Long Post Alert: Richard's Beautiful Anecdote about his Life
"I hope they have air conditioning," I thought to myself, only half-jokingly.
The weather had finally gotten warm, and I was walking into the WorkBC Centre Whalley for my Career Planning workshop. My Employment Counsellor Hueda had booked me in and I was able to attend this course after only a week or so. After a few days I would have the information I needed for my 1-on-1 resume building opportunity.
After checking in, I took my seat in the training room and started to look over the materials. I thought back to my initial meeting with Hueda earlier in the month and thought how things were finally coming together. It had been a long road since my last full-time day of work. It still sounds silly to say "COVID changed everything" but it really had. I hadn't worked a full real shift since the first lockdown, and it was all downward from there.
I had been working as an IT employee at a mine in Northern BC. Rotational work; two weeks on, two weeks off, staying in a camp facility. It was great, although the weather and isolation were fairly extreme. But I had a bigger problem, and I was about to learn that denial can only last so long in strained circumstances. This camp was a dry camp -- no alcohol, no drugs -- and I had a serious drinking problem. I kept it under control due to being "clean" two weeks at a time while at work and letting loose on my time off. Little did I know that as soon as flights were grounded and the mine closed, there would be no control, and everything would fall apart.
No work meant no reason to dry out. If I was awake, I was drinking. Eventually I was hospitalized. Seven blood transfusions and eleven days of re-learning to stand and walk later I was released. I think I managed to stay off of alcohol for one day. I relapsed almost immediately. After finally getting the help I needed with my addiction and starting treatment, I found myself with a new problem: one day I went home from a session to find home wasn't there. I was evicted and homeless. They were done with my behaviour.
Once housing was sorted and I was out of the shelter, employment became the primary focus. This was by far the largest gap in work I ever had, and everyone else had the same excuse: COVID. My resume was already years out of date before I stopped work, and I had no references or contacts -- I barely had an address -- to bolster my credibility. Hueda understood these concerns, and after the first workshop and a draft resume in hand, I was referred to the Life Skills workshop. I admit I thought this was going to be of little use, however I was wrong. It was a great experience and it grounded me back in reality.
From there, it was time to hit the proverbial pavement. I was supplied with a document for logging all my applications and I stayed in contact with Hueda regularly for listings and advice. The IT market was slow to recover but eventually the finalized resume and all the support paid off and I was hired -- full time and immediate start. In fact, I was offered the job the same day as the interview. That was a first!
It was always a positive place to be at WorkBC Centre Whalley. I always felt Hueda was there to help and truly wanted my best outcome. Hueda kept in regular contact and would find leads I wasn't able to find myself. Any time I lacked motivation to move forward it didn't last long. I arrived there from what I considered to be embarrassing circumstances; however, I was always treated with dignity.
My heartfelt thanks go to Hueda and all the WorkBC staff for getting me back to employment. The expertise, assistance, encouragement, (and humour!) got me through one of the worst global work stoppages in history. I am eternally grateful.
Oh, and yes, the air conditioning was much appreciated too!!