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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Innie or Outie? The Career Location Decision

Innie or Outie? The Career Location Decision
Ninety-eight degrees again today. Hardly a skitch of shade. Respirators strapped to our faces, full body white paper suits, we work the Baraboo prairie like it’s the surface of Mars. Some call it the Huber crew: guys on jail release to work days removing asbestos. We call it ‘stos, as in, “you breathe a cloud of that ‘stos and you’ll die in the fetal position in thirty years.”

Not all outside work is so intense. Are you an innie or an outie?


Five great questions of life: Life * Love * Learning * Labor * Leadership

Labor: How Will I Make a Living?

Innie or Outie? The Career Location Decision

By Evan Nehring


The career decision includes whether you want to work inside or outside. I've had experience with both. Here's an outie episode that started a bit rough for me.

Ninety-eight degrees again today. Hardly a skitch of shade. Respirators strapped to our faces, full body white paper suits, we work the Baraboo prairie like it’s the surface of Mars. Some call it the Huber crew: guys on jail release to work days removing asbestos. We call it ‘stos, as in, “you breathe a cloud of that ‘stos and you’ll die in the fetal position in thirty years.”

It’s a government contract to dismantle the Badger Army Ammunition Plant. During World War II it was the largest ammunition plant in the world. Now it is being repurposed for civilian use. Mile after mile of pipe, fittings packed with the white stuff, the asbestos.

I’m wearing the meter today. It’s a battery-powered belt pack with a hose attached over my shoulder near my breathing zone. An independent contractor chooses a new worker each day to wear the meter and take measurements of the asbestos fiber content near our respirators.

Photo Credit: Ktorbeck on Wikimedia Commons

My group has an ornery chief. He’s a chain smoker but no cigarettes or lighters are allowed on the compound. There’s a wooden box by the gate where they can be left and picked up at lunch. He’s irritated. Chief and his pals are extra rough in how they’re talking to me until I finally grab my tools and head off to work alone. At the end of the day I tell the manager no one should have to work with that sort of abuse. The next morning, euphoria. Chief is gone, canned. It was the last straw.
Evan, Chief is no longer with the company. This is your crew now.
How did I get here?

After I returned to college for my music degree, Colleen and I were married and I needed to find a way to support our new family. I started part time as a church music director right after the honeymoon and I worked with the asbestos crew that summer to try to help out with the budget.

I knew quickly that I wasn't destined for a blue collar career. I remember a young man, though, who had a nice new pickup truck down in Baraboo. The manager said, “Hey Jack, can we rent your truck and have you use it for hauling?” Score! Jack got to ride around in air conditioning all day picking up loads at each site and hauling back to the dumping area. Easy work and extra pay. Perhaps he knew quickly that he was destined for a blue collar career!

There were parts of manual labor I liked: working hard, sweating, and seeing the physical results of your labor. And on those ninety-eight degree days, we took turns in the cold decontamination shower before hitting the highway home. Few things feel better than hitting the interstate with the windows down after slaving in the sun all day. 

We'll talk more about the career location decision. But what about it? Are you an innie or an outie?

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