Why do people need to lie?

I will never understand why people need to lie.  In my other life I was a Realtor for 30 years, and during that time I sold many homes to many happy people and never had to lie, to make the sale.  If I knew of a defect in the house I would disclose it, as a matter of fact, would try to find the defects, and would either negotiate the repair of the defect or try to get a satisfactory price reduction, to make my client happy, or find them another home.

In my current life I am a full time workamper and take jobs for a full hook-up site, or FHU and salary, which most of the time is minimum wage.  I do not lie on my resume, on my work history, and have permission from anyone on my references.

The information that I receive from prospective employers is a horse of another color!  As an example;

About 6 months ago I talked to the National Supervisors about a position as Activity Directors at a “Theme Park´ (which will remain nameless), for my husband and myself, I was told that:

  1. They just finished a 5 million dollar Rec Center (the operative word here is finished).
  2. We would be co-directors (we assumed that there was another couple to share the work load, not so, we are it).
  3. Our salary was $2500.00 A month and FHU (Full Hook UP for RV) and propane at ½ price.
  4. We would have a staff to schedule the work.
  5. They would like us to arrive a month early so that we could get familiar with the “program”.

So far this is what we found when we arrived nearly a month early:

The manager was new and did not know we would be on salary and we would have to work for site which was 9 hrs. each.  When we told her 9 hours was not enough time to get ready and that we were supposed to be on salary, she had to “check on it”.  We were finally told that starting Saturday we would indeed be on salary.  So we either had to cool our heels at our site or go the work gratis.

Seeing the disarray of the Rec building, the tee shirts, and the ceramics, we opted to go to work.

BTW the 5 million dollar Rec Center was not completed- no Wi-Fi for us to work with, no computers, and our “office” is not finished, and has a trench through the middle of the floor, also there is no telephone.  There are no other directors; my husband and I are it!!!

On our own time we inventoried all of the ceramics, tee shirts and kitchen supplies and put all of them on spread sheets on our own computers.  There was no inventory available and certainly no spread sheets.

Our staff consisted of us for a week, until we begged for another couple that was also waiting to go to work in the store.  They were assigned to us and between us we prepared all the paints for painting the ceramics by manually shaking all the gallon cans and marking the colors of each one, labeling and filling all the under stock paints and the small containers for everyday use.  We moved the ceramics and tee shirts into the new area of the rec center from the old area, cleaned the kitchen, and cleaned the tables and set up for the Sunday morning breakfast that we were also in charge of.   We also had to hunt and peck for whom to order supplies from, have managed to find all of the vendor’s telephone numbers and have ordered supplies for all or part of the year.

It seemed like every day a new task has been  assigned and when we asked where was the information on previous years so we would have a track to run on we were told to “make it up as we go along”.  That is what we have been doing, but do not know how long we can take the disorganization.  We set-up all the activities for a month on the very slow Wi-Fi and program and was told it was wrong and needed to do it different!   I do not have time to putz with the program now and will get around to it when I can, otherwise someone else can change it.

We are responsible for cleaning the Rec room and taking out the trash, wash and drive the Train and Fire Truck (either us or one of our many workers) around the park on a weekly basis.  In addition we have three costumed characters that we have to have all three out every day (one at a time).

The final straw that is breaking the camel’s back was delivered last week, when we were told that we were responsible for mowing our own site.  Most of us RV’ers do not carry lawn equipment with us and a Full Hook-up site means it is provided without us having to mow.  Maintenance was told they could only mow our sites on their own time.

We now have another couple coming to work this week and were told that they have three more people that we can call in to work.  Must be the new math, because, that doesn’t sound like ten people.

We are looking for another job and will have to leave just like most of the other people have done in the past.  It seems that this park has a reputation of going through people fast.

Just for the record, I do not like to leave a job until the end of our contract, however, what RV Parks/Resorts needs to understand about “Workampers” is that we are independent contractors, and we are on wheels!  Most of us are retired or “just tired” and are not slaves or indentured servants and we work most of the time for minimum wage.

Employers should feel lucky to have us work for them!  We do many of the jobs that they could not get anyone else to do.  And sometimes we feel like they think that the site that we get is a big perk.  We more than earn that little piece of dirt with water, sewer, and electricity!

The funny thing is even if they told us the absolute truth we might have taken the job, and would have stuck it out until the end, and smiled all the time, because we are honorable people.

And they are always glad you came

Remember the song from the TV show Cheers?

That’s what it felt like when we visited our RV friends at Leisure Valley RV Park and Butterfield RV Resort and Observatory was sorry we had to leave. We got lots of hugs, with everyone asking where we were off to this time.

