Saturday 9 October 2021

Teaching at Minus Fifty - Part Two

Teaching at Minus Fifty - Part Two

A note about the title of these little missives. I was originally interviewed by three principals, all in the North. The interview went on for an hour and near the end there was some time for general questions about living/working in their various localities. My eventual choice mentioned how they did not open the school at -50 C; a severe cold day, if you will. One of the other principals piped up with, "Oh, yeah: well, we close the doors at -40!" I waited until someone offered teaching on a cruise ship in the Caribbean, but, darn it never came up. Guess we're goin' North! 

After we got to our home, there was this crazy feeling of what are we going to do first and damn I'm hungry. Hunger took second place, with what we are going to do being the rapid unpacking of suitcases (all eight, plus two backpacks). Once that was complete it was time to dig through the boxes that had already arrived in our home prior to our arrival.

Prior to departure we soon discovered that other than bedding, Canadian Tire has reasonable prices and suitable delivery rates. Who would have thunk it, eh? I honestly rarely stuck my nose in a Canadian Tire store during the ten years when I came back to Canada for summer visiting and vacation. They have *everything* and we placed a number of orders - they were all waiting for us to rip and peel them open.

The other source for outfitting our home was Walmart. It sure took some internet gymnastics to get them to come round to the idea that yes there is a small community in Northern Canada that doesn't do home address delivery and no, you'll have to ship to my school's PO Box. They came through - and those boxes were really important since that is where the bedding was hiding.

Out comes the bedding, made up go the beds.

That was enough by that time - we were so bushed I have no recollection if we ate anything. Actually I know we did, since our food order was not there we called upon my new boss to help us out. And that he did - some UHT milk cartons and boxes and some water. Perfect to go with the four boxes of cereal we brought in one suitcase. =D

I think we slept ok - travelling the way we did tends to wear you out, so sleep came easily. By morning of the 10th it was now all about what comes next. Oh yeah, all that stuff piled in nooks and crannies and all those empty drawers to fill... and say do you want the dresser there or there? New homes bend really nice.

Hunter only spent part of the night with us, "No room. Toooo hot!" and the remarkable Thy helped get her into her own bed. She's since come to visit once and dragged Thy back to her room a couple of times. I think she is adjusting well. 

Food became an obsession. It was obvious that our ordered food wasn't going to be coming anytime soon - it only arrived from the supplier to the Montreal airport on that day, so it wasn't coming North anytime soon. I got familiar with our waybill number and the Air Inuit website, checking like every couple of hours or so. I also finally bought a membership on Flight Radar 24, something I've been meaning to do for some time now but it became a necessity: with my tummy a-grumblin' I needed that additional distraction of watching for a plane that might come our way.

My boss came through again, with a food run that included additional milk, water, toilet paper, monster turkey breasts and fruit. The latter we needed for our prayers (documented in the photo section). I cannot begin to tell you how supportive my new employer has been - there was no way they were going to let us starve. Maybe it's just me, but it was quite a change to go from an employer who didn't really give a shit about your personal well being to an employer who was willing to drop everything to help you. This generosity will not be forgotten.

The next concern was water. Like most Northern communities there was a boil water advisory in place when we landed. In a way that was no different than what we recognized and understood in Vietnam. Shower in it, brush your teeth with it, but don't drink it and boil the hell out of it when cooking. The biggest difference was the actual availability. There are no water pipes running through the community; simply not practical. So, water is delivered by truck. Sadly that job is not well respected so the stops to drop water is infrequent at best. You have to plan your water usage, for both consumption and, well, waste disposal. Tricky, but for me, at least, it was about time I started being more responsible in how I use this valuable resource.

All about the strategic management of resources. Big words when you are sharing a bathroom, trust me.

I'll end this part with a little story from yesterday. We got a knock at the door mid-morning. This nice lady said she was with the Federal government and was coming to complete a census form with us. "You've been here since before the end of May, correct?" "Ah, no, we just got here on Monday." "Monday, this week?" "Yes, it is day five for us." "Oh, thank you but you cannot complete this form - I will have to talk to my manager and then maybe come back later." "Ok with us." Just wait until the "where have you been the last ten years" questions start to come down; she honestly looked at us like we were from Mars. Don't mind that in the least. 

More as it develops.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Teaching at Minus Fifty - Part Seventeen

So, back to writing again. New position at the school has me writing a lot more than I am used to, so keyboard time is preoccupied with that...