with boarding parents, and some of them just live in the city with their families (since the school is for members of the aforementioned indigenous nations, not just people who reside within them, and many indigenous people have previously relocated to urban areas in generations past, while still retaining membership in those nations). Also some of them are homeless, still, but the organization I work for also recently opened a transitional shelter that houses those students a little more stably, which is great.

Attached to the school is, I suppose what I’d call a harm reduction care site for intoxicated youth going to the school or who are members of the aforementioned nations (I’m still a little hazy on the eligibility requirements but never mind). So, if a youth is drinking or doing drugs, and they feel it is not safe for them to either stay at home or to be alone for whatever reason, they can come to the site, either to just hang out while they sober up and/or calm down, or “sleep it off,” as we say. Although, youth in all kinds of crisis do end up there.

The site also operates a few other programs, outreach teams that go around the city and monitor places where it’s known for youth to congregate, just to keep an eye on them and to reach out to them if they need anything. Also an on call driver service that is basically like a taxi service for students of the school. We’ll take them either back to the site if needed, or we’ll take them home.

I’m primarily working within the site, meaning, letting in students, determining their intoxication level, making them feel safe, monitoring them when they go to sleep to make sure they’re still breathing normally, that sort of thing. The site is open and available 24/7/365, hence the long stretches of downtime I mentioned in the Movies thread. I also think this is awesome, because, well, no one, and least of all kids, can really 100% reliably plan when they’re gonna get way too drunk or high or just find themselves in crisis, intoxicated or otherwise (case in point, the last time we picked up a kid in crisis it was at 4am, really broke up the monotony of the overnight shift). I also did a shift as one of those aforementioned on call drivers. That was lots of fun.

The working conditions are pretty phenomenal, at least by my standards. I don’t know if I’d use the T Word but there might not be a better way to put it than that I’ve been traumatized by abysmal working conditions elsewhere. I’m shocked and not used to the idea that I work with a team, I’m not trying to accomplish something alone that should really be at least 2 people’s jobs, we have communication and organizational tools, we have procedures and policies in place, and that if I feel we need something I can request it, and if the manager thinks it’s a good idea, we just, like, get it, or change things. The facilities are new and clean, and there are actual redundancies in staffing. I was just one of six new hires for the site! Not all the same position, but, still, it seems that it’s pretty normal for people to cover different duties or positions, there’s lots of overlap anyway. The pay is great, there’s benefits, and I can get overtime (I don’t get paid overtime but I do get time off in lieu of pay) almost whenever I want (which I’ve already made use of, my bestie is getting married in July and I won’t have vacation time until after my probation, so I’m banking lieu time now). Sometimes when I’m talking to my manager or supervisor I figure I must come off like a hit dog, 'cause I’m so used to having to fight tooth and nail for basic working conditions and wanting to provide the best possible service.

So far, I’m really happy with this! Not enormously happy with working as many overnights as I have been, but, that’s kind of the price I need to pay for not being put on the day shift, and, well, I’m finding doing overnights is actually easier for me than working days, so, I guess that’s allowable.

Also I love the kids so much. They’re so funny and adorable. I like when they try and cause trouble and try to razz on you, even. Although it is hard when they take things too far and get in real trouble, and get expelled or suspended from the school and thus they become ineligible for services at the site. I’m very conflicted with this because of course that places them at even greater risk of harm and addiction, but at the same time they can’t be disruptive or a threat to other students or staff either. I’m kind of relieved it isn’t really my decision even if I don’t like having to enact those kinds of decisions.

One thing I’ve already learned about working with youth is that even though they might not always understand why things are the way they are, and they may have even less of an ability to know or figure out what to do about injustice, their capacity for perceiving injustices is incredible. Perhaps it’s because they have just developed the mental capacity to see the world around them on that deeper level, and the emotional capacity for a deeper and more meaningful sense of distrust and betrayal. And, then all that doesn’t necessarily grant them with the cognition and insight and knowledge necessary to understand why things are the way they are, which is often for good reasons that aren’t immediately apparent.

One incident recently, a student got all pissed off because we weren’t letting them leave when they wanted to leave. We administer a simple test during their intake to determine intoxication level (it’s just like normal hand-eye coordination and cognition stuff), and if they score even 1 we hold them and monitor them for a period of 1 hour, at which point we can administer the test again and discharge them if they want to leave. I mean, we don’t physically restrain them, so if they are determined to leave we’re not going to stop them, and that does open a whole other can of worms when it’s a minor, but, still. We hold them because there is always the possibility that if they drank on a full stomach or shortly before getting to the center, their intoxication level can increase after being admitted. And, you know, we can’t exactly just take them at their word if they say they haven’t been drinking or they stopped drinking at whichever time.

