Where ya been, Joel?

Playing Xbox and driving for Skip The Dishes mostly.

Pickin’ Fruit…

What is working for Skip The Dishes like?

Not bad, but its not the fast way to fortune if that’s what you’re after. Last night (Thursday) I made $23/hr on a 4hr Shift. But that’s rare, a couple factors played into such a high tally I figure:

  • Christmas Season
    • Folks are together, but they’ve already cooked and eaten the turkey
  • Colder Weather is finally coming around

But surely, the biggest reason of all (or at least that’s what I plan to prove):
Team Canada was playing in the World Junior Championship Tournament.

If that doesn’t call for the average Joe to order in some grub, I don’t know what else would.

Other than that, working for Skip, I’m averaging anywhere from $8-$16/hr. This morning I was on shift from 9am-1pm, I made $2.95. One delivery, no tip. That’s never happened before. So if you’re thinking of trying the gig out, make sure you’ve got a comfortable place to hang out when there’s no orders. My girlfriend lives downtown Moose Jaw, so I’m golden. The low pay is compensated with free time, you have no boss breathing down your neck, and you can pick your own hours which is a huge kicker for me, who’s currently working irregularly as a Charter Bus Driver. This big ole Beast…

Why aren’t you in Belize like usual?

No Money, man. This past summer I opted out of hopping back on the Fruit Truck, a beyond full-summertime-gig that usually has me hitting November with a cool 7 or 8 grand in my pocket. That’s how I always made the money to travel. Work Apr-Oct, Travel the rest. Come home broke. Repeat. This year I decided to change it up… after returning from Belize, flat broke as usual I went Tree Planting. After quitting one and a half months early, I took off to BC for the beginning of Fruit Picking Season. ’Twas the summer of learning about piece work. And what did I learn? That it ain’t for me, bub.

Before too long I was scheming up easier ways to make money. The Pay-Per-Pick thing does not bode well with my personal attention span. How can I focus on picking cherries FASTER when I’m sitting on top of a 12-foot ladder getting a view of the sunrise over Orchard Country, Okanagan, Canada? I can’t. It was a Hell of a Summer though.

*Before All this and Tree Planting, I road tripped down to Belize With Simba the Good Truck. Story by Photos Can Be Seen Here

What’s Fruit Picking Like Jolie Blue?

Well ya make $5 for every 20lb box you pick. You get a free place to pitch a tent (or Park Simba in our case) and camp within the orchard, You basically start asking around for a place that needs pickers, but once the first week of July hits, Everybody needs pickers, I mean you’ll see signs on the road begging you to come in and pick their cherries. So how many 20lb boxes can you pick in a day? 8 or 9 was my number.

There’s a lot of Mexicans, the rumours are true… but when people scoff that you’ll be working with Mexicans, one tends to imagine them to be 50 years old and depressing… Somehow, I did at least. Nah, they’re all 20-somethings travelling the world and making a little spending coin. They’re like Me when I’m down there. Cool folks! Great Mexicans, just great. 

 You can pretty much start as early you want, sunrise is a common time for obvious reasons. But typically you can only pick up until 1PM, as it gets too hot. Sometimes the evening is a go.  If you’ve ever head cherry pickin’ ain’t no fun because you’re doused in pesticides all day long. It’s true. It’s pretty gross.

I’m pretty sure people were making more than my personal best, $70 in one day, but they’re of some athletic/autistic something-or-other life form to be that focussed for that long doing the exact same thing 10 times a minute for hours, days, months, I just couldn’t do it, so, since I was heading home soon to play a music festival in Saskatchewan, I put the word out that I had room for cherries, and loaded up my 1993 Toyota Pickup named Simba and headed home… Didn’t make very much money, but ripping with Simba through the Rockies was a ruckus good time. So I did it again.

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Go Simba Go. #skbound #prayersforsimba

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Went back to BC after the festival (Which was great by the way, Sparky & The Plugs put on a “Day on the Farm” at Seeger Wheeler farms. Windy day, but good fun) and placed another offer for BC fruit delivered to Saskatchewan, this time I had a rough estimate of how many boxes I could fit. So i went picking Fruit for a little while longer, Simba parked in the orchard, earning enough daily cash to pay for a few quick repairs… and before long we were heading back to Saskatchewan. Me, my 1/4 Tonne Truck, and HALF a tonne of fruit. It’s a proud Truck-Owners moment. That little truck has done so much for me, been so reliable… Hauling twice her limit, up and down the Rocky Mountains and bookin’ er across the prairies, (non stop as it wasn’t refrigerated). And we weren’t done there. After making a fair profit (nothing special but enough to be worth it) I headed back to BC, picked up my travel companion, and we took off to find the forest fires of the summer.

