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Writeup of working for fish processing plant in Alaska

  1. iamwhatiam

    iamwhatiam beach bum
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    So I thought I would write (with some pictures included) about my experience working for a fish processing plant in Southeast Alaska this summer, seeing as how there seems to be a fair amount of people interested in maybe doing this kind of work. Hopefully this semi-indepth review will give a better idea as to what to expect before you commit to working a season up there. Sorry if this is too long and drawn out, but whatever....you can skim thru if you like.

    I worked for Silver Bay Seafoods out of Sitka this summer. For the hiring process, they showed a short video/speech of what to expect to a group of applicants. Then one by one, we were called up for a very short inteview where we were asked a few very easy questions....."Are you able to stand for up to 16 hours a day?"..."Have you ever done this type of work before?".... "Why do you want to work for this company?"..etc. Very informal and the whole interview only lasted a few minutes. Then you are told that if your background check comes back okay, they will give you a call back in a week or two. I have LOTS of trespassing/drinking in public/etc. charges on my record from back in the day when I was full time traveling, so when the HR guy called me asking about my record I simply explained that I was homeless for a while and made some bad choices and just wanted to get back on my feet. blah blah blah. He seemed to be satisfied with the answer I gave him and a few days later emailed me my itinerary. The company pays for your flight from Seattle to wherever you are going in AK and if you complete the season without quitting or getting fired, you are not required to reimburse them the money for that ticket or the return ticket to Seattle at the end of the season.

    Flew into Sitka June 13th whereupon two busses were waiting at the airport to usher everyone out to the plant. This plant is 5-6 miles from downtown (no stores anywhere nearby) which I thought was a good thing because it made it a little harder for me to get in to town and spend all my money on beer, etc. There were busses for $2 one way to town running Mon-Fri or you could hitchhike or spend 20 bucks one way on a cab ride to town. roadtoplant.
    Road to Plant
    plantviewfromabove.
    View of plant from hillside above
    For the first week there was absolutely no work which was good because it gave us time to explore town or go on a nearby hike.
    3.
    Hike to a lake that passes this amazing waterfall

    2.
    Person in red circle for scale
    But after a few days it honestly started to feel a little like jail cause you're stuck there at the plant, waiting for word of work, with not a whole lot to do and living in a small room with 4 other guys. This was my room...

    room.
    They charged $10/day for room and board (ONLY for days you work on) at this location (not reimbursed at end of season). And here is a view of the bunkhouses.

    1.
    There was a TV room but the WIFI on site was complete shit...you're lucky to get any decent internet connection most of the time and everyone made damn sure to bitch and complain all season long about it amongst each other. Each bunkhouse had 2 floors with maybe 10 rooms per floor and 4 or 5 people to a room, with a laundry room and bathroom on each floor.

    bathroom.
    After attending an orientation where you get shown a tour of the plant and get to meet the supervisors in the different departments, you can signup for which department you'd LIKE to work in....altho not guaranteed a spot there. We were given boots and raingear and checked the board in the morning for our assigned departments and start times.

    factoryview.
    A view of one of the departments
    Three meals a day and the food was pretty good and a lot of variety to choose from. Breakfast always consisted of scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage, french toast, biscuits, gravy, hashbrowns or potatoes, fruit bar, oatmeal, cereal, granola, bagels, milk or orange juice. Lunch and Dinner was different each day - usually consisting of a couple different kinds of meat entrees or fish, some canned or steamed veggies, a couple different rice and/or pasta dishes, etc.....and always a small salad bar. My favorite dishes were these Chicken cordon bleu things and the meat lasagna. Once a week they would also have a taco/burrito night with all the fixins and a grilled steak/barbecued chicken night with ice cream for dessert.
    foodline.
    Mess hall
    There were vending machines on site for when you need those late night munchies or to chug an energy drink on break. They served little finger foods and/or soup on breaks, sometimes pizza or pizza sticks and always some kind of doughnuts, pastries, scones, or cookies. Coffee, water, fruit punch, purple drank, tea to drink. I was pretty impressed with the amount of food they pumped out each day.

