Are You Unhappy in Alaska?


Yesterday, I received an e-mail from Bill Blake, a co-worker from my Cessna days and a kindred spirit in the passion of Root Cause Corrective Actions nerd-isms.  The subject of the e-mail set the tone for the discussion:
Are you unhappy in Alaska?
With his permission I am sharing parts of that conversation (edited in part because I needed to tone down the language I used and in part because I always think I can write things better).


Hey Mitch,

How’s it going?  Hope all is well.  Great

How are things going?  Seems like your Alaska posts are leaning more towards the depressive instead of the positive I was reading last year.  Has the allure worn off yet?

Ttyl – Bill Blake

I tell you what is most different up here in Alaska is that my life has flipped around to what it was at Cessna.  
I liked living in Wichita, but I am realizing how the things I liked about Wichita were things that I could like about living anywhere – the people were great but people can be great anywhere and the stuff I did for fun wasn’t anything special to Kansas.  The people up here are great, but the stuff I do for fun up here is special – like hiking and curling and fishing.  Then you add to it the scenery and beauty that is in your face constantly, and life outside of work is pretty great.  
Truth is, the job is more frustrating and aggravating.  I didn’t expect the pain that comes with oil and gas.  Everything I do has to be touched by, discussed with, and approved by a laundry list of people.  Since I am the “guy that came from another industry” I’ve been seen as unqualified to do things I was considered to be an expert at in Aerospace.  I found myself becoming more egotistical – before I could be good at something by just doing it, now I have to tell people how good I can be so they can let me be good at it.  Processes that took 4-5 months at Cessna average 18 months at BP.   I try to make it better, but the process to make it better can be as demanding.  
So at the end of the day – when I lived in Kansas, my work life balance was more about work than life.  Here it’s more about life than work.  Best example is that most of my Kansas friends were people I work with, while most of my Alaskan friends are people I DON’T work with.  
Sure I complain a lot in my blog, but in part that is kinda how I am trying to create humor in the blogs too.  Seriously, I have write a post every month where I claim it to be “the worst time of the year” – how is that not ironic and funny.  The real truth is that we are running into the best time of year — we suffer for 9 months of winter, so we can have the best 3 months of summer anywhere in the world.  I am going to take up fly fishing, I am going to try to dip net for salmon, I am going to take my RV out, I am hiking in the backwoods, camping in the broad daylight of summer midnight … it’s going to be awesome.
Probably more honest about my work than I should be in this blog, but I hope it puts some things in perspective.
The easy answer to Bill’s question — am I unhappy in Alaska?  The answer is a resounding “No”.  But if you ever read a single post on this blog … I wouldn’t be Mitch Nelson if I didn’t complain.

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