Did you See the forest fires up close?

Not really, we were within a few miles of some, the smoke was thick and it rained ash sometimes. But the free camping spots were relatively vacant. Now this is up in the Quesnel, Williams Lake, Prince George areas (Pretty much a drive to check some new places off the map, that, and we were right sick of Picking fruit for a while). 

We came across another piece work operation. Accidentally, at night. When we woke up at this place marked as a free camp site in Northern BC, there was a group of maybe 15-20 folks and a Leader… He had the same drive as the boss from Tree Planting, he said they had just finished Morel Mushroom picking for the year.

How was it? I asked

He said it was an exceptional year… Not one of his pickers were earning less than $800 in a day… but he said most years aren’t like that. I would have been enticed a little more at some other point, but I’m all “Pay per Pick’d” out at the moment… Took his contact information anyway… 

Once they left this old feller drives up in his old Dodge pickup. We’re just sitting around, drinking coffee and reading, (as we had done all trip long, in different forests, beside different body’s of water)

The Orchards of Oliver, BC

 

How you folks doin?

‘Good’ I replied

‘You know I own the rights to the gold in that river, right?’

‘No, I didn’t even know there WAS gold in that river’

‘well there is. And it’s mine’

Alright.

He drove off, and I got curious. Turns out we were in the heart of gold mining operations, and the equipment we’d seen around began to make sense. Back Hoe’s, Tractors, Sluices… we were in the heart of the industry baby. We drove out to Barkerville, a historic gold mine town that has been redone for tourism. We didn’t go in though, realized it cost money.

Right around that time, Dad called and said Harvest 2018 was a day or two away. So we turned around and headed East. It was time. I had gone from November 2017, to the end of August 2018 without a real Job, driving Simba from Belize, South of Mexico, to Prince George BC zigzagging the whole way, and I was beginning to lose my ongoing battle with the Credit Card Balance. It had been a good summer. 

I put in one week of Harvest, then ripped back to Drumheller to see some favourites of mine, Corb Lund, & Ian Tyson at the Badlands Amphitheatre. It was on that trip that Simba finally kicked the bucket. He made it home alright, drizzling out oil and refusing to stay running… He’d already gone through one Engine replacement, but he was needing a little more than just that this time around. RIP Simba. I’ll post a tribute to you soon.

What Else?

Hell I almost drove a little further that summer, let me explain.
The first time I heard the news that they were tearing something down that honoured Canada’s first Prime Minister John A. MacDonald, I was working in the fruit truck. I believe they were changing the name of a building out in Ontario, whatever it was MacDonald bashing was just becoming a thing. That irked me so much, I pondered telling the boss I needed time off to rip out there and voice my opinion! Well that was just the Fruit Truck Crazies taking their hold and I got over it.

Fast forward almost a year, I was in Kelowna BC when I’d caught wind they’re now tearing down a statue outside a government building in Victoria… Again I filled with steam over the very idea of ripping down a monument of one of the key figures responsible for giving us the very freedom we’re expressing by TEARING HIS STATUE DOWN!

I couldn’t get over this one, but I also couldn’t think fast enough. By the time I googled to see what day they were doing it, the day had passed so we took off to North BC instead… I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. Chain myself to the statue, and go on hunger strike I suppose… we’ll see what happens next time the issue arises but I hope it won’t. Sometimes I get so politically charged I feel like blogging til dawn about it… But I guess tonights not the night. I’ll give you a heads up. I’ll colour code the post and label them “Jolie Red&White”

I’ve since bought a Honda Civic, loving the gas mileage… perhaps I’ll tag along in the upcoming Convoy to Ottawa? I’ve got an itch that needs scratching.

But that’s all for now.

But What’s Next for you Jolie Blue?

I’m going on Tour with Former LPB Frontman Tom Pearson!

Much Love my friends.