When we got to Leisure Valley, we parked in a pull-through up front in the nightIy spots and didn’t even unhook the White Knight; Sir Fit. It was a blast to play Bocce again with Juanita & Tim, Jack & Carol, Bob, Elmer and all the other friends.  We also enjoyed the “Happy Hours” and the “Redheaded Slut” drinks!  Just saying!

The Hot Tub was wonderful and hated to leave it.  The night all us “girls” spent in it gabbing was great fun.

Had fun playing bingo; Shirl won a game!! But all too soon our time to leave came and we had to head down the road.

When we got to Butterfield, we parked in a pull-through, but unhooked Sir Fit from Dolly Part-On, as we wanted to do a little sight-seeing.  The last time we were at Butterfield we didn’t have a car. Larry and Kathy were nice enough to take us to Tombstone and to watch the Cranes land in the Marsh south of the Park.  This time we went to Bisbee and took the Queen Mine tour.  That was very interesting and a little cool.  It is 47 degrees in the mine and it is an hour tour.  We rode (thank you) trams down into the mine and saw much of the equipment that the miners worked with and our guide had worked in that mine.  Those miners were strong men-the drills weighted over 200 lbs.

We visited with Clara, even though she was just getting over a cold.  We also played games and visited with everyone as much as we could and got lots of hugs.  Clara and Tom are heading off on an around the US trip and hope we meet up with them again.

We played Bridge Saturday morning and Texas Hold’Em one evening.  I only lost 50 cents.  We watched Clara do some make-up Wii bowling and went out for Pizza with Larry, Kathy, Steve, and Diane one night.

We also watched the Super Bowl and had a great time cheering for the Sea Hawks.  We must have cheered enough as they really whipped the Broncos!!! Also ate tons of good food while relaxing in our chairs that Shirl carried up to the Rec Hall.   Was great to see them finally come into their own and get the recognition that they deserve.

Our White Knight (Sir Fit) loved getting out on the road and made great mileage (36MPG) as he knew he would be hooked up on Dolly Part-on behind Miranda for the rest of the trip to Texas.  He really strutted his stuff!   Miranda and Dolly was real proud of him.

The road trips are always fun.  Sitting in our fish bowl front window seats we can see all the scenery as we speed (55 MHP) by.  This trip it was interesting to see the frost on the trees that made them look like they had lace on them when we got into Texas.  BTW remember the song “Waltzing across Texas”? Well it would have been a long dance.  I-10 is a long stretch on road that seems like it goes on forever and we remarked once or twice that it is miles and miles of nothing by miles and miles.  Still it is beautiful country and the roads were very good.  And very little construction!  Yeah! Many times on our trips we find construction and in some places, they have a desperate need for it.

As it turned out, we probably should have stayed a couple days longer as we encountered several days of cooold weather.  In Ft. Stockton the water pipes were frozen and we had to go into the restrooms to get some drinking water.  We pulled into Kerrville KOA, because there was a lot of fog or haze up ahead of us and our smart phones suggested we get off the road.  The nice man (owner of the park) came out with a big bucket of hot water and thawed out the faucet to let us fill up our water containers for the refrigerator.  We then unhooked the water, drained the hose and used our fresh water from our holding tank to take showers.

Well we got here at Lone Star Jellystone RV Park and are starting to get organized.  Stay tuned for more adventures on the road.

Big Brother technology is watching out for you Sister

Just when you thought technology was at its apex, along comes the iBag for shopaholics!  That’s right now you can buy a handbag that will stop you from overspending by going on a shopping spree.  It will actually lock so you can’t open it to get your handy dandy credit card and further it will alert your partner (which can be anyone of your choosing) that you are in danger and are on the prowl at a mall or your favorite shopping spot.

The company says “tongue in cheek” that women are more likely to use their credit cards to over shop and not pay off the balance at the end of the month.  Duh!  Could it be because the disparity between the salaries women can earn to the amount that men can earn is still far apart? They are developing a male version.  But don’t hold your breath that it will be locking to prevent him for shopping.  I could not find a site where it is available at the present time, but rest assured the iBag is on its way.

I did find an iWallet designed for men that houses credit cards and cash that is supposed to protect credit card info from being stolen by credit card thieves.  Interesting enough site where I found both of these showed styles, a place to “like” on social networking sites, and a shopping cart, but alas, no pricing.  So I did what I always do and clicked on the “buy” button and checked out the prices.  It also showed $100.00 dollar bills in the money holder.  The lowest priced iWallet was $269.00.  However, could not find a pricing for the Ladies locking purse.  Wanna guess the price? And you bet it can be put on your handy dandy Credit Card.

