It’s 9 AM, and I’m in my bed typing this out. I’ve got pillows and blankets, and I’m warm and comfortable. I actually bought this bed with money that I earned trimming this year. I guess, implicitly, I sleep on a bed of peace. Kinda cool, but when I think back on it, this bed was 7 or 8 days of working 10-14 hours. A week of trimming peace equals out to a comfy cozy bed to sleep in. In another year this bed might have equalled out to 2 or 3 days of work, which is nuts when you think about it. The trimmers are by no means the last point in the distribution chain, in fact they’re the first point where money is changing hands after the crop has been harvested. And so, if you look at how the trimmers fair, you can get an idea for how the whole industry is doing.
If you’ll remember I last left you at fixing breakfast on my first full day at my frist trim scene of the season. I wound up spending roughly 5 days at that spot before the work ended. In traditional form we waited around on our last day while scene bossses were coming and going until eventually they called us over. In typical fashion there was a ledger where we were shown numbers for how much peace we trimmed each day (in grams) and then cash changes hands whilst thank yous are said, and respects are paid. We left from the first scene after sundown, and slowly crept back down the mountain on winding, and often imperceptible roads. When you’re driving away from a scene though the speed with which you flee never really matters, as the overwhelming sentiment is one of relief. Although in this moment the relief would be brief. We got back late, passed out, and then got back on the road at 8 the next morning.
We left early because we had a long ride. Our second scene saw us venturing out of the Emerald Triangle, and in fact out of California altogether. This is where we saw the best peace of the season, and likewise some of the best-grown peace I’ve ever seen. In fact I wouldn’t hesitate to say that the gentleman in charge of this particular operation was nothing short of a master cannabis grower. While the first scene wasn’t terrible, a sentiment that the year’s harvest was off had begun to proliferate throughout town in Arcata. However when we arrived in Oregon that couldn’t be further from the truth. On the day we got there and set up tents and worked less than half of a day I trimmed just about a pound. It looked like we were about to settle into the kind of work that people myth about. But as luck would have it this is also where the decline began. The first and second days consisted of much passive agressive behavior towards us, and it was apparent that for whatever reason, the welcome we had been extended was no longer valid. On the third day we decided to pack up and head back to Arcata and chalk this one up to the oddities of the personality types that come with the line of work. And just like that we were back on our way to Arcata. Bare in mind though, all this bouncing around, starting and stopping is very costly, and seriously diminishes the profit margin. So, 5 days after we had returned to Arcata from our first scene we were back again.
This time around we had a lag for a few days before we were able to find the next scene. And of course the lag is mostly filled with trepidation. Every day that passes unworked is at least $200 being deducted from your projected totals for the season. If you aint cuttin, you aint stackin cash. And that’s the motive here. But, thankfully after a lot of asking around we were back out again, and this time the scene was in town. It’s not uncommon for folks to have a large grow on a mountain an hour or two out of town, and then process everything in town. And so in this instance we were showing up to someone’s house every morning around 10, and hanging out till midnight or so.
Hit the jump for the rest!
Unfortunately the work at this spot was some of the absolute worst I have ever seen. Out of our group I was the second fastest, second to someone who has been trimming for 5 years, and does this work on and off year round. Not even the fastest person out of our group could trim a pound in a day. I mean, look at the picture above here. That is a large portion of a cannabis plant that I’m holding. That branch should have yielded 4 ounces or thereabouts, but it didn’t even have an ounce on it. It was like we were trimming charcoal drawings of cannabis. We worked like dogs for 5 days before we realized we were better off just taking a few days to rest. At this point we were well into the season, and the realization that we weren’t going to hit pay dirt was setting in. So with that in mind we opted out of returning to work at this particular spot and spent two days in town seeking out other employment and trying to tend to the things we’d neglected.
It’s pointless though. Once you’re in the head space of trim season, and once you’ve already ha to drop your entire life and go incommunicado you can’t just pick up for a day or two. It was a really awkward time trying to figure out what to do, but simultaneously being incapable of getting anything accomplished. Thankfully before long we were off to our last scene, which is where all the pictures (save the one right above detailing the limpness of the harvest) came from. It was by far the best scene we were at, but it was far from ideal. I also snapped and totally lost it not long after our arrival. You can probably imagine that tensions mount significantly in these situations, and this was no exception. The car ride down to our last scene yielded a particularly heated argument that while born of the moment, seemed to be inspired by much more entrenched sentiments. Spending countless hours in close quarters with no real break for 6 weeks on end will drive people to their limits. I just happened to reach mine not long after our arrival and I wound up sobbing alone in the middle of the woods after throwing a lot of rocks, breaking a lot of sticks, and going through some very very intense rage.
There was no beautiful realization, or settling conclusion either. I sat in the woods bawling out of pure frustration. It may seem racy, and adventurous to live this life and do this work, but really it kinda sucks. The only reason why you’re out there trimming is because other shit didn’t work out. You don’t wind up doing seasonal work in the Emerald Triangle because your life is all in order. You’re out there because other options aren’t working, and this presents an opportunity to make enough money to change your situation. But my situation wasn’t gonna change. I wasn’t gonna make enough money to survive and pay off student loans, and the other debts I’d accumulated in the last year trying to start my own business. Nobody wants to believe that things aren’t gonna work out, but that is basically the implied sentiment on every trim scene: “Shit aint workin out, so I’m here.” But don’t let me make it sound all negative and unfun, because there was definitely a lot of fireworks, shot skis (a ski with 6 shot glasses mounted to it that allows you to drink in tandem with your buddies), hash, large group dinners, camping, nature, serenity, antics, and exactly what you’d expect from a few dozen people holed up on a mountain trying to get away from a mad world.
Even though very few people really want to be out there, most folks that end up on trim scenes are down to have a good time. In the midst of a bunch of other people seeking to make lemonade out of their lemons, on the side of a mountain removed from everyone, it’s easy to let go of all the shit that’s eating you up. Of course you’re not escaping it, but you also don’t have to deal with it for as long as you’re out there. It’s a blessing and a curse in the realest sense. It’s a chance to escape the pressures of our society, without totally checking out, and you can earn money while you’re there. But it’s also an incubator for whatever isn’t right in your life. For hours on end everyday you’re engaged in exactly the type of minimally-demanding labor that leaves your mind with plenty of time to think and wander. I guess in the end it’s another instance where the culture of cannabis mirrors the plant. Trimming is like getting high for weeks on end. You get to check out from “reality” but your mind is gonna be prone, and even though while you’re gone things feel better, when you get back they’re the same. The only difference with trimming is when you get back, there’s a whole lot more weed in the world.- Zachg