I’ve been noticing an interesting phenomenon here at Cedar Pass.
As the season is winding down, students who were just here working during break are heading back to college, foreign workers who were here on visas will soon be returning home as their visa expiration draws near. Between this week and next week, we’re losing a lot of people at the Lodge.
What I find curious is that having known these people for only four months or so, I’ve formed much stronger bonds with them than I have with any coworkers I’ve had before, even for the places I’ve worked for years at.
I’ve been thinking about why that might be, and come up a number of factors that contributed to this:
- We all know we have a finite amount of time here unlike a standard job that that has no expiration date, and so the acquaintance phase is pushed through more quickly to get to the friendship phase
- We all came here from somewhere else, and so we don’t have any other community to fall back on for social interaction except the one we make
- This is a pretty remote area, so there are less opportunities for meeting potential new friends outside of work
- Working at a National Park there is a lot of stuff to see, and it being new for all of us, we want to explore it. Exploring new places is more fun, safer, and more economical (splitting gas costs) with other people
- There is no reason for us to compete with each other on the job, which can build animosity between coworkers. As in, no promotion to be trying to win, no reason to suck up to management for future gain down the road, etc.
- Working seasonally at a tourist destination feels more like a working holiday than a real job. The mood is lighter, the customers are happier and easier to deal with, it’s an easier environment to build friendships in.
- We’re all living in the same housing (well okay, RVers are in their RVs, other people are staying in employee cabins), staying in the same area within walking distance of each other, eating the same food, dealing with the same problems (bugs and heat right now), and sharing rides to and from work every day. It’s hard for community NOT to spring up given how much time we spend with each other and how much we have in common right now
- We all came here with the same goal: to save up some money and make memories at a unique location that many of us will never see again.
One of my coworkers (and friends) from England is leaving today. She didn’t like working here at the Lodge for the most part. It was too remote for her and she likes cities, she wasn’t able to save as much money as she had hoped because the wages are low, she wasn’t expecting to have to rough it as much as she did, she didn’t enjoy the food that was available – but as we were driving home from work yesterday for her last time, music turned up and windows rolled down, she still teared up. “I’m not going to miss this place, but I’m going to miss you guys.”
And it’s true. I think a lot of people have romantic notions about working a park job like this, that it’s all play and no work, that all the amenities of modern living will be within easy reach, that it’s a easy way to coast through a summer saving up wads of dough.
I came in knowing that it wasn’t going to be any of these things (I’d done the math knowing what the wages were going to be, I knew no employer in their right mind would hire workers if it didn’t improve their bottom line, I knew the first sizable city was over 70 miles away) but a lot of my coworkers, especially the younger ones, didn’t anticipate this but still managed to enjoy themselves and will be sad to leave.
And I wager it’s because of the shared experience. Because we were all in it together, the ups and downs, good days and bad, we connected with each other in a way that would have been hard in a conventional setting.
Whatever else working at a National Park for a season may be, it’s an Experience. One that I recommend everyone try at least once in their lives.
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This post was a bit late because I’m hard at work now scrambling around to get the job situation for after Amazon and possibly next summer sorted out sooner rather than later. My life of perpetual travel is an amazing and I wouldn’t trade it for the world – even when highs climb into the 100’s every day and hordes of biting bugs come out every night – but everything worthwhile takes effort, and for how I choose to live that means spending a lot of time searching for gigs, sending inquiring e-mails, and filling out applications.
Today I have another article going live too. I wrote a guest post for Bob over at http://cheaprvlivingblog.com/ about safety as a female solo RVer, so if that’s something you’re interested in, you should go peek at it. Bob writes a lot about vandwelling and RVing on a very limited budget, so if even a rig costing $19,500 like Bertha and Cas together did is out of your reach, you should go check him out for pointers.
And for anyone who stumbled over here from Bob’s blog, welcome to Interstellar Orchard! I’m glad to have you here and hope you enjoy your stay. The About pages explains quite well what this site is all about. If you have any questions about RVing, deliberate living, or how to survive 100 degree heat in an encapsulated fiberglass bubble (hint: RVs have wheels for a reason, avoid if at all possible. If not possible, take good care of your A/C and shower often), that page also has my contact information as well as links to my Facebook and Twitter. As you peruse IO you’ll quickly find that my readers contribute as much to my articles as I do, so the comments section is well worth reading.
Safe travels and happy trails to all of you!