This was meant to be posted over two weeks ago, so the time references that appear are dated. There is a sorry lack of WiFi where I live, so I’ve learned I have to be in an area with a stronger signal to work on WordPress. I will adjust accordingly.
I arrived in western Wyoming May 25. By now I’ve settled into my cabin—the same one I was in last year—at base of the Grand Tetons, my home for over four months. It’s always interesting arriving here, meeting the new roommate, getting to know my new co-workers from around the world. This experience is so much different from the first time I came here in 2009, and I’m enjoying the comfort that comes from familiarity. I have great empathy for those stepping into a new situation.
Here we are, all thrown together. Over the course of the first four days, our goal was to learn our jobs and open the lodge for the season on May 30. It’s intense—especially for those who aren’t used to being away from home. But eventually it all comes together, and inside of our first three weeks, we managed to form both social and workplace bonds. We’re all in this together.
I like the part about getting to know people. For me, it’s gradual—a conversation in the women’s bath house or on a road trip to town; post dinner talks in the employee cafeteria, hanging around the campfire or riding shotgun on a bar run. There are all sorts of small occasions to get to know one another. There are more “older” people to keep me company here this year. To qualify as “older,” one has to be mid-40s. Admittedly, my peers are not all that interesting. Not when compared to the 20-something set. Now that’s interesting.
No time to lose
The young crew, many fresh out of college and with varying degrees of work experience, seem to have their own language for getting to know one another. Night after night they gather outside various cabins, drink beers or vodka or Capt. Morgan, sit around the campfire and talk. They’ll hit town for Whiskey Wednesday, swing dance at the Cadillace or caravan to neighboring lodge bars. They size each other up and … the mating game begins.
In keeping with my past two years here, the boys and girls are generally paired off by the third week. This is risky business: hooking up with someone you’re living and working with. But it’s inevitable. Cute kids stuck in the same remote place for four and a half months. It’s a charged atmosphere. They have to move fast because they don’t want to be the last one standing. Not everyone gets chosen and I wonder how that feels. Actually, I remember exactly how that feels.
One young man I know from last year asked me to put in a good word about him to one of my teammates. But it appears he’s lost ground to a rival. By now it has become more obvious—who’s pairing up with whom. Or who longs for whom. Or who’s teasing whom.
There will be the drunken “mistakes” and subsequent awkwardness when they see each other at work. But somehow, this annual rite of spring works itself out. Despite the Peyton Place this employee village has a tendency to become, I’ve never witnessed any big dramas that had a serious impact (in an earlier year, though, it came close to a melt-down that was thankfully avoided).
This is a good thing. Because we’re all in this together—in our little community of 20-30-40-50-60-somethings in the mountains.
My soundtrack today: “New York City” by Mason Jennings.