    This season was very slow....not the biggest salmon run and it ended early. I got laid off August 14, when the season normally stays pretty strong on into September. There were only 2 or 3 weeks where we were working 16 hour days nearly every day.
    hours.
    A sampling of hours worked

    In the end, I only made around 5k after taxes. As far as fish processing plants go, this company is pretty good to work for (at least the plant out of Sitka). Although this is only the second processing company I've worked for so I don't have much to compare it to. Some things I didn't like - Sometimes while waiting for boats to come in they'd keep you on site, having you keep checking in every few hours. So basically you're stuck there and can't go in to town or anything. Also, all the loud inconsiderate columbian/mexican fuckers that for some reason have to yell at each other when they talk....even though they are standing a foot away from one another. I got woken from my sleep numerous times even tho they were down the hallway and I was in my room WITH earplugs in. Also, for some reason most people don't know how to quietly shut doors. So if you are a light sleeper like me, be prepared to not get decent sleep from the constant slamming of doors. This does not make for a fun time at work, when you are going on just 5 hours of interrupted sleep a night. Also, be prepared for a lot of drama and stupid gossip and people that don't clean up after themselves. Aside from all the stupid shit you have to deal with, it's an okay experience if you can tough it out....altho, I don't think I'll be work fish processing for awhile if at all anymore. I'd rather do some other kind of seasonal work like farmwork.
    So, Im probably forgetting some things and I was gonna write more, but I'm tired of writing so I will wrap this up with some other pics.
    kingsalmon.
    King Salmon. We got quite a few 40-50 pounders this year

    waitingforboat.
    Havin a beer while we wait for the next boats to come in

    oceanviewfireweed.

    panoramicview.


    nets.
    netsview1.
    netsview2.
    blackies.
    brownies.
    ketchikanviewfromair.
    View of Ketchikan in background, leaving AK
    insidepassagewilderness.
    Beautiful Inside Passage Wilderness
     
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  2. Kim Chee

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    Excellent thread, very informative!

    Congratulations on sticking it out and fulfilling your end of the agreement.
     
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  3. Tude

    Tude Sometimes traveler is traveling.
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    Awesome write up and yes there have been several people inquiring about working the fishing industry in Alaska which is why I'm going to put a resources ref on this - may come back and put an alaska ref on it as well. :) thanks!
     
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  4. Dmac

    Dmac Completely Addicted

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    Thanks, I enjoyed the description and found it useful too.
     
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  5. Matt Derrick

    Matt Derrick StP Founder, Admin, and travel addict
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    first, let me say that is really awesome man. super informative and very useful. so few people get back to us with this level of detail so thank you for taking the time to document, take pictures, and write out this post! I'm definitely adding this to our featured threads section.

    if you don't mind taking the time to answer a few questions, i'm really curious about a few things:
    1. how difficult was the work?
    2. what exactly was your job?
    3. was it really gross working with fish?
    4. what's up with that net you're lying in?
    5. and the bears??
    6. did anyone you know go with you?
    7. was there anyone cool to hang out with? i see there's someone with you in that pic of the boats.
     
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  6. Raging Bird

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    God, this would be such an amazing way to escape New Orleans for two months.
     
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  7. OP
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    iamwhatiam

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    For sure!!

    1) The work itself is not that difficult....for most jobs, they could almost train a chimp to do it. But your back and neck will get real sore from the constant repetitive motions and your feet will ache from standing all day. For my specific job, the muscles between by thumb and forefinger also got pretty sore and stayed sore for most of the season. But I developed a killer grip! ;) I went through A LOT of ibuprofen/aspirin. The more difficult thing about the work was the mental aspect of it I think.

    2) I was chosen, for my main job, to help sort the different species of salmon into their respective tanks as they got pumped off the boats and spit onto a fast moving conveyor belt. You had to be super quick and be able to tell a sockeye from a chum in a split second and throw it in the right tank...maybe throwing a couple hundred fish or more in the air, per minute during a fast sort. On our busiest days we'd sort 1 million + pounds of salmon, between maybe 6-10 guys. But I would also help out in several other departments where help was needed on slower days, in between waiting for boats to arrive and unload.

