Heat wave leading some B.C. workers to seek ‘cooler’ employment

High temperatures are bringing new meaning to the idea of holding down a red-hot job for some workers in the province.

There’s nothing torrid about the over-heated tales readers are sharing of past work experiences that left them sweltering.

Conditions in those hot jobs may have been a factor in prompting readers to find other kinds of (cooler) employment.

Kate Smith describes duties and gear which added up to an experience that sounds like pure torture. She worked as part of a “ground-crew cutting undergrowth for power lines with a chainsaw while wearing the full gear that you had to for safety and getting poison ivy to boot.

“You ever try to scratch and itch through a pair of pigskin safety chaps on a 30-plus degree humid day? Not fun!”

Environment Canada is predicting temperatures in the mid to high 20s this week for Greater Vancouver and Greater Victoria, with sunny skies. But it should be cooler by the weekend, with a chance of showers on Sunday.

When the sun is beating down, you’re especially vulnerable on a roof. Matt Stuckenberg recalls, “screwing on a sheet metal roof for a barn in Tsawwassen. We had to start at 5 a.m. and ended at 2 p.m.”

Other readers shared some truly difficult work in the heat. Dave Larose said he was extremely hot when polishing the copper roof at Paul’s Motor Inn.

Another pot-boiler: Barbara Joyce Densmore’s stint putting down hot asphalt on a road in shifts that started at 7 a.m. and ran to 9 p.m.

Working in a pulp and paper mill back in the 1970s was an especially toasty job for George Sparrow. “Parts of where I worked were well over 110 F all the time!” On the bright side, the job, “kept me in good shape.”

Rob Forbes’ job of cutting fresh-rolled angle iron in an Ontario mill is seared in his memory.

Working outdoors in the forest industry or being indoors in a commercial kitchens or laundries all brought back sizzling memories for readers.

Cheryl Bradstock remembers being given salt tablets by her employer while working for three summers in a laundry business.

Diane Ball looks back on 40 years in the drycleaning business that was “hotter than hell!!”

Ball’s succinct description of conditions: “hot, hot, hot.”

Karen Street said working in a greenhouse was “hotter than hell!”

Todd Molyneux, who worked with Street and her husband in that greenhouse, said he’s found an even hotter job — steam pressure-washing a greenhouse floor recently.

The great outdoors is too hot for some. Norrie Froman remembers, “Trying to pick tobacco as a young teen in southern Ontario. Thankfully I failed at this dirty job from hell. The experience emphasized my dad's words ‘education.’ Thankfully, I went for it!”

And Deman Dezus reminds us that materials can make a big difference. He worked in a cabinet shop but here’s the kicker — it had a tin roof and siding.

Sounds like an oven to us.

Times Colonist