Anyway, this student was being held for an hour. But then, another student also came in around the same time. They scored a zero on the test. so, we didn’t hold them (there were other reasons for that too but they’re not important). In any case, the other student noticed this, and it increased his frustration at being held for what he viewed as an arbitrary reason. He even, perhaps accurately and perhaps not, that we had gone easier on the other student because she was a girl.

It really struck me that he made such a big deal out of it, because even though we have reasonable arguments for making the choices that we did, and it was in the interests of his safety, and even if whoever decided to discharge the girl without holding her for that 1 hour wasn’t doing so just because she’s a girl, the outcome was indeed a bit unfair towards him. So, he was ultimately right to be upset. It’s not like that means his perception of it didn’t have the unintended impact of heightening his frustration. So, there was a disconnect between the intention of our discharge policy (monitoring students to ensure that they aren’t going to get more intoxicated shortly after their intake) and the impact it had on this young man. I had tried to sympathize with him, reassure him that I don’t necessarily like that we had to hold him even though there wasn’t actually tangible need to do so. But I really wish I could have figured it out sooner that we really were misapplying a policy there. In fact, my supervisor did say that we would change the policy right then and there, and anyone who is admitted to the site will be held for an hour regardless of what they score on the test, because that’s the only way to keep it completely fair and to ensure the purpose behind the policy is actually fulfilled. I guess the difference between a 0.1% chance of unintentionally discharging a youth too early, and a 0% chance of doing that because we will never discharge a youth early, is significant.

At any rate, yeah, I’m going to try my best to not underestimate any of the youth when they are upset about something. Especially in the sense that the site is a resource for them to voluntarily keep themselves out of greater danger. Obviously it is a place with rules, and some of those rules are quite rigid. But I also feel that it’s a space where they should feel listened to and respected to the fullest extent that is feasible for us. Especially for these kids who in most other places in the world are so vulnerable just by default of them being indigenous youth, then on top of that them being so let down by so many other institutions, then on top of that being substance users, then on top of that their substance use is, well, criminal, in ways it isn’t for adults even, lol. Or even overpoliced for the students who do happen to be of legal drinking age (it’s 19 here, and, well, for a lot of reasons, there’s a decent amount of students that are of legal drinking age despite this being a secondary school). I’m gonna try my best to make sure I’m listening carefully when students are expressing frustration with something, because the site is the last place they should feel alienated or powerless overall, even if we are asking them to temporarily give up total freedom in order so that we can protect them from greater harm.

Gosh… I love these damn kids already, it’s only been about two weeks!! I think I really like this job. I hope I don’t fuck it up…


Although I just remembered now that, while we were out driving I had put on a jazz satellite radio station, both because I like jazz, but also because I thought it would be funny to casually subject the youth of today to jazz and to see how they would react. Honestly the station played some bangers too.

Sure enough one student asked me what was playing, which happened to be Boogie Stop Shuffle by Charles Mingus which I’m sure we can all agree is straight hot fire. So I told them. Then they said to change the station because the music was, well, a word in Cree or Oji-Cree that I didn’t recognize. Then they clammed up and didn’t explain what the word meant. After we dropped them off, my coworker translated for me–it meant white person!!! Excuse me, CHILD, we were listening to CHARLES MINGUS!!! I take it back, the kids aren’t alright until they understand that jazz is not for white people


last night was a legendary shift for local’s at the pier.

We don’t have a closin time. We just got a drinkin time.



someone tried to break into my van while I was at work. stripped all sorts of shit off the outside-- my shade cover, my vent covers, popped the hood. sad. expensive to repair.

1 Like

Very frustrating, sorry that happened!

all good just a “brain-person” (using your terminology), super glad they didn’t break a window or get inside. I feel violated but once I realized it’s a brain-person and not someone out to get me (like most people would assume), I was relieved. / w\

I’ve been working so much lately! summer season is picking up and I am getting a ton of great shifts and hours at the pier. stacking that paper $ and getting buff


Got a job at the local hockey/basketball/lacrosse/concert arena. I will be helping with setting up for events: converting the surface from a hockey rink to other things, building the stage for concerts, etc. Sounds interesting and different than what I’ve done in the past. It will be neat to have a job where I’m 1) actually busy and not just staring at a clock all day and 2) not directly involved in customer service. Also, I found out during orientation today that there’s a possibility of getting a forklift license. So I don’t even have to give up my forklift dream!!!