    3) It really wasn't that gross - tho being hungover and having a fish's sperm sack bust open all over you, almost made me gag a few times (and I've been around a lot of sperm)....though you're asking someone who's slept under many a filthy bridge and in many a trashed abandoned house, or waist deep in a dumpster. You probably will get covered in guts and blood, etc. and occasionally you will get it in your mouth/eyes and find fish scales in places you didn't think you'd find em. All part of the game.

    4) That is a huge net some local kids suspended up in the trees. I remembered there being these nets suspended up in the trees when I last visited Sitka around 15 years ago, but I think this current location is fairly new. This place is known as "The Nets" and comes with a beautiful view, fire pit, and rope swing into the ocean. It's only about a mile walk down the road from the plant and then you follow a foot trail through the woods down to the water's edge.

    5) Just down the road from the plant around the corner is a bear sanctuary where they have several bears you can view from lookouts. Because the plant donates fish heads to them, all plant workers can get in free. Also a lot of eagles waiting up in the trees around the perimeter (if the trainers throw the fish heads too far from the bears, the eagles will swoop down and snatch em up).

    6) No one went with me, but I did run into an old friend I know from Ketchikan that I hadn't seen in a couple years. I had just walked into the cafeteria one day and there was this guy sitting there who looked up and we instantly recognized each other. Turns out he had hitchhiked from Ketchikan to Sitka on one of the company's commercial fishing boats and was in Sitka trying to track down a boat that had promised him a job. The boat ride had taken a couple days and he had offered to cook for the crew in exchange for a ride up. We hung out one night - went for a long walk in the woods in the late afternoon and ended up losing the trail and getting lost in the woods. Realizing we had brought no flashlight and trying to make our way through very steep terrain all around in the dark, we decided it best to hunker down for the night and spent the evening huddled around a fire under an overhanging rock ledge in the rain playing songs on guitar. That was a rough night and an even rougher 16 hr shift I had to work the following morning! FUCK!!!!!!

    7) Well, I am a loner by nature so I tend to keep to myself a lot...but it probably didn't help my social status that I layed the foundation for my reputation early on in the season by embarrassing myself at a bar one Friday night......so I got black out drunk and decided to rub up on and hump the leg of one of the higher-ups in front of everyone there...big deal..(he was also drunk and didn't remember anything until everyone reminded him the next morning..then he was a little pissed). But that kind of shit stays with you and you're labeled as "that crazy drunk guy". Whatever...... But there were some cool mofos who worked there. A lot of college kids and foreigners but most everyone smokes pot and drinks and likes to party. There was a scandal halfway thru the season where a bunch of people at a party got snitched on and got fired after their drug test came back poz for coke
     
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    #7 iamwhatiam, Sep 2, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2016
  8. ficklepicker

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    what a nice writeup, thanks for sharing. i am reminded of a job i once had for a few months while in community college, catching & releasing salmon smolts as part of a migration study. what a depressing study it was... if i remember correctly something like only 50 or so tracked salmon had returned to the river from the previous year to breed...in years before it had been in the thousands...definitely left an impression on me, to say the least.
     
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  9. atlastalias

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    They gave you purple drank like DJ Screw?
     
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  10. nivoldoog

    nivoldoog I've been muted for 30 days.
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    Great article I hope to do this soon
     
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  11. ancienttoes

    ancienttoes is getting to know the place

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    i liked reading it. i am not the fastest worker. it would be a cool way. that's a long time to work. 16 hrs in a row. i have worked 12 hour shifts before. there's a cool place in alaska that's like a primitive community. http://forums.feralculture.com/ thats the website for it. i contacted a fisherman on a fishing boat in alaska before. i rotate between working and not working before also. i acted out a legend of the salmonboy when i was a camp couselor in a skit one time. thanks for sharing.
     
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  12. Richard174391

    Richard174391 Hungry for Knowledge

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    I worked at a processing plant for a lil while. Not the most glorious or reliable but its not bad at all.
     
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  13. yellowbrickfreeway

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    Bad ass write up! I did the cannery thing this year too! I was at Alaska General Seafoods though. A lot of what you said was similar to our place.

