Illusions or Misconceptions


Can you relate? Is there more?

These are just some of the following questions and statements I have had to listen to, defend myself from and even said myself. How about you?

“You make you all that money you must be happy!”

“You don’t deserve to get paid that much.”

“I can’t believe you choose leave your family to go work all that time, I could never do that to them.”

“You do this work because you are uneducated and can’t find a real job.”

“It must be nice because you don’t have to cook all your food or clean up after yourself, it’s like a holiday!”

“It’s a glamourous life because you get to fly to work”

We are wired to take mental shortcuts and make snap judgements about people and environments. It’s how we navigate the endless amounts of information around us to determine friend or foe? Now we don’t have to worry about being eaten by sabre-toothed tigers or trampled by wooly mammoths but we still make these assumptions so that the world around us fits into nice easy to understand boxes. I have made many assumptions about this FIFO life and have had many people put me into what was a nice orderly box of what I must be like or who I am because of what I do for a living. Sometimes they were right, lots of times they were wrong.

“I can’t believe you choose to leave your family to go work all that time, I could never do that to them”

I have been guilted by this one more than a few times over the years and yes it is hard on my family. I never quite knew how hard it was on them because I never asked and only assumed they felt it exactly like I did and that they rationalized it exactly like I did. Wrong on both accounts. Communication and having a better understanding of the FIFO lifestyle along with healthy coping strategies going in would have helped tremendously. If you get it right, this life can be truly amazing I think!

“You have to do this type of work because you are uneducated and can’t find a real job.”

This one I heard lots in the beginning as I started out as a laborer in this industry and worked my way up for which I am proud of. It took time, some education, boatloads of experience both good and bad and a ton of hard work. I am proud to be in it working alongside some remarkable, intelligent and driven people. A misconception is that we just work from “The neck-down”, man, you can’t turn over a rock without finding an engineer, besides, it does take years of schooling and training to do most of the jobs here.

“It’s a glamourous life because you get to fly to work”

In the beginning you do feel like a total ROCK STAR or Indiana Jones!!!! At least I did, but the novelty soon wears off as you realized how cramped it gets on the plane and then the bus ride gets more and more mundane. Then the inevitable “Aisle” seat happens where your aisle facing arm and elbow takes a continuous beating from the steward cart as it passes by. The benefit is I am now fluent in French and English with the airline safety speech! In reality, it is a glorified bus ride.

“You must be happy making all that money!”

I used to believe this one 100%!!!! In the beginning it is in fact very true and can still be very true if that is important to you and you are a good steward of your money. To be honest, for me, the money never made me happy by itself, at best it was a band aid for some of the guilt I had for being gone so much. I also used it as a power play in my marriage which was totally unfair. I wasted a lot of money on things I didn’t need and I did not have a rainy day fund which kept me having to work away more and more to pay for the lifestyle I couldn’t really afford, I call this “The Golden Hand-cuffs!”.

“You don’t deserve to get paid that much! Why should you make that kind of money!”

This one I have to admit it really, really irks me! I have had people look me in the face and in a not kind way say that “You get paid too much!” I have at times responded with “Do you get to sleep in your own bed?”, “Do you have to miss, birthdays, anniversaries, kid’s sports or concerts?”, “When family emergencies happen are you able to be there almost immediately instead of in days?”. “I don’t get to, and that is why I get paid what I get paid.”. Other times, depending on the tone from the person I just say “Go fuck yourself!”. Sorry, I hate to swear but a misconception is that we are paid a King’s ransom and yes we get paid well but we have to give up a lot in the process. We get paid normal wages for the work we do, but we get a premium for the sacrifice of not being home and for giving up a large part of our lives. It’s not a life for everyone and it is harder than you think. I had one colleague say “It pays well, but it costs more.” So true!

“It must be nice because you don’t have to cook all your food or clean up after yourself, it’s like a holiday!”

Hahahaha! YES!!! Even my family has said this or felt this way about camp life! Correct, meals and lunches are prepared for us and that is great. However, we need this done for us because we don’t have the resources like a kitchenettes, or grocery stores available to us to do this ourselves. Besides, there would be a lot more camps burned down if we did have kitchenettes as someone, someday would forget to turn off a stove and light the whole place on fire! We are fortunate but at the same time it is industrial/commercial type cafeteria food that is not nor ever will be as good as a home cooked meal. We or at least I totally miss the food and it takes my body a few days to get used to comp food and then back to home food when I go home. Lots of weight fluxuation because of this. In no way does it feel like a holiday unless you wake up at 3am on your holidays wait in line to get food, wait in line to get on a bus and then repeat 12 hours later. It also takes a few days to get used to sleeping in a different bed! If you are like me, you deeply miss the comforting sounds and routines of home life (I like doing laundry, vacuuming, washing dishes, taking the garbage out trying to help with cooking – I never dust, I can’t reach the top shelf or ledges and just plain hate dusting LOL).

All in all, how I live FIFO life is very different than how others perceive it! How about you?