Senior Editor
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The Inertia

Excavators are awesome machines. When I was 21, I went to work in the oil patch in Northern British Columbia. The very first job I managed to get was as a swamper with a guy who ran one. Scott was a total drunk–a really nice guy, but a total and complete drunk. Each morning, I’d stand outside at -30°C waiting for him to pick me up. Inevitably, he’d show up around 4:30 trashed, waving one arm out the window, smoking a cigarette, either with an hour or two of sleep or none at all. I still don’t know how he stayed alive.

My second day at work, he told me to get in the excavator and “figure it out.” I did. In an empty, snow-covered field, I drove while spinning the cab as fast as I could. Bob Seger was playing, and Scott sat in the truck with his vodka and coffee. The third day on the job, he put me in the bucket, closed the thumb over me, and lifted me up. Then he gave me a wobbly smile and spun me around for way too long… totally illegal in a work situation, but it was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done at work. When we were driving home later on that evening, I asked him if we could tie up a tow rope and whip around on a snowboard on it. Scott thoughtfully took a sip of beer, glanced in the rearview mirror to check for cops, and, without a trace of irony, told me that it would be too dangerous. Lucky for these guys, they managed to get their hands on an excavator and a few wakeboards. I wouldn’t be surprised if Scott had something to do with this–but he’s probably still pounding vodka and digging holes somewhere in a snowy, cold field in B.C.

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