(BRANDON HANSEN/Managing Editor of the Chewelah Independent)
Father’s Day is just around the corner and while the more famous dads out there might be Sith Lords trying to chop off their son’s hand (looking at you, Darth Vader), there needs to be a bit of spotlight put on the logging dads out there.
You know the type: the greasy, shirtsleeve missing, diesel pickup truck that has more dents than chrome driving guys who work more than they sleep.
It’s no shock or surprise that Chewelah is a blue collar town — heck it’s in our school colors — and many guys are the wake-up-at-the-crack-of-dawn-and-lace- their-work-boots-up types. From the guys working in the mills, to the drivers in the log trucks, to the operators out in the brush – your efforts don’t fall on the deaf ears of your kids.
The logging industry is something of a contradiction; it’s both family-friendly in providing family-supporting jobs but also gives our logging dads a schedule that is busier than the Chataqua beer garden on a Saturday night.
Many mornings start at 3 a.m. or even sleeping in to 4 a.m. if they’re lucky to get a nearby job site. Sometimes the commute can be up to two hours one-way to the various area timberlands. They put in a hard days work that throws more things at you than most workplaces: falling trees, dangerous ground, machine breakdowns, weather and even the occasional cantankerous co-worker.
Then it’s back into the crew cab and another long drive back home where the nighttime routine includes a hot meal, a shower and an early bed time.
[And don’t get me started on some of these logging crew cabs that look like they have survived disasters worse than Chernobyl.]
And yet, if you know a logger, you know they sometimes can’t stop talking about their work with other loggers and it’s more of a lifestyle than a job.
Some are comedians such as the loggers who will comment their chainsaw is spewing out toxic exhaust just before they take a drag from their cigarette. Others are amateur historians, able to talk about nearly every John Deere skidder model made since the 1980s.
In an era where people seemingly complain about everything, these guys endure enough to fill about 40 newspapers’ worth of issues. Aside from the everyday annoyances, the logging industry is a constant balancing act of markets, weather, employees and sanity.
[Although, hop on a logging Facebook group; there’s plenty of complaining, but it’s all good-natured. Unless you mention the name Inslee.]
But having met plenty of loggers, they’re some of the best people you’ll ever get to call a friend or relative. They also tend to be pretty good dads as well.
Many kids graduating from JHS through the decades can probably thank their logger dad for helping them get to that point. One of the most constant things I hear from loggers is “Well I don’t want my kids to become a logger,” but some do, some don’t. If it gets into your blood, as some people say, it’s hard to get rid of.
While times and technology have changed, and there are probably better industries to get into, the modern day logger and logger dad continues to impress and amaze me. It takes a certain kind of character – usually involving guys with plenty of character one way or another – to do that kind of job.
So if you see a logger, thank him, because where do you think your toilet paper comes from?