Tuesday, July 3, 2007

10 Years of Summer - 2000

Sometime during the spring of my freshman year of college I decided it would be a great idea to work far away from home over the summer. (This is said with a degree of sarcasm. I was going through a heart-broken/angry-at-the-world/depressed stage common to college freshmen after the sparkle of college and independent living has worn away. Spending the summer away from everyone I knew seemed to be the obvious solution.) I applied to work at several national parks and Yellowstone was the only one that ever replied to my application. I don't think I had any kind of interview or that they ever told me what I would be doing before I sent in my acceptance.

There are so many stories I could tell about that summer so I'll just give you the highlights:

  • As I've mentioned here before, my job was serving meals in the cafeteria at Canyon. This was the most terrible job I've ever had. It was hot and exhausting but had one redeeming feature: we could take home any food left at the end of the night. The food we served in the cafeteria was much better than anything served in the employee cafeteria so people would line up after the shift to fix themselves a plate of food for dinner. The people in upper management caught wind of this and banned the practice completely, forcing us to throw out massive amounts of lasagna, roast beef, and fried chicken every night. The rumored penalty for consuming food left over at the end of the shift was dismissal but no one really believed it. As the summer went on, the American college students working at the park would quit or get fired, resulting in a labor shortage. The park staff had anticipated this and began hiring young people from the Czech Republic to fill in the gaps. One of these new employees didn't know the rules about saving food and was busted taking home a plate of food shortly after he started work. He barely spoke English and had no idea what was going on, but he was nevertheless fired and put back on a plane to the Czech Republic less than a month after he arrived. Poor guy.
  • My first boss was arrested for drug possession (and maybe intent to sell?) about two weeks into the summer. That was kind of awesome.
  • My roommate got hit in the face with a softball about three weeks into the summer and had to go home. There was a mix-up in the housing office and no one ever noticed that I had a room to myself. Late in the summer there was such a shortage of employee housing that some employees had to stay in guest cabins and people would get new roommates within an hour of the departure of their old roommate but I kept my mouth shut. I really think having that room to myself kept me sane over the summer.
  • One night towards the end of the summer I was driving up to Butte with some friends to pick up someone's car that had broken down on a previous trip. We had some fireworks so after it got dark we drove onto some back roads and found a secluded place to light them. A couple misfired directly into the nearby cow pasture and set the dry grass on fire, much to the distress of the cows. We stared with open mouths until a few guys jumped the fences and stomped out the fires, then raced to the cars and got back to the main road as fast as possible. Good times.
  • I drove down to Durango for a family wedding at the end of the summer. I had about three days to make the trip so I made lots of stops along the way. Somewhere in Utah near Arches National Park I saw a ski lift by the side of the road and a sign advertising "Great Views!" I bought a ticket and rode to the top where the lift operator advised me to take a walk around the cliffs, assuring me the path was well marked. Obviously, it was not. I got completely lost and spent more than an hour wandering around cliffs, looking for footprints and anything that looked like a path. Did I mention it was 110 degrees? And that I had no water? And that I was wearing a skirt and flip-flops? It ended up being one of the most stressful experiences of my life - but at least I got some good pictures!

I went back to my first summer post and added some pictures. Marvel at how cute and skinny I was in high school.

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