The past month has been a bit of a ride. We finally went up to Alaska to work and very different from what I expected.
After getting out of the airport, the representative for the company we worked for was there waiting. There were around 20 to 30 of us who came to work for that company and they had a school bus waiting to transport us. The bus ride was about 30 minutes across a nice looking landscape and past other companies.
When we got to the location, we were ushered into the mess hall to do some paperwork. It was a quick affair and soon after we were sent to the head of laundry and housing. She gave us our room assignment and sent on our way. Unfortunately for me, my dorm was right next to the generator, which was very noisy, but because it was a constant drone, it was easily pushed aside as white noise. There were 4 people to a room with about 10 or so rooms in our dorm. All my roommates seemed cool, but it would later be revealed that one of them wasn’t a very good roommate. The room was a decent size with 2 bunk beds and a single bed. When I got there the single bed was already taken, so I took a bottom bunk. As soon as all of us were there, we introduced ourselves and started setting up our stuff in our own spaces. Everything was going good. They were all close to my age but 2 were quite a bit older, I was the youngest.
After settling in, we had a bit of time to do as we pleased. Dinner was at 10:30pm and I was surprised because they had a good variety and the food was actually really good. They even had a salad bar that was fully stocked, and ice cream machine, cereal and milk and all kinds of sauces and condiments. After dinner, bed time. The next day was the first work day. We got an orientation in the morning and shift assignments soon after. There were 3 shifts, A, B and C. A shift worked from 7am to 10:30pm, B shift worked from 3:30pm to 7am and C shift worked from 11pm to 2:30pm. 2 of my roommates and I got A shift while my other roommate got C shift. My mom also got A shift. Since we spent the morning at orientation, A shift only got a half shift in the afternoon.
We were given boots and a quick tour of the processing plant. It was pretty big with 4 distinct processing areas, fish house, fillet, case up and egg house. Fish house is where the whole fish are taken to be headed and gutted. Fillet is where the headed and gutted fish are taken to be halved, trimmed, deboned (this is optional depending on the order) and placed onto racks for the freezer. Case up is where the frozen fish get packed up in boxes and shipped to wherever they need to go. Egg house is where the salmon eggs that are taken from fish house are processed. I’ve never been in or worked for egg house because they are very particular about who works there, but I have worked in all other departments. I primarily worked in fillet though, at the very end of the line placing the fish on the racks and attacking those racks up then handing them over to freezer. Toward the end of the season, fillet used the vacuum pack machine a lot more.
There’s a lot more to my Alaskan adventure than I can fit in a single article, so check back for the next one.