A Summer in Kentucky (pt. 2): Week 1 at Work

Honestly, I think the documentation for this summer will be much less exciting from now on as my life has kinda gotten into a rhythm. But I think this summer will still hold some interesting surprises as the days and weeks pass.

Work: Overall, it was a good first week.

Some of the best things in life are the things you get for free.

When I arrived at my plant on the first day, I was greeted by my own personalized FRCs (fire retardant clothing). These clothes made for a nice first impression of the company (apparently, I have a care package on the way as well). Might I add that I was able to open up a new computer, monitor, keyboard and mouse for the summer?

The first few days consisted of typical first week things: meeting everyone, getting safety trained, touring the facility, learning the chemistry/process, filling out paperwork, getting my badge, and setting up passwords/accounts.

I came to the plant at a pretty good time. At the plant, the workers are getting trained to do various operations, so by the end of summer, I’ll have a lot of training under my belt. On Tuesday, I learned how to operate a Bobcat Toolcat (so I’m ready if anyone ever needs this safely operated).

Although I have not formally gotten a project yet, I’ve learned a lot. One whole day was dedicated to getting trained to use the Toolcat, and the better portion of two days was spent replacing an analyzer (to measure the concentration of oxygen in a nitrogen product stream — the primary one went down, so the plant was operating on a back up/redundant one).

I interact with roughly 7 guys on a daily basis, and I’ve enjoyed working with each of them. They’re always willing to explain things to me while they are working, and I feel like they want to help me learn. I suppose that could be a benefit from being the only intern and at a small location with a good team. The plant manager told me that this team is like a family: they probably spend more time together as a team than they do with their families. After one week, I can definitely attest to that statement, and I like it.

The biggest downside to work (and not even directly related to work) so far has been trying to sleep the night before. It’s hard to adjust to the 40 hour work week lifestyle. And it doesn’t help that there is a baby that cries literally every week night right around 11 PM. It’s like clockwork. I don’t understand what goes on downstairs (I think) at that time.

Culture Shock: Hasn’t really affected too much me (yet).

Of course, there are a myriad of differences between the life here and life in Houston or Austin, but so far, I’ve enjoyed the change. Beyond the great nature scene, there are two things that came across my mind this week to attempt to illustrate life here.

  1. There are a few parallels between life here and the movie, Cars (please humor me for a few seconds, I know there are a lot of differences too). This town is pretty small, and I’m not too sure how interested I was in coming here at first. I think what made me think of Cars the most, though, was that the first week that I was here, they were doing construction on the main road. Maybe I’ll come to love this town like McQueen did by the end of his stay (not to say I hate it because I don’t).
The aftermath of a pileated woodpecker. If I’m reading the tape measure right, the hole is roughly 27 inches high. (Image taken from Google)

2. A conversation at work I was unable to partake in because I could not relate whatsoever. Around the lunch table, my coworkers were talking about animals they’ve seen around, like in every day life. One guy was talking about how he saw a pileated woodpecker like 18 inches tall in his back yard. Another talked about how an elk walked around his, and another guy mentioned how he saw a bald eagle a few times on the road. I was sitting there thinking, “I’ve seen a cat and a dog. Fish if those count too.” Needless to say, my life experiences are much different compared to theirs.

Free time? Aren’t you bored?

The short answer is: nope, I’m not bored (at least not yet). As I said before, I’m in the process of training for a triathlon, so most of my time outside of work is dedicated to that: I went to the YMCA to swim four times this week after work, I spent today biking and swimming, and I’m running a little here and there.

Evenings are a pretty quiet, but I’ve spent some time chatting and catching up with some friends, so that’s been productive too. I brought some books to read as well. I haven’t been able to read them just yet, but I know I’ll have some time throughout the rest of summer.

I also started going to a small church down the street. The people were extremely nice, and I’m planning to attend for the rest of the summer. Today, I met two guys my age (hooray), and they happen to live in the same apartment complex. They’re also interns, so I have some friends now! I think we’re planning to go to a NASCAR race in July because ¿por qué no? It’s part of the culture here, and it’s literally like 5 miles away from where I’m staying.

I’m happy I’m here and looking forward to the rest of summer!