Columbia Helicopters – Part 2

Columbia finished up by Clark Fork in spite of the guy with the shiny new “tin hat.” Learning the ways of any new job can be confusing and with 10,000 pounds flying around, the consequences can be severe. So, phew!

We moved south to Coeur d’Alene and it was a two-hour drive from the Dead End so I got a motel room. It was an example of what a motel should be like. It was a series of little cabins and I could park my car right outside. The manager (who by the way, was eligible for Medicare) sat in a recliner in front of a picture window. She lit her cigarettes from the previous smoke. She had a giant ashtray stacked high with butts. It was like a freshman in college stacking empty 12-pack boxes as a sign of accomplishment.

Summer brought conditions that were perfect as long as it stayed under 85 degrees. Above that, the ship couldn’t lift enough weight to justify the fuel and labor expense. It was hard for the loader to keep up and so he had to put a lot of dirty logs in the trim deck. That took some pressure off of me, the knot bumper and fit right in with my tendency for procrastination. I paid with interest later.

The loader operator and I stayed after everyone else had quit for the day. After a ten-hour day we went another three or four. The guy was constantly opening the door of the Cat 966 and yelling at me to hurry up. We had several trucks waiting so going late took a load off the next day’s work.

Finally the trucks quit coming and the piles of logs were cleaned up. We headed down the mountain. I can hardly believe today what good shape I was in to keep at it like that. About halfway home I told my master to stop so I could get out and upchuck.

The Coeur d’Alene project lasted into winter and I was homesick for the Dead End so I quit and went home. We had wood to cut for winter and the snow gets really deep in Northwest Montana, at least it used to.

When living like my frugal mom taught me, I could take winter off and live on savings. I made $7.62 per hour in the mid-seventies. That was pretty good and I had no gym expense.

Google employees are forming a union. They are organizing to have more say in Google’s policies, not wages. The median pay at Google is $258,708 per year.

There are trade-offs in life. I’ve enjoyed physical work in the natural world. I imagine Google employees shop for fashions and work in an environment devoid of any life but what sticks out of a collar. They pay to run an exercise machine that produces nothing, and climb fake cliffs. That might explain the wide acceptance of fake money.

How fortunate we are that there are “different strokes for different folks,” as Sly Stone wrote in 1968. Google employees can have their cubicles and outlandish wages. That keeps them from clogging up our beautiful countryside.

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