Ladies save your money and your sanity and cut up your credit cards and get a Debit card.  Now you can only spend the money you actually have, and no big bills at the end of the month.

Ah Yes 2013 was a great year.

We spent the winter in North Phoenix RV Park volunteering to be Activity Directors which meant that we did the things that we love to do.  Plan Parties, Pot Lucks, and Theme Dinners and breakfasts.  We must have done it well as people threatened to disable our RV so we couldn’t leave.  We got a lot of hugs and lots of “will you be back next year?” and “you throw a heck of a party, thanks!”

In early spring we were offered and accepted a Workamper Job with the Mt. Rushmore History Association as Cashiers at the Book Stores in Keystone, SD.  We were to arrive on May 1st for our first day of work. We arrived close to Keystone in a snow storm so bad that we not only had second thoughts about the job, but were not sure where we were.  We saw a sign for Custer’s Gulch RV Park and pulled in.  The people at the office were very nice and let us stay the night even though they were not open for the season.  The season is quite short in South Dakota, as you can imagine. The next morning we woke to a winter wonderland, the ground was covered with about 3 or 4 inches of snow.  It started melting and was gone by the next day.

We were offered, an RV space, contracted by the Historical Society for $1.25 an hour for each of us deducted from our pay.  We chose to get our own site and pay for it and keep the $1.25.  As it turned out it was to our advantage, as the first week one of the workampers wives was taken to the hospital and was out of commission for several weeks, so we volunteered to work overtime which meant we worked 6 days a week and did grocery shopping and Laundry in our day off.  By the time she could come back to work and we were back on 5 days a week we were exhausted, but considerably richer as the most we paid for our site and electric was about $400.00 a month.  She returned to work and finished her contract and by the time we left she looked in good health.

We decided on Holy Smoke RV Park (very few RV Parks or Resorts are open until the 15th of May).  Holy Smoke RV Park was basically a site with full hook-up with no amenities except deer and wild turkeys,   sometimes right next to our Motor Home.  Several times, we had to wait for them to get out of the road to get out of the park.  We also learned to drive down the mountain at night with our high beams on, as the deer crossed the road at their leisure, and we heard that there is at least one deer hit every year.  The owner also owned the Holy Smoke Restaurant just a short climb up the hill from the park and served Buffalo Steaks. YUM YUM!! BTW Buffalo steaks or burgers have to be cooked rare or medium rare or it is like shoe leather!  Hard to imagine that something that good is actually good for you.

The nearest Walmart was in Rapid City about 30 miles and Laundry was in Hill City about 12 miles away.  Red Rover loved the drive as it was all four lane highway.  During the tourist season as you can imagine, the prices go up exponentially with the arrival of tourists; everything gets more expensive in Keystone than we were willing to pay.   We discovered a great place to do laundry!  In Hill City there is a Gas Station/Deli/Laundry/Casino on the main street!  You did see that there was a Casino, right?  Well, most of the time while our clothes were drying we played a little.  We won enough money most of the time to pay not only for our Laundry, but to drive to Rapid City and pay for our weeks groceries.  We are not real serious gamblers, if we win with our $10.00 we stay, if not we leave.  The first week we went to Rapid City for groceries and Gas we stopped at a little Casino call Jokers, and I walked out with $148.00.  We didn’t win all the time, but was fun when we did.

Cashiering is not difficult.  Learning the somewhat antiquated computer system was somewhat of a challenge, when in the middle of a very large order the computer shut down, we sweat a little trying to remain calm; smiling when we had to “reboot” and start all over again, while keeping people from charging like angry Rhinos to get their purchases rang up so they could catch their tour buses, or just get on with their tour.  Sometimes we just wanted to say “Calm down, you are on vacation”! We understood no one loves to stand in line, but” we could only do what we could do”.

We worked in one of three stores, but rarely the same on two days in a row.  As you enter the park through the big Granite arches on the right is the Information Center which is manned or womaned by a Ranger or two when the busy season started and a small book store.  They also rent (for FREE) wheelchairs! Directly across the Granite walkway is the Audio Tour building where you can rent Audio Wands to hear information about what you are seeing and about the park.  On either side of the Audio Tour building, in huge letters is sign for the Mens and Ladies Rooms.  Several times a day a frantic vacationer would come in, interrupt another customer and say “Where’s the restrooms”, after a few weeks on the job we would just point with a smile across the walkway.