    We also had no work in the beginning, probably for a week and a half. your area was much prettier though, those photos are gorgeous! Im seriously a little jealous of your location vs ours ha. Our cannery was in Naknek, which is a very small town and not really much to look at as far as Alaska goes. Basically had one pretty bad grocery store, two liquor stores and a post office. there wasn't much to explore, the farthest you could get was about a 40 minute walk to the end of town which was the beach area, and we also had a random fire pit area that people liked to party at. It was all pretty flat though, not really any mountains, nothing really that exciting.

    During that week of no work, a lot of partying and craziness went down, but i noticed that after about 5 days, everyone started getting nervous and aggressive about not having work yet. i went out there already knowing it was going to take about a week (from friends who've done it, plus i worked on a fishing boat the previous year and it was about the same thing, waiting around to hear if we could finally start or not). this led to a lot of fist fighting and inevitably led to a lot of kids getting sent home. Some also getting sent home for being too visibly intoxicated.

    The other cannery closest to us didn't allow the workers to leave the cannery grounds, but luckily for us we could come and go as we pleased. (kids still snuck out of the other cannery, which is how we heard about all this, but they were at risk of getting sent home if they got busted).

    Our bunks varied, you either got a bunk room with a bunch of people like you did, or you got two person rooms. I came out there with a friend but regardless of that you can't choose your room mate, but I was lucky enough to get one I got along with. A lot of kids got stuck with bad room mates, some to a pretty awful degree.

    Most everyone was nice enough, some awful, some tolerable and some really awesome people. Theft was definitely a thing, especially with mail, because in the beginning all the delivered mail was just dumped as a free for all in the mess hall, which fucking sucked, and eventually they finally made it so you had to pick it up from the office when it arrived (why they didn't do that in the first place is beyond me).

    We also didn't get charged for room and board at AGS which is sweet, the other one's near us also charged.

    ALSO during that whole week without work in the beginning, it only took probably 3 days before the ENTIRE CANNERY was sick as fuck. everyone got this pretty terrible cold really fast and it lasted almost the entire time. I don't think most of us felt better at all until like the last week of work. And some people caught it, got better, and then caught it a SECOND time.

    The wifi and cable was useless for us also, but turned out people who had verizon phone services had service out there so you could still borrow phones to make calls if you needed.

    We didn't get to sign up for what job we wanted, you pretty much just randomly got assigned somewhere and either that's where you stayed or you got moved around until you fit best. UNLESS you were a native Alaskan or a Filipino, no matter what they ALWAYS had to work the slime line, which was kinda fucked, there were even some kids who got mistaken to look Filipino who got stuck on the slime line. A lot of jobs in the end got assigned in kinda racist and sexist manners.

    I was lucky enough to have previously known someone who had worked at the place a few times before, so he got me an in with the warehouse job which did all of the packaging -- we received everything at the end and packed it all up. We were the first to start working and the last to leave. the job was fine though, it was all easy, some tasks sucked more than others but instead of the other areas where you did the exact same thing for 18 hours a day, our bosses switched us around every break, so you and a partner (which they would assign you based on if you were already friends or if you got along a bunch which was cool) and you would either be running a machine, shoving cans over to it, pushing heavy carts around or "strapping" (putting the boxes on the stacked cans and strapping em up. The fact that we switched jobs every 3 hours was goddamn life saver.

    Our boss it sounded like would've hired us in there anyway, he was an old school punker and I guess always goes out of his way to noticed the punks or traveler kids that show up every year and he tries to get them in the warehouse to work with him. He was also super chill about trying to make sure you made as much money as possible -- if you wanted to make more money, even if there was no work to be done, he would tell the boss man they had a lot to do and then we all just got paid to "clean" which was really you just wandering around with a rag and pretending to do something but actually just goofing off. He also occasionally shared booze and smokes with you if you all worked well enough, which was cool as fuck.

    He actually even allowed all of us at one point to hide around the warehouse and sleep for the first 3 hours of the shift while on the clock, because he knew we were all exhausted, and we still had to wait for a bunch of shit but he wanted us all to still be able to make money.

