Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I once was a visitor center lady, oh, what people say.

The mill closed in March of 94, so after almost 15 years of working to support his family Poppie found himself with out a job.  We knew as a family we didn't want to leave the area, I don't know if it was the right choice on all levels but it was our choice and in the end probably the choice that God wanted us to make.  I found myself volunteering at the local DPHHS office, I was required to do it for several months a couple times a day, but anyone that knows me knows I usually don't do things half way.  I ended up doing it five days a week for about nine months.  I used that time I spent as a spring board on my resume to get the fair board secretary job and then the manager of the St. Regis visitor center job.  I spent nearly 15 months working there.  It was a good job, it could be warp speed and joyous, it could be long hours of true loneliness and it could be fun.  I can't say it was one of my favorite jobs but it had it's moments. I would say in hindsight, it was much like the job I had at the sheriff's office. I loved the people I serviced, and missed them when I was gone, I wouldn't return to the politics of the job for anything.

I with joy look back almost 20 years later to the people.  One day I was in the reception desk area when a young couple came in, they looked like they had had enough of traveling and appeared tire.  That will be the focal part of many of the remembrances I will recall, vacating makes you tire, cranky and on edge sometimes.  My most important job at the center was to be up for the visitor and get them excited about their visit to our state, a very tiring job let me tell you, I digress.  Anyway this young couple came in and walked to the desk they took out two maps.  They showed me the map of Rhode Island, where they were from, and then they took out the map of Montana.  The young man says we have been traveling for several days and we are still in Montana.  I looked at him and smiled as he continued,  He said look at these two maps they are the same size and back home I can plan a day trip that goes half way across the map and then be home in several hours.  We have been traveling all this time and still haven't gotten as far in that time as we can go on a day trip back home.  I looked at him in amazement, what did he want me to say?  How was I supposed to explain that maps were all the same sizes and states weren't.  I finally decided to try I said as I pointed at the North Dakota board with one hand and the Idaho board with the other, it is nearly seven hundred miles from here to here.  See this county as I pointed to Mineral county, the county we were in, this is the size of Rhode Island.  I still don't know after all these years if they really didn't know that the states weren't the same size or if it was the exhaustion of the trip had finally set in.  It was funny and I did remember not to laugh until they left on the way to finding where they were going.

One day a young man came in with his son,  you could tell he was being a heroic dad and showing his son the world on a grand scale.  They decided to sit down and take in one of the tourist movies of Montana.  I watched as the dad explained to the boy the different things that came up on the movie, as he saw them.  Shortly into the movie there was a scene of a ewe mountain sheep grazing along the road near the Thompson falls area.  The fathers says "son look, look there is a baby buffalo."  I looked, thought for just a moment about correcting his gaffe, then thought the better of it, no he-man wants some receptionists to correct them when they are instructing their son.  Shortly there after they left,  I do wonder if that poor little boy still thinks that buffalo calves are female sheep?  I can't count the times when I had to explain in the fall to the granola types that "no, the pollution from Zootown didn't come up the valley and kill all our trees.  No, that happens every year it is the tamarack loosing their needles, they are the only needled trees that shows glorious color and looses their leaves like deciduous trees.  They would look and me and think I might be covering something up but some did come around to the belief that I might be telling the truth.  One time a young lady came in, she had stopped along the road and picked a fountain drink cup of berries.  She was so excited as she came in the door she wanted to show me her prize and get my glowing praise at her accomplishment.  She said "look I picked huckleberries" as she popped one into her mouth.  I looked in her cup and said, "those aren't huckleberries" she spit the berries in her mouth on the floor and gasp "What are they? are they poisonous?"  I said "no, they are just June berries, they grow everywhere.  They are definitely not huckleberries and nowhere as good."  I did tell her where she might go to pick actually huckleberries.  One couple came in on day and the exasperated man said, "where is the next real town, atleast

I did love the time I spend with the visitors, one and all, as I did helping the people on 911 calls and later on at the helpline.  I don't think their is a more worthy profession than one that allows you to help people.  I am not saying that there weren't exasperating times when I wanted to say "what are you thinking?" or much worse, but I did love the people and the things they said, needed or the chance to really help and make a difference..... tomorrow.

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