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Too old, too late to cut the mustard anymore

Posted on September 20, 2023 by Sunny South News

Dear Editor,

Not everyone can write the Power Engineer’s 2nd class exam and pass it. I have worked in various Power Plants for 25 years. My first job was as 4th class engineer and had to work myself upward. I admit I was a greenhorn after graduating from Weyburn College. My instructor Jim Legget asked me to stand in front of class and read something from a text concerning a condensation tank and its process. I stuttered and was nervous at first but, later I learned the ropes. Hector Bourassa and I were selected to work at Boundary Dam near Estevan, Sask. because our marks were the highest. I was hired to commission a 4th Boiler-Turbine Generator. One would never believe that the Power Plant was so huge but still with the bells and whistles the operating engineers were able to run the plant safely. Just consider the boiler drum, it was situated 14 floors up and the combustion chamber was nine floors deep. They used natural gas and pulverized lignite coal to fire the boilers. They put me as coal handler when I had to fill the hoppers with coal transferred off a conveyor belt. The job was hot, dusty, and at the end of the day my face was black and I had trouble breathing. They later put me to work at the EGS, the ancient Power Plant that ran on stoker-fired boilers. I was in control of the entire shift; the work was cleaner. However, one had to be on the ball especially when some coal missed the bed then the steam pressure would drop down and the Charge Engineer would be down my back. This means the megawatts cannot be produced for the main grid.

Today I am a qualified Power Engineer 2nd Class since I worked myself up the ladder. But since the absence of working in the Power Plants for 37 years no employers will hire me because of my age “I am too old, too late to cut the mustard anymore”.

Paul Jones, Coaldale

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