Hey faithful readers. If you are still here, know that I appreciate you still checking back once in a while, I know it is a long dry spell between posts.
Been here at my current power company gig now for about 18 months. Really liking it, really glad I made the move, and fully intend to retire from here.
When I wrote this post, I talked about how I was one of three hires. They actually only hired two at first, myself and an internal guy I'll call Eric. Then, one of the other companies I had applied for called, offering me a job that I turned down because I had accepted this one. Turns out, one of the existing operators here also put in for that other company, and after I declined, he got the offer and subsequently left. So my bosses went back to the list that Eric and I got chosen from, and grabbed the #3 guy, Dave.
Eric started first because he was already an employee and didn't need to relocate. I had to give two weeks and then move across the country, so my start date was almost a month later. Dave was an internal employee like Eric, and came in just a week or so after I did
We all went through training more or less together, but it was understood by everyone that I was the fast track guy because I was the only one coming with experience and there was a hole in the rotation that needed to be filled. I was released to operate first as expected, before the year was out.
What wasn't expected is that Eric would struggle as much as he did. This job just isn't for everyone. There are so many moving parts, so many things that you need to understand, and it requires substantial capacity to maintain situational awareness of everything going on. That and the confidence to do your job, be decisive, and take actions as needed without delay. Then there's loads of mundane abilities you have to master, mostly having to do with navigating procedures and software and such.
Still, Eric was making progress, but despite starting a little later, Dave was progressing more. About four months after I was cleared to operate, Dave got the blessing and went on shift as well. Eric and Dave actually were friends before coming in here, they worked together in the field for years before this. Dave being released first was hard on Eric, for sure.
Today was finally Eric's big day to make the final hurdle. Hell Day. After completing myriad task checkoffs and required courses, getting all of your documentation completed and certifications filed, and after passing a final written exam, you have an all-day intensive review in the training room on the system simulator, getting grilled by four or five other operators and supervisors. Various operating scenarios and system events are loaded into the simulator so the trainee can demonstrate recognition of what is wrong and what to do about it. Lots of questions, and maybe a few curveballs. You don't have to get everything exactly right, but you do have to demonstrate that you can function under pressure and are teachable, and that you at least don't do anything to wreck the system. Better to be decisive even if imperfect, than to do something seriously wrong, or to freeze up and do nothing. It's high pressure, no doubt.
So about three hours into Eric's Hell Day review, during a break, he came out, went to the restroom, and then... left the building without telling anyone, and never came back.
I mean, not everyone is cut out for this line of work, but usually this is discovered in the course of training well before Hell Day or whatever various companies do, and the operator candidate is allowed to coast along and help out as able until they are able to bid back out to a job in another department. Violently flaming out like this is, well... I know it happens, but I've never personally seen it happen before.
It left a dark cloud hanging over the place. Everyone feels bad for Eric. He's a nice enough kid, but maybe he never really recovered his confidence after Dave moved ahead of him. I do fully expect the company will work with him to find him a home elsewhere, probably in his previous department. But man, it's just a horrible thing to have happen.
I'll try to get back to you guys to let you know how it all ends up working out for him. My hopes and prayers are that this ends up ultimately being a good thing, that he finds a job he likes and can thrive at, instead of suffering in here over his head.
Keep the faith, my friends.