Porcupine Damage

I’m an intern with an oil and gas company, which means I expected a certain level of engineering glamour associated with this opportunity, not being stuck with managing porcupine destruction.  But, here I am, stuck in a tiny, windowless office (more of a closet, really), working under the communications officer, and traveling occasionally out to remote outposts to assist in inspecting damages or weaknesses in our communications structure.


Now, don’t get me wrong.  Even as a near-graduate, I’m well aware of how important communications is to the infrastructure of our business.  People stationed in our remote locations rely on our communications systems to keep in touch with the office and family, coordinate operations, and get emergency services out there in case, God Forbid, something goes terribly wrong.  We need to be able to evacuate or shut sites down if the worst happens, or get a helicopter out there to air-lift an injured employee to the nearest hospital, or just keep our employees happy because they’re able to keep in touch with their loved ones.


But, I was shocked when I found out this would be the focus of my internship, and I despaired that it wouldn’t help me get a better job once I actually graduated.  By then, it was too late, and I was stuck.  I was stuck with getting an earful from an angry employee who was mad that communications went down at his outpost just when his wife was having a baby.  I was stuck researching ways to protect our radio communication sites more efficiently and with a lot less funding.  I was stuck dealing with porcupine destruction.


Apparently, those quiet and shy, but ungodly looking animals wreak havoc in and around our communication stations, especially the stations in the more forested areas of the country.  Before my internship, I thought they generally kept to themselves, eating the bark off trees in some far-off region of the country.  Turns out, they’re rodents.  That means they have teeth that grow all the time, so they have to gnaw on stuff just to keep their teeth down to the right size.  So, not only are they munching on the treated lumber we used to construct the communication station, they’re chewing on wires and aluminum, too.


Add porcupine damage to the regular damage of weather, vandals, and other animals, and it’s no wonder the communications director requires an intern at his disposal.  He needs someone just to field phone calls, research, and help him figure out ways to keep those stations up and running, for the safety of our employees and the success of the company.  So, I figure, if I can work out a way to keep the porcupine destruction down to a minimum, it might earn me a nicer internship upstairs, with a  cushy office and maybe even my own secretary.  One can dream.



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