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A funny thing happened on the way to Tower Fall.

Tower Fall, in Yellowstone Park.....back in 1969, my buddy Nake worked there for Hamilton Stores, while I worked in Hamilton's Mammoth Accounting Office. We were just passing through Yellowstone National Park when we saw a "Help Wanted" sign. We applied, and got jobs, and went on to have a great summer. Uh, the personal director (I don't think they really had a HR Department in those days) didn't seem to much care for us though, and told us there was no way he'd let us work in the same location.


Well, that summer came and went, and many more summers came and went, until I found myself back in Yellowstone Park in the summer of 2009, attending the 40th reunion of Mammoth YPSS and Ham's workers. I got to the park four days early, so I could reacquaint myself with the place. I must say, I was completely captivated again, just like forty years before. It was a great reunion, and a great vacation all together.


I started thinking, while in Yellowstone last summer, maybe I ought to come back again and work. Like a lot of people in my age bracket, I had lost my job. The company I worked for closed its doors and ceased doing business. After several months of looking for work, I had come to the conclusion that there was absolutely nothing in my career field for me. I had earned my living in a real estate related job. With that segment of the economy totally in the tank, maybe now was the time to go seasonal again. I'd never given much thought to the idea of retirement before, but like it or not, I was now retired (or maybe just unemployed...I really couldn't tell).


So, in Janaury of this year, I filled out a DNC on-line job application (found on a link here on CoolWorks, I might add), hit the send button, and commenced to wait. I might add, I also applied to two other employers in the Yellowstone area.


I guess about three weeks passed by, and I got a call from DNC asking if I was still interested. When I said I was, the lady from HR conducted my interview, and hired me. I would even get to go to Tower Fall, my stated choice. I was quite excited about it. An employment package soon followed in the mail, which I completed and sent back. In a fitting act of finality, I also received "thanks, but no thanks" letters from the other two places I had applied to.


Now, I had looked things over quite closely on my visit to Yellowstone in 2009. I also read the posts made here on Coolworks. I felt I knew what I was getting into. I even posted on a "where are you working this summer?" thread here, and because of it, was friended by several people both here and on FaceBook. I started getting things ready to go. I got my brother to commit to stay at my house during my absence. I bought a laptop computer, having noticed WiFi signs in Gardiner. Most other things people mentioned as necessary I already had.


Something started bothering me, though. The pay I would get, being minimal as it was, would work out fine for me, IF I was at home. The fact that I was going to have to get myself to and from the park, about 3,000 miles round trip, was really going to eat into that DNC paycheck. Also not lost on me was the fact that I was going to pay room and board in Yellowstone, while leaving a full larder back home, in my paid-for house.


I looked at things again, a little closer. It seemed like financially, I was going to take a bath. Complicating matters was the fact that I was drawing unemployment, at the top allowable rate in my state, which I would have to give up for the minimum wage job in Yellowstone. The unemployment rules being what they are here, I did not need to accept a job so far from home at such low pay, but if I did, I would need to re-apply, presumably in Wyoming, after the summer.


So I reluctantly decided to abort the Yellowstone mission. I called DNC and informed them I wasn't coming. I was better off staying home and hopefully finding a job of any kind, and in the meantime I could draw any remaining unemployment benefits. I was starting to pick up a few odd jobs here and there, and that was encouraging.


Spring passed by and summer started, and I was home. Those who had taken summer jobs didn't seem to be checking in all that much on Coolworks, perhaps in some cases because of limited computer connections. A few folks reported being disgruntled, their season jobs weren't what they expected. Others seemed to thrive on their summer adventures. I noticed reports coming in that the normal shrinkage expected in the summer work forces wasn't happening this year. Many places were overstaffed, and thus everybody was getting less hours than expected. I'd made a practical decision to stay home, and it was probably the right decision for me. It did kind of gnaw at me, though, that I didn't go back to Yellowstone. To top it off, I really wasn't finding much work at home either. Being at home, though, allowed me to hunker down, financially. I started bicycling as a was cheap, and good for me. I accepted the fact that I really wasn't at the right point in life yet to take a season job.


As a postscript, I'll add this.


In the middle of August, I got a job in my old career field. It was really a pleasent surprise...I was still wanted! Its only part time, with absolutely no benefits, but moneywise, it works for me. I guess I can say I've found my niche...I'm semi-retired.


So will I ever get back to Yellowstone to work again? I don't really know at this point. I'd like to go back this summer on vacation again. I have couple of financial obligations that will end in the next couple of years, and that might be enough to send me west for a summer again, not as a brash 21 year old with his life ahead of him, but now as a of those folks we used to kind of laugh at in 1969.





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Comment by Connie on November 2, 2010 at 10:04pm
I am so very glad that you wrote this and updated us on what was going on. I wondered what was going on, but felt it such a personal thing that I couldn't ask. I can totally relate to all that you are saying. It is such a tough decision when you weigh it all out. I still would like to be back in Yellowstone for another summer, but knowing what I know now, I think the right decision for me is to go to Yellowstone as a visitor rather than worker... It is one of those things where you sometimes just have to say "Been there, done that, and have the Tee Shirt!" But your heart wants to go back again and again!
Comment by Stir on October 28, 2010 at 6:26pm
My head overruled my heart on this one, something that seems to happen with more regularity the older I get.

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