    Everything was assigned into shifts. A shift, B shift and C shift. My shift generally went from noon to 6am, but sometimes ran until 7am. so that's 18-19 hours a day during the peak. In the beginning they were only 8 hour shifts, then 12, then around 18-19. Most people with my same shift started at 2pm during the peak, but if the boss man thought you were a hard worker, he would offer you to come in hours earlier (you didn't have to, but we did, which I was happy about in the end because of money but it was very apparent in the beginning that I much would've rather had those hours to sleep). I think C shift was something like midnight until 3pm and I don't remember A shift but I remember that really A and C shift had less hours in the end than B shift did.

    The food was about the same, I was actually shocked with the amount of variety in the beginning. Slowly as the season got closer to an end though it was pretty much just salmon all day every day or american cheese grilled cheeses. The beginning was awesome though, but I kinda also noticed that mostly the traveler kids were impressed but a lot of other kids thought it sucked. I dunno, I expected it to be like jail food but it really exceeded my expectations and the cooks were super chill.

    The cooks actually got paid the most and worked the most hours of everyone, which is kinda good to know.

    We didn't have vending machines, but we also had break food in between all the meals, (breaks were 15 mins) but the break food was pretty much always just sweets. It was like, doughnuts and maple bars (people would fight to the death over maple bars, idk why, they were kinda gnarly to me) and cake and SO MANY COOKIES. Which was really fucked up actually because during the peak of everything, we generally worked through the actual meal times, and actually had to survive off break room food. So you are literally just spiking and crashing in sugar ALL THE TIME, so the mood swings were absolutely insane, and then you actually started getting addicted to sweets in this fucked up way, so you lived from break to break (still only 15 mins at a time) which you got to see your friends from other work areas in the time who also looked and felt like shit.

    The warehouse seemed to actually be the only section that had this problem though, I think because we were the last to receive things so we always had to bust ass and work through all the breaks just to catch up?? So not every area got stuck living off of cookies.

    For these reasons though, people were stealing certain food items from the mess hall and selling them. Which I found both hilarious and awful. Sometimes we had friends from other areas sneak us out food and bring it to us in the break room, but it was sometimes hard to communicate to the other areas when you didn't always see them and couldn't contact them via phone.

    We occasionally also got pizza, which was like, the best possible thing in the world during those times. And we also always had coffee, hot chocolate, lipton tea and some kinda nasty kool aid shit.

    For being sick during this entire time, there was a major lack of anything that could help you out with that, which was unfortunate. You were sometimes able to get tea that was better for you (green) over at this church run organization down the road, but that's only if you had time. Sometimes they would put out real grapefruits and oranges and bananas in the mess hall during breakfast hours, but if you weren't the first people in there they were always already snatched up, and since my shift ended right when breakfast started, I sure as FUCK wasn't going to breakfast, I was going the fuck to sleep.

    Some fucked up shit kinda went down at one point though. After a certain amount of time, EVERYONE was getting constant nosebleeds. And everyone was also complaining that there was black mold in the bunk houses. AGS definitely kept trying to say it was just dirt, and just kept brushing it off. I dunno really if that was the cause of all the nosebleeds but it was pretty fucking alarming that it was happening to everyone so much. They finally had people come down to check the place out due to kids complaining so much, (which was after of course they FINALLY cleaned off the "dirt") and they conveniently showed up and were brought directly to the break room, which was conveniently the FIRST TIME pizza ever showed up. So pictures were taken of AGS and it's conditions while starving cookie surviving kids were just so fucking happy to see pizza they could've cried, which a lot of kids didn't notice about but a bunch of us were pissed. "Everythings fine! Look how happy they are! LOOK!!!!!!!"

    Meh. And as far as injuries and shit went, after the first week of a lot less sleep it was very noticeable how many kids kept appearing with casts or limps or broken bones or other weird shit. As far as the warehouse went, we had three machines running at all times, and all of the machines were potentially dangerous if you weren't careful (sometimes hard to do when you're head's foggy from sleep deprivation and illness) but only TWO of the three had safety sensor bumpers on them. If you got hit with one, it would stop the machine.

