Once I was back home I was into my routine of utilizing the Skills Centre to look for work along with checking the Canada Employment Office and newspapers at the library in Fruitvale.
They couldn't promise how much work would be forthcoming, but it was the only way to get into a position on the school board that paid very well and had the possibility of a steady future.
I had to be around home at 1 p.m. daily when the calls would come if they needed a temp to fill in.
I was in the routine to await a call which came a few times where I would be dispatched to whichever school in the Trail or Castlegar area was short-handed and work from about 3-10 at a very leisurely pace I was unaccustomed to.
As luck would have it only a few months after I signed on in the late fall of 2000 the government announced big cut backs in funding and the calls ceased for good.
I had enough E.I. to carry on for quite awhile, but I hated not being employed.
He had the disappointing news that the equipment was to be auctioned off on the 12'th and would I like a few days' work with the auction company.
I was happy to do something and reported out there with a few other of my former co-workers where we helped get things ready the day before the auction date.
My job included situating barrels around the site to keep warming fires burning (which was right up my alley).
The forklifts,loader and two trucks had to be thawed out and started after sitting for the long period of inactivity.
The parking lot had to be cleared of 18" of snow to allow the buyers a place to leave their vehicles.
A kitchen was set up in the former lunchroom where food was to be sold the next day.
One perk for us staff was free food and as much as we wanted.
The auction company guys told us to get in out of the cold when we needed to and have something to eat.
The following morning was just as cold and the vehicles started arriving in big numbers.
As I kept the fires going I could watch some of the activity and was amused at the auctioneer's obvious discomfort from the cold as he urged everyone to hurry things along.
One ill-dressed American from California was heard to say "Piss on this!" as he rushed to his car wearing only summer attire and sped off in a southerly direction.
As things progressed I was directed to act as security by the main gate and check receipts as buyers left.
I had a fire barrel beside me and was quite comfortable as the hours went by.
I had a bit of a diversion when one of the Boyce brothers known by all area citizens as "The hillbillies" approached from the ramshackle farm across the highway followed by a small and thin duck.
As we had a few words I noticed the chilly duck as he huddled against the hillbilly's leg.
He noticed and cuddled the bird to him, but worried me as they both leaned towards the flames licking out of the barrel.
Now warmed, they made the return journey homeward.
By early evening everything was sold and I was paid out in cash at $10.00 per hour.
I noticed two shovels that had been overlooked and saw that they were the ones issued to me when working there. I had marked them with a blotch of orange spray paint..
Before I left I asked one of the auctioneers if I could have them as souvenirs of my time at the mill and was told "Throw them in your trunk." I was also presented with a Trade West Auction cap that I also have as a remembrance.
I later heard that the amount earned amounted to only 10 cents on the dollar.
Once again the government had screwed up royally.
The mill was now eerily gutted and empty. It still sits in that state over 10 years later.