Finally after all those false starts, I have my marching orders: pick up an airplane in Calgary and take it to the job site. Ironically, despite being certain I was going to work any day now for almost three weeks, I still haven't packed. I don't like packing. It's probably part acknowledging the fact that I have to leave my cocoon and go out in the cold hard world for a work rotation, and part just the irritating process of finding everything I need and putting it in a suitcase so that it fits and won't get damaged. And it always seems to take me hours to pack. This time it will be different.
I print off my packing checklist and start my timer; I think it was designed as a kitchen timer; it has big giant numbers and buttons, and is easily programmed to count up or down. I use it as an IFR timer. The clock is running.
I take the suitcase out of the closet. It already contains some items that I only use at work, but I have to make sure what is there. I take them all out and put them on the bed, then start putting things that are on the list back in, as fast as I can find them, check them off and put them in. I find and pack everything in 99 minutes. That seems really slow, but it's way better than normal. I used to marshall everything on the bed first and then pack it all in prescribed places in the suitcase, so everything got checked off twice (with different sorts of checkmarks), once for being on the bed and once for being packed in the appropriate suitcase. And remember I am packing for up to six weeks, for a number of unknown (at the time of packing) locations which could be anywhere from thirty below to forty above.
Before you tell me I should repack everything, or repack everything but the things I will need while I'm home, as soon as I get home, I already tried that and it doesn't work. I used to get home, do laundry and repack everything. But over the month it was irritating to have things I needed be in the suitcase, and I kept needing to use things I thought I wouldn't, and taking them out, so by the time it was time to leave for work, I had to take everything left in the suitcase out again in order to find out what wasn't there anymore, and then we're back to the original packing problem.
And then you will tell me that I need to have duplicates of items so I don't need them during the month. I do have two pairs of running shoes, duplicate toiletries, and some clothes that I use just for work, but I don't have two iPods or computers or heart rate monitors and some of the things I take with me I take because I LIKE them so I'm not going to deprive myself of my favourite sweater just because I also use it for work.
I've gained four pounds since my last rotation--the only time I weigh myself is to tare the scale before picking up my suitcase to make sure it will be allowed on the airplane. I'd say "who cares, people fluctuate that much over a day," except that I can figure out where the extra weight is, and it isn't hiding very stealthily. My suitcase is six pounds overweight, but it's easier to trim down to size. Actually it's not very easy to choose things to leave behind. Instead I pack some heavy things into a leather bag that is already packed inside the suitcase. I'll have two carryons. I think I did that last time, too. I often do it on the way home, if I have souvenirs.
Ready to go. And just as I have this ready to post, xkcd has the perfect comic for me.