    But the fastest, most intense machine (machine #3.... evil ass machine number three) didn't have those. One girl running the machine got slammed by it (someone jumped up with the emergency button to stop it), and she had bruised ribs from it. Another kid got actually trapped by it and it was lowering on him and someone stopped the machine but not as in time, he got pinned in a way that one of the small bars impaled him, and if it had continued to lower down like it was, it would've paralyzed him the way he was stuck. He was ok in the end, had to get stitches. A kid the year before that got his ear ripped off, and a couple people got their hands crushed.

    I didn't run the machines often, I usually did most of the partner shit, but the few times I did work on machine 3, no matter how careful you are you just are so tired (it's the only job in the warehouse where you aren't constantly moving to stay awake) that I definitely almost crushed my hand a few times and almost got smacked in the head by the damn thing. Meh.

    There was a lot of drama and silly gossip at our place too, but we all kinda made the best of it and thought it was hilarious in the end. Also the best game we pretty much all had was who could keep coming up with the best rumors to spread around, and see how long it got back to you. Never really about other people but just about the cannery work itself or the amount of fish coming in what have you.

    The people rumors were all pretty typical. Lots of girls got rumored to be pregnant (most girls really, just cuz their weren't many girls even there), there were a couple false rape accusations because of fights which got pretty shitty (but eventually resolved), lots of drama in general just because there was a lot of sleeping around going on before we all actually got work. The traveler kids all got pinned at first as like drug addict runaways and thief which kinda sucked for a minute but also got resolved pretty fast. There was an early period where every time something went missing, other cannery kids blamed the group of us (we all always stuck together obviously. when any new ones arrived, you knew too because they entered the mess hall and immediately scanned the place and b-lined to our table) -- but in the end that rumor got shut down pretty quick because we all had probably the biggest issue with thieving people in general. A couple of the boys discovered which person stole "so and so's" package, and when the kid couldn't get the office to do anything about it and get his package back, the boys took it into their own hands, busted the lock on thief's room and took it back themselves. After that not many people questioned whether we were trustworthy people or not.

    Obviously most of us were still often talked about and considered the spectacle though. A couple boys were doing some pretty hilarious shit in exchange for alcohol. All the creative ways worked out in the end though ha. It wasn't hard. I'm still waiting for there to be a ridiculous amount of youtube videos posted after how many people were always filming everything.

    All in all, the work itself was fucking CAKE. The lack of sleep was difficult but I had already prepared for that because of previously working on a fishing boat which was less sleep and much harder work. BUT honestly being sick the entire time working those hours, that was really what got to me. It made it so unbelievably hard because you were just weak and out of breath and feverish (temperature fluctuation... ugh) on top of getting barely any sleep and your diet was just poor.

    Also I'd like to make a shout out because in the end, all the traveling punx worked harder and faster through all this bullshit than anyone else with little complaints. SO MANY KIDS quit and went home, and SO MANY kids didn't show up because they "didn't feel good" or cried and whined always about everything. The best part about that was that we were all the one's that a lot of the areas in the cannery didn't want to hire because the way some of us looked -- especially one friend that we made who was covered in tattoos (and face tattoos) and was super rowdy. No one wanted to hire him especially but then when he got hired in the freezer, he essentially never took the breaks everyone else took, kept working, busted ass the whole time and ended up becoming one of the fucking LEADS his first ever year. And not only was he sick as fuck, but he was going through a break up and had some of the gnarliest boot rot I've seen in a while. It was pretty cool to see the underdogs blow everyone outta the water, when all these burly straight laced dudes couldn't hack it.

    Really, if there was ever a time I wasn't doing fuck all else during that time, I would definitely do it again. I made a lot of awesome new friends who I stay in touch with, my boss and shift leads were awesome, and it really wasn't a big deal. This time now I know more about what I should really bring (LOTS of vitamin c and illness prevention shit, nice tea, CANDY -- holy shit, you guys, candy and smokes became like currency out there, it was SO fucking valuable and trading was definitely a thing, etc, anything to make life a little nicer in small ways really matters.) Also bringing some cartons of smokes and selling them for a little bit less than the stores would be legit, same with snacks and booze. You could make a killing on the side if you wanted to with how many kids needed that shit.

