I’m a 4th class power engineer. I started off as a 5th class power engineer back in 2002.
Power engineering isn’t what I wanted, but it was what as available to me if I wanted to finally get away from wages that had me just treading above welfare.
I was working for a property management firm in Vancouver at the time doing building maintenance. Pump repairs, chiller maintenance, building automation, etc.
I wasn’t trade qualified and I didn’t have a red seal. But what I had was an ability to read and comprehend service manuals and parts diagrams. I could read schematics and I understood electrical safety.
So, if I didn’t want to be a power engineer, why am I a power engineer.
As I’ve alluded to previously, my father didn’t give a shit about school. To my father my teachers and principals were all stunned cunts, stupid fucking cocksuckers, and fucking assholes. My teachers were forever sticking their noses into his fucking business. They were calling him at work and disturbing him. My academic problems were obviously caused by their fucking inability to teach.
When I left school at the start of grade nine, he didn’t give a fuck in the slightest. I just had to pay him $100.00 per month to stay in my room, otherwise I’d have to move out. Which I did in the winter of 1988.
Even if I had stayed in school, trade school, college, or even university would have not been options for me.
As I would discover later in life, Richard joined the Royal Canadian Navy in 1963 with a low mark grade 9 education which he had to upgrade before the RCN would admit him in 1963.
He sailed the world, he learned trade skills, he learned to fly aircraft.
Not bad for a prairie boy from a one room school house in Fort McMurray, AB.
He did all of this without a university education, nor a college degree, nor any type of trade school.
Even though I have my grade 12 GED, I’ve always downplayed what that means.
Before I was allowed to apply for the 5th class power engineer program at BCIT I was required to take a couple of tests to prove that my mathematical skills were at least at the grade 10 level.
I passed my 5th class power engineering course.
Called and let Richard know.
Didn’t give a fuck in the slightest.
I accumulated sufficient time as a 5th class power engineer to challenge the 4th class power engineer provincial exam.
I passed that with ease.
Called Richard and let him know.
Just like the last time, he didn’t give a fuck.
In September of 2005 I was hired at the physical plant at the hospital and I called Richard to let him know.
Absolutely didn’t give a fuck. He didn’t need a union in the Canadian Forces so why the hell do I need a union? He then said that I was still dumber than my younger brother who he was sure was making more money than I was and he worked in a “cardboard box factory” making more money doing far less. So it was obvious that I wasn’t the smart one.
This is what led to me leaving all of the messages with Richard in August of 2006.
Now, to be honest, power engineering has provided me with employment at a wage that wouldn’t normally be available to a “loser” like me.
So, what is a power engineer?
A power engineer is someone who has been granted a certificate of competency to operate and be in charge of a refrigeration plant or a steam plant / heating plant of up to a specific heat exchanger surface areas.
This includes inspecting the entire plant once per day, minor maintenance, adjustment of equipment, checking fluid levels, maintaining chemical levels, and ensuring that the equipment is operating at peak performance in a safe manner.
In the hospital this also involves responding to fire alarms, conducting elevator extractions, testing the generators and fire pumps, diagnosing minor refrigeration issues, filter changes on the supply fans.
And in 2019 I was promoted to chief engineer.
I go well far above and beyond what a power engineer is required to do.
Don’t forget, power engineers have a “certificate of competency”, not a “trade qualification” or an “inter-provincial red seal”.
I can troubleshoot the building automation system down to component level. I’ve installed networked temperature monitoring equipment for logging the temperatures of medical and pharmaceutical refrigeration.
I upgraded the chemical monitoring systems for all of the cooling towers.
I was responsible for having all of the major supply fans converted from variable pitch mechanisms over to fixed pitch hubs with variable speed drives.
I was responsible for replacing close to 60 older pneumatic HVAC mixing boxes in the laboratory area with newer electronic mixing boxes.
I put in the current fuel monitoring system that automatically calls in the refuelling company when certain fuel levels are attained.
I pushed to have the four main cooling tower replaced in 2016 when after 25 years of neglect the old towers were a liability to the hospital.
I just finished the upgrade of the building automation system in Phase 1 Level 4 to replace the old Honeywell Excel Plus system that could no longer be serviced.
I implemented tablets for rounds and readings software.
I implemented the Angus mobile software for the aforementioned tablets for tracking of work orders.
So, why don’t I feel happy?
I’ve known for a very long time that this isn’t the line of work that I wanted to be in. And I don’t mean being the chief engineer at work. I mean being in hands on mechanical / electronics type work.
The key to this was in my social service records.
“When asked why Robert likes computers and electronics, he said that he wants to learn this so he can be closer to his father”
Fuck was I ever a damn idiot back then.
At work I find that playing stupid is the best way. Most of the power engineers that I supervise have no mechanical, electrical, or electronic skills. And one thing that I’ve had to learn in life is that if someone doesn’t have a mechanical intuition they will never learn mechanics. If I need something done I either do it myself or I contract it out.
I liken a power engineering certificate to a driver’s licence.
A driver’s licence states that you are qualified to operate a motor vehicle. A driver’s licence does not vouch for the mechanical aptitude of the car driver. Some car drivers can drop their own blocks and rebuild the big end and press a new oil seal, while some car drivers can’t even top up their own windshield washer fluid without nearly killing themselves.
With power engineering it’s the same thing.
Some power engineers know how to weld.
Some know how to wire electric motors.
Some know how to press bearings onto shafts.
Some can understand digital logic, and understand control signal and feedback while other power engineers can’t even bring up task manager on Windows or know how to check for +15, -15, +24, +5, and -5 volts on a connector that is clearly labeled.
But Bobbie, if you don’t like this stuff, why do you keep doing it?
As a kid I tried to win my father’s affection, which as it turns out was a lost cause.
When I moved out of the house when I was 16, I had two things going for me. My mechanical intuition and my skills in electronics.
These two abilities ensured that I had employment when otherwise I would have probably endured a life on the streets with my grade 8 education and my mental illnesses.
I scratched and clawed my way up through industries that I never should have worked for but they were willing to overlook my mental issues and my lack of formal education in trade for putting my mechanical and electronic skills to use.
What could I have been if Richard had just given the slightest of a fuck (and if CFB Namao hadn’t occurred)?
I liked theatre and play production at school. At Elia Jr. High and at Pierre Laporte Jr. High I worked on lighting for plays and I did sound setup and sound mixing. Pretty well the same thing at Pierre Laporte. I did sound and lighting for school productions. I repaired the old 20 channel dimming panel. Needed a whole bunch of new trials to replace the ones that had burnt out due to shorts in the fixtures.
Theatrics would have been interesting.
Theatrics would have cost a shit ton of money to get into and a lot of support from home, so realistically theatrics would never have been an option.
Working on cars? Nope, I’ve always hated cars. I’ve owned cars for 7 years of my 35 years of holding a driver’s licence.
So, I go to work everyday.
What else am I going to do?
Am I going to quit my job and retire after I win mad-mad-money in my class action? Fuck no. If I walk away with $30k from that whole fiasco I will be greatly surprised. This is the Government of Canada that I’m dealing with, not the Catholic Church.
But Bobbie…… lots of people hate their jobs.
Well, lots of people love their jobs.
Anyways…….. until next posting.