OUTLOOK - In Part 7 of our special series exploring the work being done by employees with the Town of Outlook, we see that sometimes the most dedicated and hard-working people are the ones who are perhaps less visible than others.
They're the ones you don't see as often as you would others, such as the outdoor workers manning lawns or the staff who hop in machinery to tackle this or that job. But the work being done by some of the Town's more 'behind the scenes' crew is vital in making sure that things run as smoothly as they can so that others can continue carrying out the services that they do for the people who call this community home.
Ray Ames is one of those crew members. As the Town's facilities technician, Ray's focus is keeping a watchful eye on and dealing with the maintenance of key buildings such as the town offices complex, as well as the former recycling depot and the cottages owned by the Town. As such, depending on the time of day, it's highly possible that you may not even see Ray performing his duties. But when you do, it's difficult not to stop and say hi to the friendly Ames, who moved to Outlook from a much-busier and much-bigger Alberta city.
"I've been doing this since March 1, 2019," said Ray, sitting down with The Outlook. "I'm born and raised in Calgary, and I was a building operator there for 30-odd years. I went to SAIT, and on separate occasions I did my Building Operator B course, A course, fourth class, and an engineering course. My wife, my step daughter, my son-in-law and grandkids all lived in Outlook. They had lived in Milden and moved to Outlook, and Calgary was just getting too big for me; too many people, and I just stopped liking it. Monica said, 'Why don't we think about moving to Outlook?', and the four previous years before we actually moved out here, we came and went to the campground and just fell in love with Outlook. That's what brought me here."
As has been the repeating case in discussing a town worker's daily items, what comes up is a schedule that sees Monday's tasks look decidedly different from those of Wednesday or Friday. For Ames, such a schedule can allow him to learn something new from time to time.
"A typical day for me is in the morning," Ray explained. "I come to the town office, I do my morning rounds, and then after that, it's anything goes! I've done painting, and in fact, I painted this room for Maureen (Weiterman, acknowledging the Monday Mornings with the Mayor office in which the interview was conducted). I do maintenance, and I had a project at the medical centre in the hospital where I went in on Saturdays and did some painting in there. That took about three months to complete. In the court room, I rebuilt the judge's desk, and so I'm really all over the place, which is great because I'm learning new things every day."
With Ray's line of work, you sometimes need supplies in large numbers and the ability to rely on other skilled workers in order to get projects wrapped up. Ames says that recent times in our world have left a lasting impression, which can affect things around here from time to time.
"Contractors out here are very busy, so getting them here can be a challenge," he said. "As well, parts or equipment, because of COVID, the manufacturing plants have been affected, which means that we've been affected. Those are probably the two biggest challenges that I have; getting stuff that I need and contractors, when I need them."
Still, Ray enjoys his work and the people that come with it, who've been welcoming to him as he transitioned from Calgary to Outlook.
"The benefits of my job, I'd say, are getting to meet the people of the town," he said. "I work with great people in the town office and I really enjoy that. Being around people and meeting people are the highlights of my job."
The public might not even see Ray carry out his tasks, especially if he's squirreled away in some hidden, out-of-sight, 'I didn't even know that was there' part of the town's infrastructure. But he's there, carrying out the work to ensure that this or that particular piece of the town's mechanics continues to work.
"I guess with a lot of the work, people don't see me," he said. "Like, I'm not out on the roads and visible like the public works staff. Some of my work, like in the town offices, is in a crawlspace below us, so I'm down there crawling under ducts and stuff like that, but people would never really know that because unless you've been under there, you might not even know that it existed."
As a former worker in a big city, a lot of the things that Ames carries out here are new to him, allowing him to learn more as he goes. It all makes for an interesting workplace experience.
"All the stuff that I'm learning," he said, asked what parts of his job have been eye-opening to him. "As a former building operator in Calgary, a lot of the stuff I do here now is new to me because I was so busy looking after contractors in Calgary. I didn't have time to paint or rebuild desks, that would be stuff that I would call a contractor in to do because I just didn't have the time to do it."
What makes Outlook stand out as a community to Ray is the friendliness of the people, as well as the cozy size of the town.
"How friendly the people are," he said. "It's a nice small town, but you seem to have pretty much anything you need here. You have a hospital, food stores, gas stations, a Dairy Queen that's coming, and I just love the smallness of the town because I'm from Calgary."
Ray says that he and everyone working to ensure the people of this town have what they need try to get things done in a timely manner, but he hopes people understand when there's a hiccup or two. Still, they strive to do and give their best.
"Including the public works staff, we try and do our best to get things done as fast as we can," he said. "Of course, if there are delays getting stuff or emergencies happen, that would delay us from getting things done, but we always strive to do our best, be our best, and get things done in a reasonable amount of time just to keep the people happy, but of course, that doesn't always work."