    And if you don't know already, Alaska is expensive as fuck, so if you drink, bring booze, if you smoke, bring at least 2 cartons of cigarettes. I'm a huge drinker but honestly even though I went out there with no money at all and couldn't buy booze anyway (you'll still end up drinking, even if you're broke, trust me), during those hours, drinking will seriously hurt you. Drinking in the first week and in the last bit when it slows down is fine but you'll find out real fast that drinking in the middle of it is a bad idea. You just won't last. Snipes were easy enough to find if you needed them though, because everyone out there smokes but really the only people who ever went through the ashtray buckets were the other traveler kids, there wasn't that much competition.

    I definitely am trying to work on a tender ship next year though. Working on the water is where it's really at. I love it. Fishing was an incredible (and insanely difficult) experience but I want to try the tender ships since the pay is much more reliable and predictable.

    At the end of it all, they kind of just put random lists up of who is leaving and when. I was kinda pissed about how that worked out because we worked several days longer than everyone else who was finished and partying and had been waiting days to find out when they are going home, and on my last day of work I wound up on the list to leave at 6am the next morning, when we didn't finish working until 8pm, so while some kids were done way earlier and waiting to leave, we never even got one night to catch up on sleep. Plus it was the last night, so of course we were gonna party and say our goodbyes. I got probably an hour of sleep that night, felt like fucking shit when I left, and then passed out in a bush in Seattle for like an entire 24 hours.

    Anyway, there's probably so much more I can write about it all, but I already wrote way more than I meant to, so I guess as an ending here -- my shift lead who tells himself that every year is going to be his last year working there, but always comes back anyway actually summed it all up better than anyone in one phrase:

    "It's really not that bad..... but it's the worst thing I've ever done."
     
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    #13 yellowbrickfreeway, Oct 16, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2016
  14. ped

    ped Glorified monkey
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    cool shit. I posted this years ago but I will again. Amazon during oct-dec hires campers/full-timers/travelers. Usually 3 sites across the country, check the site I will link. Campsite paid for, shuttle to and from, pick your shift. Usually make $5-6k

    http://amazondelivers.jobs/about/our-opportunities/hourly-fulfillment-jobs/camperforce/


    There are also gigs in TX gulf area for gate attendants. I hear you do not need a camper, they will provide (probably for a fee). they do provide fuel and dump tanks. You go to remote sites and log employees in and out twice a day. Last I checked it was about $150 a day.

    Do a search for texas gate guards and many companies will come up.
     
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  15. Kat Kelevra

    Kat Kelevra Just signed up

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    Wow, awesome scenery! I have a few friends that work with Signature foods in Alaska. They keep asking me to do it but.....NAH :)
     
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  16. OP
    OP
    iamwhatiam

    iamwhatiam beach bum
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    Hey, thanks for the reply. They wanted to send me to Naknek at first but it is too bleak up there for me. I need to be around trees and I feel very comfortable in the woods there in Southeast AK, so I pushed for Sitka. It's a beautiful town but I gotta say I'm a little jelly that you got to work with so many other traveling kids. There weren't really any traveling kids of our kind there at the plant in Sitka.

    I can't imagine how the other cannery would not let people leave the ground. WTF? is that even legal? I can't see how anyone would want to work at that plant when there are so many others that are more lax.

    And about getting sick...yes, that's always a common thing at the canneries. And most of the time, unless you are very sick and have a doctor's note - you can't miss any work or risk being fired. Besides being hungover a few times and the one day where I thought for sure I was gonna keel over from exhaustion and lack of sleep from the night before, I'm lucky I didn't get sick. I started to get an itchy throat/cough but thankfully I know my wild medicinal herbs of the region well enough that I was able to dig up some roots from the Goats'beard plant (Aruncus dioicus) that grows like a weed (along with some other herbs) and made some medicinal tea with it. Next day, no more throat issues!!!! Also, I ate a fuck ton of berries. Salmon berries, blueberries, huckleberries....so that def provided some extra vitamins/antioxidants. Not sure how prolific berries are in Naknek tho.