As you walk up the 200 yard Granite walkway you will see a bust of Gutzon Borglund, the sculptor on the left, and on the right is a plaque that has all of the 400 workers names.   The amazing thing to me is that he scouted the Black Hills on horseback for weeks to find this mountain.  He looked at it and decided that it would be perfect.  He didn’t have any of the modern technologies to ascertain that it could be sculpted, I say sculptured for want of a better word!  BTW 90% of the sculpting was done with dynamite.  When the guys first started working with the dynamite, they complained of headaches, when they started wearing gloves the headaches stopped. One of the ingredients in the Dynamite is Nitro Glycerin.

Btw, there were minor accidents in sculpting the mountain, but no one lost their lives, and it cost less than a million dollars.  By today’s rules and regulations, it could not have been done.  Most of the workers were mine workers, so were familiar with the tools and the concept.

As you continue up the walkway, there is a huge gift shop on the left and a restaurant on the right. As you continue up to the sculptures, lined with granite pillars with a flag of each of the states and several provinces.  At this point; if you are not awed by the spectacle of the magnificent faces, just wait until you get to the Grand View Terrace!  You can look at “the guys” (as we called them) through the Viewers or just take tons of pictures.  Many times I took visitors (point and shoot) cameras and took pictures of them with the faces as a background.  We are probably in hundreds of pictures just going to and from work.

You may see several White Mountain Goats just walking in the park and feeding.  As many times as we tell people that they are not tame, photography enthusiasts try to get close and sometime try to get a picture of themselves beside a goat or worse, a picture of their kids beside or on the back of a goat. One of the Rangers jobs is to protect the visitors from themselves and their enthusiasm!  The goats are not indigenous to the area.  A brilliant bureaucrat decided that it would be great to have several on display for visitors to Custer State Park and had nice large fenced arena built just for them.  Guess what? He forgot that they are Mountain Goats and can climb!  They promptly got out and went up into the mountains never to be rounded up.  They multiplied and you may see them along side of the road and if you climb on the mountains.   As a matter of fact sometimes looking through binoculars you will spot them on the Presidents heads.

Now that you are at Grand View terrace you will not only see the faces but looking down you can see the open auditorium with the stage.  You can take two flights of stairs down or the elevator to the main floor to the Ranger Station, the largest Book Store, the Borglum Museum, Movie Theaters, and more bathrooms.   When you look out through the full wall windows you will see the Sculptures.  Every night there is a patriotic presentation with a movie and all the past and present Veterans are invited up on the stage for the flag lowering.  I have seen the Rangers make special arrangements for dis-abled Veterans to get to the stage.  It is very moving and most people have tears in their eyes and sometimes just telling tourists about it we get a little misty eyed.

If you are into hiking there is the Presidents Trail that goes as close as you can get to the mountain and down to the Sculptures Studio.  At the Sculptures Studio, there is a “Ranger talk” several times a day. The studio was actually used by Gutzon and there is a 1/12 the size model of the faces on the mountain.  I have taken many pictures of people in front of them.  Another side light, when you got down to the Sculpture’s Studio the only way back to Grand View Terrace is a lot of steps  or back up the Presidents trail.  The Sculpture’s Studio does not have a public restroom, however about half way up the steps there is one. I worked there a lot and that was the hardest thing to say no to people.  Sometimes people got down there and realized that they could not climb the stairs and we called the rangers to arrange transportation back.  Several times we have had to call the Rangers to come get people that collapsed from the strain and lack of water.  We have a fountain at the Sculpture’s Studio, but no water for sale.  The Rangers could make arrangements for handicapped to drive down, but because there was a very small parking lot it could not be open to the public.  I climbed the stairs once and that was enough! When I worked down there and Shirl worked up at the top, I dropped him off and drove down.  There is an electronic gate that our badges would open.  I felt a little guilty, but we got enough walking just getting to work, we lost about 30 lbs each.

We were asked to invite people to purchase a yearly membership in the Historical Society.  They got a 15% discount in all book stores in any National Park in the US and 10% at the other concessions by Zanterra. They cost $30.00 for individual membership, or $50.00 for family membership which gave them two cards and 2 audio tours.  We received a credit for the sales of them and at the end of the contract we were given gift cards, the value of which depended on how many memberships we sold.  We really enjoyed spending them when we got back to Phoenix.

We were given a VIP card and one of the History Society cards that got us into many of the things to see in the Black Hills, and we did as much sight-seeing as we had time for.  Look on facebook and as time permits I am putting albums on of the attractions that we had time to visit.  We really enjoyed our time in South Dakota.  The scenery is beautiful and the people are friendly and the air is fresh and clean.  If you haven’t visited this area, you should put it on one of your must do’s!