Living & Working in Great Places
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Wow. Just wow. This season has flown by. I just noticed I did not post a single thing the entire time except the first piece where I told about my initial impressions. How did I not post anything?
I'll tell you how. I have been having the best time of my life, bar none. I absolutely love it up here and I do not want to leave. Of course, I have to, on October 1st, because my contract is up, but, I did get picked up for the winter season and I will be returning on December 16th till April 3rd for that, still in Reservations. So there's that.
What did I think of my working experience? Well, let's see.
My overall impression of the entire season is overwhelmingly positive. There are only a few small negatives and perhaps they are unavoidable so it might be useless to even list them, but I do want folks to know what it is like and what they can expect, and how worth it I think it is regardless.
Let's talk about the basics: Food, housing, and working conditions.
Food - those that have been in the Army will recognize the food and the conditions under which it is served immediately, and will feel right at home. They start out with very good ingredients and then bash them into some semblance of eatable substances, some of which are actually very good, and others not so much. How anyone can mess up roasted baby carrots, time after time, is beyond me. It just is. Those who were in the Navy and Air Force, you will be sorely disappointed with the food, it is below par from what you are used to, lol. The recipes they are using need to be updated and refined HEAVILY. I do not know where they got them, or why they don't fix them, but they don't, and I don't expect them to, it's just too difficult I guess. It is adequate to get you through the season, but the once in a while eat a meal off the reservation becomes heavenly.
Housing - If I never have another roommate as long as I live (at least, not one of my choosing, preferably female, blonde, brunette or readhead, I'm not picky) it will be too soon. I did not have a bad roommate, that's not the issue. It's the fact you have a roommate at my age! I want my own room for crying out loud. It is downright undignified at this point to have to share a room like I'm a college boy. Not cool. But, it is bearable, and my roommate is a great guy and I hope to stay in touch with him from now on. So there's that.
Working conditions - You have the normal corporate mentality here that lives by the time clock. Never having had to deal with a time clock before, this was somewhat difficult to get used to. If you're previous jobs had time clocks, then you're going to do fine. The fact they can change your days off without notice, put you on the schedule for extra shifts without notice, and deny you a requested day off because of minor considerations, is annoying at best, and downright aggravating most of the time. Another issue is the 40 hour work week I turned up working. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but the web page that told me all about working for Xanterra in Yellowstone says, in several places, that most jobs people wind up working four days a week and having three days off. I know I remember that being a prominent part of what really got me excited about working here. Did. Not. Happen. If I wanted to work a 40 hour week I could have stayed where I was instead of retiring, sheesh. Most of the people I worked with were great, and the managers I liked very much, but the little things got to me that seemed to be done without thought for those being managed. For all the mouthing of platitudes about teamwork and leadership, ad nauseum, I saw little of it exercised. On the other hand, I give them credit, the job does get done, and that's what we're here for.
On the flip side, most of the people I've met, worked with, and worked for, are just great people. The location, Yellowstone National Park, is used to justify overlooking minor details, like the fact we're being paid a very minimal amount, and being charged for room and board on top of it, as in: "But you get to be in Yellowstone", when you mention any of the negatives. Yes, you do, and for some, that's enough, like me, but I know that if a few minor issues were changed they'd have to run me off with a stick, I'd work for them forever. Like this having to leave between contract, man I hate that. I'd rather pay them rent and pay for meals in the EDR so I didn't have to go find something to do for two and a half months, then come back! But, it is what it is.
In addition, I got to be in Yellowstone....lol. Not only that, I got to be in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. I have fallen in love with Paradise Valley and if things go the way I want, I will be moving up here for good one day. I'll see how I do over the winter here and see if it's something I want to put up with regularly, and if so, I'm here, and I'm not leaving. Whether or not I continue to work in Yellowstone is beside the point, I'm home.
If you've been considering a seasonal job at some point, by all means, do it! Everyone has different pressure points, and you may find that mine make no difference to you and you enjoy every aspect of working here, or at any park. I am so very glad I did it, and I'd not change a thing. Jump in, the water is not so deep, you'll be fine.
I wish you all continued blessings and I hope you all find that seasonal job that makes things work out right, just as I did.