The woman who greeted me at the camp had a badge that read: ‘First Impression Manager’. Her job was to greet the new workers arriving at the camp. She worked 12 hours or more a day on 21 day rotations, being ON and welcoming all the time. She showed me around the camp where there were windowless gaming rooms with large consoles. There was a gym room that had been the much missed bar before the camp went dry, and card tables where each year poker finalist were sent to Las Vegas, all expenses paid. Outside there was a race car track for battery operated cars that can cost thousands of dollars and go up to 90km/h, as well as a tennis and baseball court that was overgrown. There is nowhere to walk.
Her husband overdosed on pain medication while she was working at the camp. He had been depressed by side effects related to medication he was taking to treat an unknown illness. She lives with the pain that things might have been otherwise had she been there. She has been working a punishing schedule ever since. Her area of work is one of the lowest paid on sight but she likes that she can travel to 35 countries with the company she works for.
She is an avid gardener and I suggested she make gardens at the camp but she says that would be impossible as everything is poisonous here, and she was horrified that I swam in a lake in Fort McMurray. She was upset by the comment of the front man of an Elvis band who had just played in Fort McMurray and jokingly claimed his first sight on arrival there was “four squaws with their purses walking out of the casino”.