    Glad you got to work in the packing department. That's one of the better positions you could have. That's what I did my first time working for a cannery in Ketchikan. I got that job, I think, because I grew up there. Slime line is the worst. Yes, Kitchen crew is probably the best job....they ALWAYS get hours no matter what, because people need 3 meals a day regardless if there are fish in or not. Not sure what the kitchen crew made out with as far as salary at the end of the season, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was twice as much as what I made.

    The Rumors......ah the rumors.....lmao. It's the same in every processing plant. My coworker and I made it a game everyday to see who had heard the best gossip going around for the day. Of course I didn't believe most of it. I started to get annoyed about half way through the season too because my department - sorting - worked closely with the dock crew and we were generally the first to know when a boat was supposed to come in or how many fish we were getting. I got tired of being asked "How many fish are we getting in today" about a 100 times a day...I finally just starting replying "around a million pounds or so" every time they would ask.

    If I ever go back to do processing work again, I'm thinkin about bringing some cartons of smokes like you said, and maybe bring up a few ounces of herb to sell on the side too. You could make some good side money. Actually, I could probably make bank going up there Just to sell weed to the workers.

    But yea, fishing boat is where it's at. Actually when I think of it, you would probably make more money working at a plant on shore but you will bust your ass more. Unless you get a job on a seiner....I heard you can make real good money on them. I worked on a tender boat before, but I learned that unless you get along with the captain (and don't mind being yelled at constantly) it's not very enjoyable.
     
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  17. Applelatchun

    Applelatchun Hungry for Knowledge

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    Awesome Post! Very Informative!!! 5 Stars!
     
  18. CelticWanderer

    CelticWanderer Celebrated Poster

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    Woah, thats just awesome, Sounds like a good way to go see Alaska again.
     
  19. Brother X

    Brother X caput gerat lupinum
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    Just got an offer letter from Silver Bay yesterday. Submitted my background check info and once I pass that (I will) I get my marching orders. Taking a break from IT for a few months and going to Alaska. Then it's down to the Dirty Scout's Jamboree for me in October.
     
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  20. paiche

    paiche Appreciated Participator

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    I love fish stories. I worked at a cannery in Seward, AK. Beautiful place. 14 hr shifts, 16 hrs if you worked cleanup which I did for about 7 days. No breaks except to sleep and eat 7 days a week. There were people who partied but Idk how they did it. I was tough, but not that tough, those people may not have stuck out the season. I was carrying a child in my womb at the time too so I suppose that was part of the exhaustion. I started where everyone starts and where they weed out the suckers, right after the boat offloads and the fish get put on a conveyer they have a person stand there for 14 hr shifts positioning the salmon then a machine chops the head off, bam-bam-bam, its fast and all the blood turns to a mist so everyone in that room, if you don't find your way out quick, wind up in the clinic for some nasty moldy lung issue. I got it a little bit but I found my way out down the line. The farther down the more cush the job. First its chopping, then slicing then more chopping and stuffing into cans (where people would fall asleep and lose their gloves and hats and shit that would really mess up production because they would have to stop the line to find the tainted product. Then the cans went into the cooker. After the stuffing and clipping gig I moved into the egg room. That was the best place to work. You could sit down and listen to tunes and talk to people and it was warm. All the other spots were refrigerated but they kept the egg room at like 79 degrees. The women's bathroom was not just a place to pee and poo. It was where we had our breakdowns and cried and hugged one another because that's how intense the shifts were. One day in the break room I saw a job posting. I had to apply for it so I did hoping it would be better. They called me in and said no one else applied! You would think everyone would be trying for something better. I got myself higher pay and a job as a fish grader for the frozen market. Now I was able to walk around slinging halibut and King Salmon grading them and telling others where to put stuff. That's where I spent the most time and where I made a few friends. The hours were just as long but the work was no longer boring and stationary. I highly recommend this work for seasonal gigs as long as your willing to find a way out of the shit holes!
     
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