Friday, 25 January 2008

How To Be A Landscaper

I was put in touch, via email, with Larry McPherson back in October. Having spent part of the summer in Richmond, BC at my uncle's house, on my North American solo travels, I had been offered the possibility of moving abroad by my uncle, after I had decided against University for a second year and therefore no longer had any reason to stop me experiencing new countries and their cultures.

I had spent less than a University year working with computers; steadily realising that:
  1. Without previous experience, it was a lot of hard work
  2. It required many hours indoors; fuelled by coffee and pizza
  3. I knew very little about computers compared to everyone else there
  4. I wasn't enjoying it or looking forward to a future in an office building
My summer camp experience opened my eyes to careers that I would enjoy a lot more such as teaching or outdoors based jobs. With that new direction for my future career I was eager to try landscaping when first told about it; whilst in a dead-end, minimum wage retail job in Huddersfield.

I have been in a lot of different jobs and each one has been useful for me to decide my general direction in life. Retail jobs put me off future retail jobs, being a waiter was good because I liked talking to people and working in a team, cleaning showed me that I could do physical work if I put my mind to it and summer camp confirmed that I loved working with kids, as well as being outdoors.

From my experiences I have decided on a few possible career paths (a luxury that I certainly didn't have in school or sixth form!). Combining travel, teamwork and people skills is FLIGHT ATTENDANT, combining physical work and being outdoors is LANDSCAPING and combining travel and writing is TRAVEL WRITING.

Each of these (as well as teaching; which I don't really want to do until I am older) are now my ideal careers and I can focus on them for the next 10-20 years and hopefully become the best in a job that I can be. Travel writing could mean publishing my own books and landscaping could mean starting my own company somewhere down the line.

As you can tell by my very positive attitude to landscaping at this point, I am enjoying the work (though it can be hard) and was yesterday considering how far I could take it as a career. Essentially, I think I have passed my challenge from my last post and as I learn more about the job, I am excited to know that this could be the occupation that I have been looking for since the career-aptitude tests in high school.

The job is not all fun and games however; I have to be awake at 5:30am to be at work for 7:00am, after a bus ride across town, the work is repetitive (can be tough on my back) and by the time I arrive home (around 5:30pm) I have just enough energy to make myself lunch, eat dinner and spend a few minutes online before I am off to bed, ready to repeat the process!

Clearly outweighing all of these factors is the point that I enjoy being outside, getting fitter and am positive that I will eventually get used to every aspect of the job so that I can be awake later in the evenings and can therefore socialise with the people that I have met so far.

Shovelling compost from the truck

The weather has also been pretty good so far, averaging around 5 degrees Celsius in the sunlight, after about 9:00am. This means that I can work in only one or two layers of clothing and I enjoy myself more. In the shade the temperature is a lot cooler and complacency can lead to mild hypothermia (oops) if additional layers are not added when the sun goes away. If it does rain, my new Helly Hansen lightweight stretchy rain gear will do me perfectly well and my insulated “rubber boots” will keep my feet warm and dry.

The job entails travelling to one of the areas of Richmond contracted to West Coast Horticultural Services and trimming hedges, mowing lawns, spreading compost, raking leaves, weeding and shaping flower beds. The contracts are mainly residential estates where the property price includes to the homeowner the luxury of landscaping. Other areas contracted to Larry include malls and churches.

I worked 40 hours this week and will continue to do so for as long as the ground is not snow covered. Apparently Tuesday will bring blizzards but I’m not so sure. I am going snowboarding this weekend so it would be nice to get a break from exciting activities and work if it does snow...

My next challenge is (predictably) to learn to snowboard! I head up there Friday night and will be doing 2 days worth in Whistler (Vancouver Winter Olympics 2010 location!). Updates (and photos!) to come soon...


Luke Lichtenstein said...

Snowboarding is awesome...I used to go every year, that stopped about 3 years ago but I will be going this Aussie Winter - your Summer.
It's quite frustrating at first but after about an hour you should be carvin' it up! Apparently a friend of mines aunt and uncle have a property on Whistler so I should try get up there at some stage!
Glad to see everything is going well for ya Speedy. Best of luck with landscaping and make sure you don't chop your hand off with the Whipper Snipper...

Jonathan Fenn said...

I feel I should introduce myself as Chris' new found friend, co-worker, and long time member of good old Richmond, BC.

That being said, I'm pretty sure that something you're going to learn from this job, Chris, is that you can narrow your career choices down to two. Landscaping is fine for a week, it's not bad for a month, and you can even put up with a couple months, if you really need the money. However, eventually, if you have any other choice, I really hope you move on. Good to see you're positive about the whole thing, though.

In case you've never had the opportunity to give landscaping a go, here's the main problem: it's BORING. So boring. Oh well. Spending the money's fun...

Matt Reed said...

Tottenham Hotspur hosted Arsenal in a Carling Cup quarter final replay.
The final score was 5-1. (6-2 on aggregate)
Unfortunately for you, it was Spurs who won it, it was a cracking game!
It seems that Arsenal are no longer a team to be afraid of.
Inabizzzzzzz x

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