Editor's note: the following article was first published in the Nov. 20, 2012 print edition of The Compass.
"I went from cutting grass to cutting ice," says Rodney Reid, standing outside the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts on a recent balmy Friday afternoon as he takes a break from picking up litter in the parking lot.
The Bay Roberts man spent 20 years caring for the greens and fairways of Pippy Park before taking a maintenance job at the busy arena, where he's been for about two months.
"It was a big decision, but I ended up going here. I'm sick of the driving, to be honest with you," he says.
That drive took him from Shearstown to St. John's every morning, leaving at 4:30 a.m. each day for the seasonal job. He liked the work, but now he's only a few minutes away from home.
"You can't beat that," he notes.
In some ways, the two jobs aren't so different. He's still working to create the optimal playing surface for sport, and he still rides a machine to get the job done. Apart from the size, there isn't too much of a difference between lawn mowers and an ice resurfacer, according to Reid.
"You just keep your lines straight and you're OK," he said. "In regards to driving, there's not much to it."
Making ice come alive
When he works the early shift, Reid walks through the arena door at 6 a.m., unlocks everything, and gives the ice its first flood of the day. From then on he's kept busy with ensuring the place looks good and tidy, whether it's cleaning up the parking lot or the dressing rooms or perfecting his ice maintenance techniques.
In the same way he learned what it takes to create the perfect green, Reid has quickly learned how to create an optimal ice surface. It helps that the machine he uses is relatively new, and has a laser-assisted surface measuring tool to keep the ice surface flat. But there's nothing he can do about the weather, and it can sometimes impact the ice quality, he said.
"Oh yeah, I can tell when the ice is bad, no problem," he said, referring to recent mild weather that affected the ice surface.
But when the weather co-operates, he's had arena users tell him how pleased they are with the ice surface.
Between the little kids pushing red-tubed training supports, junior hockey players, figure skaters, and groups of people renting the ice, there's always something on the go, and it makes for a quick-paced day for Reid.
"The days fly, there's always something doin'," he said. And he loves it.
Although he admits to having some doubts about his decision to switch jobs, Reid's happy he made the switch.
"I think if I never took the job I'd be kicking myself in the bum," he says with smile.