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T-shirts, Talking Japanese and Please No Haggling--2010 CW 24/7

At midnight I was online at hulu watching a couple episodes of ol' Adam-12 before going to sleep. My rustic cabin is in Healy, Alaska. We have affectionately named our camp "Shantytown." We're not far from the housing that Princess Denali uses for their employees. That's about a quarter of a mile away in distance, but very different in style. Their's looks rather nicely built. Utilitarian in design, college dormlike, and well cared for, almost antiseptic. Our cabins are mainly plywood tents propped up on cinder blocks. They each have a couple of outlets. Each has a refrigerator/freezer. Some are barely painted. Some have names like the Big Dipper, Area 51, and the Love Shack. The Princess housing is up on a hill with surrounding fencing...OK it's not as bad as some of us jokingly (jealously) compare it to the looks of a juvenile detention facility. Ours is wide open, moose and fox wander in, hangout, move on when they tire of seeing and hearing us. But for $3/day most of us are content.

And hearing us, well, we do have our party fans. Actually the music theme might be Napalm's Party Two Days Straight. But from what I understand things are much calmer than in previous years. That's from a local who mentioned to me that she didn't even realize we were here...compared to being on the Trooper's regular stop.

I work the night shift at the Denali Gift Company. It's one of three gift shops run by the same owner. There's also the Canyon Gifts and McKinley Outlet. Yep, we're in the canyon...or as some refer glitter gulch. And yeah, we're the ones with the neon signs, too. We all started working a variety of shifts in each of the stores until the management could decide on the best fit. I work in the smallest of the three stores, but because of it's the middle and right next to the Salmon happens to be usually the busiest of the three. We shuttle by van back and forth, it's about a 15 minute ride. The night shift usually gets back around 11:30 pm. And not unlike many night jobs, you need some time to unwind.

I woke up at 7 am, I was thinking about catching a ride in with the day crew. Maybe do something in the park. Maybe check out a couple of the other stores in the canyon. But hearing the rain rapping on my abode, I rolled over and went back to sleep for a couple more hours.

I did get up around 9:30 and went and showered. Oh yeah...our cabins are not equipped with things like plumbing. There is a separate facility with a couple of showers and toilets and then a main cabin with a couple in too. I did a little looking online...did I mention that the wifi in the main cabin just happens to reach my own cabin? It was just a light sprinkle now, and I walked over to Fisher's Fuel and's the nearest Tesoro station. There's a couple of coffee places in town where I can get a mocha fix. This one has an extra shot of espresso and more chocolate too. And the other isn't open on weekends, but has a nicer overall flavor. I was going to pick up some milk here too. Prices can be quite different from just the few places in Healy...or in the canyon. Milk by the gallon is cheaper at Fisher's, but I wasn't thrilled with the next Saturday's date. Tomorrow I was planning on stopping at the Chevron down the road...I'll pick up a half gallon there. Did I mention that our company is one of the places food is on your own?

I came back, finished my mocha while reading the Fairbanks newspaper. Took my trash out, thought about and dismissed the idea of doing laundry. Played with a puzzle. Then made myself a tuna sandwich.

The night crew got in the van and headed to work. We first all check in at the Canyon store, punch in, maybe have a quick meeting. This time, like most, the night crew got into the morning van and got a ride to the other stores...and the day crew punched out and got in the van for the ride home. We got in a couple of new T-shirt designs today. One of which I had to tag and fold and display. I then fixed a couple of other displays..some rounders were a bit mixed up and did a quick power fold of the T-shirt wall.

By that time it was time for our 10-minute breaks. I went first yesterday, so Karissa, went first today. I was at the cash register and this somewhat elderly woman did a two-minute stream, of what I could tell was Japanese, but didn't understand a word of it. My wide eyes and palms up expression had her husband laughing, but she either took it as I was hard of hearing or just a bit slow, because she restated it louder, but more slowly. From the hand gestures her husband gave me, I think she wanted 4 extra plastic bags. At least when I gave them to her, I then tried to figure out if I was to bow as many times as she did...or let her get the last one in.

"Yes, we take American money." "No, I can't tell you whether or not on your trip tomorrow you will definitely see _____. (the mountain, bears, wolves)" "While some cities and boroughs have a sales tax, the state of Alaska doesn't have one." "No, we're not part of your hotel, so we can't charge it to your room." "Restrooms are available at the Bake, or further up the hill at Canyon Market, or down at the gas station" "No, you won't see the northern lights of the conditions is that it has to be somewhat dark out."

But the only one that slightly frustrates me are the people that think the store is a garage sale, or a car dealership, or maybe a farmer's market. All from the same person: --I'll give you $2 for this...Me.."No, I do not have the authority to change the price on any item." --If I but 10 of these, how much can I get them for? Me.."I do not have the authority to change the price on any item."--This shirt is on sale for $5.99 but it isn't in medium, can I substitute this $14.99 second choice for the 5.99 price? Me.."No, I do not have the authority to change the price on any item." At checkout: --Instead of $25.95, can you round down to $25? Me.."No, I do not have the authority to change the price on any item." Then they pay with a $100 bill. But I give them the free fabric bag if they buy at least $25, and they're happy anyway.

I took my 10-minute break by heading to the gas station. Pepsi products are the least expensive on the strip there. And our store doesn't have a restroom. I came back and stayed at the cash register while Karissa did the store walk, rounder-fixing, power folding. Until our half-hour lunch breaks. Dane came from the Canyon store...the Denali Gift Co. store can get busy at anytime, so we like to keep two people there for any time longer than the 10s.

For my break I walked over to the Subway. Open 24 hours. But even though it's station has the $5 foot long ads playing, there is no such thing here. Foot longs run from $9 to $9.50. My later 10-minute I stopped by the Ice Cream shop, but they were busy, and I really didn't need that milkshake that was calling me.

After I got back from break, Karissa and I were both on registers for awhile. The it slowed to the point where she hit the T-shirt wall and I started to vacuum, both of us keeping an eye to where customers were located and the registers. After vacuuming, I closed one of the registers, she straightened the shotglasses and mugs and cards and books. The when we closed, she did the other cash register and I finished the rounders, making sure everything with zippers were zipped, everything facing the same direction and everything going from left to right--small to double x.

Then we checked out, locked up got in the van and headed home. I fixed myself a quick snack...the Canyon market deli had some General Tso's chicken I had in my fridge. Microwave is in the main lodge...with a satellite tv, and a couple of computer terminals for those without laptops. A couple of regular ovens too and some community dishes...we were each issued some pots and pans too when we arrived.

I went back to my cabin, checked my email. Thought about what I was going to write for this a little, then started. Now I'm going to find me some junk tv on hulu to watch before drifting off to sleep. Maybe some Pretty Little Liars, maybe some ALF...

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Comment by reggiecohen on July 14, 2010 at 4:34pm
i work at cabin night i can found out
Comment by Keith Larson on July 14, 2010 at 4:31pm
We might get discounts. I have the six-pack for the park shuttles. I think there might be something for Cabin Nite. I hate asking because our three gift stores don't give discounts to anyone else.
Comment by reggiecohen on July 14, 2010 at 4:13pm
i wish they did had the 5 doller footlong at subway ive seen the place where u work at but never visted yet have to check it out dont u get discounts with us at the chalets and some of the tours we do
Comment by Carol on July 14, 2010 at 3:27pm
I loved the Power Fold!
You did a great job with the day's discription, Keith. I could really visualize it.
Thanks for all the details. Yeah, the haggling!! Hilarious :D
Comment by Anneliese on July 12, 2010 at 11:37am
Enjoyed reading your post Keith!

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