Rolling Stone has an anonymous account of what it’s like to work up in Canada’s tar-sands industry. We’re not surprised that it sounds pretty bleak. Here are five details that did surprise us, though:

  • Some tar-sands camps have yoga classes.
  • The camps try really hard to keep workers from getting drunk — one big camp is dry, another has a bar with a two-drink max.
  • Workers’ rooms are searched by drug-sniffing dogs.
  • Ft. McMurray has a “Highway of Death” where huge rigs carry loads as big as two swimming pools.
  • If you don’t leave your truck running while you get out for the morning meeting, you get accused of being an environmentalist.

If Rolling Stone’s account doesn’t get you down enough, last month, Modern Love published an essay about what it’s like to conduct a relationship while working a fracking site in Colorado:

Sometimes he calls her, but phone conversations from pickup trucks tend to be remarkably restrained by the presence of others.

When you approach a truck and open the door, you’re constantly stumbling into private conversations. And once you stumble, it’s too late: you see the guy’s eyes dart around and hear his conversation muffle to an end, “I love you, too.”

Next time some energy company boasts about how their project’s going to create jobs, it might behoove us to ask: What kind of jobs? What kind of life will the workers lead? Will it be extremely depressing or only moderately depressing? And will there at least be yoga?

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