He is adjusting, but I can tell it's a little difficult. He is used to the frantic pace of summer, or the shoulder seasons, when we still have crewmembers around to supervise and a finite amount of time to get things done. He still attacks projects immediately, which means he is now stuck with the less interesting tasks, such as the dreaded "updating employee folders" and "required online training."
We had a slow fire season this year, followed by a slow fall. It doesn't always happen this way: often, the seasonals depart while we are still cleaning gear, maintaining trucks, and even fighting fire. Sometimes temporary hiring starts in November, with its accompanying challenges of tracking down applicants and persuading them to decide what they want to do six months from now.
Not this year. There isn't even enough snow to shovel. Instead, we start on aerial ignition plans that we wouldn't normally tackle until at least January. The hotshots puzzle how to transform one of their buggies into a reindeer for a city parade. J. buys a red plastic bucket for the nose, and then agonizes that it's too small. "Come look at it," he says. "Does it look stupid? It looks stupid!" I reassure him that it doesn't, while S. regrets that he has committed to making some antlers. They ponder the wisdom of driving the buggy, covered in brown paper, through the notoriously windy canyon on the way to town.
A stream of job applicants show up at our offices, hoping for a seasonal position next summer. They leave either encouraged or with their hopes and dreams crushed, depending on the supervisor. The smart ones start building a plan to eventually land a job, while the less intelligent ones do things like call our cell phones on Saturday. Not having our lists till January, we can't tell them much, but we appreciate their earnestness.
I'm all right with the lull. We don't get a lot of them. Some years there are fire assignments all year round, a plethora of workshops, classes to take and teach. January will be busy, with seasonal and permanent hiring happening at the same time. Managers, energized by holiday time off, will fill the calendar with meetings. Even my minion, eyeing the snowline on the ski hill, is starting to get used to it.
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