10 Things You Should Know About Working in a National Park
1. You are cut off from civilization.
The first thing you will notice is that civilization is nowhere to be found. If you are in a location that is lucky enough to have cell phone service, that will be your only link to the outside world. You can usually get internet, but the hardware probably hasnt been updated since 2002. This can be one of the hardest parts, but also one of the best parts if you are trying to get away from a past life or have a warrant out for your arrest, like many of my former co-workers.
2. The food sucks
This is honestly the worst part of the experience. You get cafeteria style food that repeats itself every two weeks. They also use the same grease for just about everything on the menu so when you have a 4 month season, the food gets old QUICK. The worst part is it’s 100 miles to the closest fast food or Walmart so going out to eat means getting cup-noodles from the general store.
3. The work sucks.
The jobs suck. You’ll start out in an entry level position no matter what experience you have. The entry jobs are usually washing dishes, cleaning hotel rooms, or dishing out food to employees that entail picking up other peoples shit for less than shit pay. The higher paying jobs are reserved for people that keep coming back year after year. You’ll always be working more than you thought you would because your coworkers get fired and you have to pick up their shifts or the company just didn’t hire enough people to begin with. Either way, 80 hour weeks become the norm by the end of the season.
4. Everybody drinks.
I’m putting it lightly when I say “fish wish they could drink like these people”. Alcohol is what makes the national park system run and operate. If the streams and rivers are the blood, alcohol is the endocrine system(weed is the nervous system). Whether you work the next day or in the next 20 minutes, any person is up to drink a PBR or Rainier at any time of day. And at night the alcohol flows like the piss from a newborn; theres just no stopping it. Ever. At all. Don’t even try. Give up already.
5. Everybody smokes
Cigarettes. and weed also. some people crack too.
6. The company sucks.
You can get fired for looking at someone wrong. From 300 yards away. At night. And you’re blind. Yeah.
7. Everybody drinks.
The company owns the place the employees get alcohol so really all the money being made by the employees just goes right back into the company. Its kind of sad. But really, you are an outlier if you have less than 25 Black Velvet handles in your graveyard. Step your game up bro.
8. Everybody hooks up.
You can find your soul mate, but most likely you will lose your virginity in a drunken stupor to a guy with an unbuttoned flannel, one dread, and the mustache of a pedophile. Choose wisely.
9. You will most likely have a roommate.
For college students this isnt that big of a deal, but for the 28 year olds that didnt even go to college, this can make or break your season. If you meet someone that seems like you may be able to remotely get along with in the dining hall before rooms are assigned, be their roommate. Otherwise you’ll get a Chinese exchange student that doesnt wear deodorant and eats cup-noodles for every meal instead of the dining hall and your girlfriend for the season cant stand the smell so you have to hook up in her room but her roommate is always there for some reason and even when shes not the bed is really rickety anJUST MAKE IT THE FIRST GUY OK?!?!
10. The nature makes it all worth it.
The natural beauty of your environment makes it all worth it. You can go for a quick hike on one of the three trails right outside your dorm room or you can spend a weekend climbing a 14,000 ft peak. Or you can fish the streams and lakes after dinner. Or you can take a drive and see more wildlife than you have in the past 10 years combined. Or you can take a booze cruise on the employee motorboat for an afternoon. Or you can get up early and watch the sunrise on top of a small cliff with your girlfriend for the season. Or you can take star photography that rivals the professionals. Or you can sit around a campfire and drink with wolves howling in the background. Or you can soak in a natural hotspring for 3 hours. Or you can camp across from the Tetons and wake up to the greatest view in the country. Or you can open your dorm room window and let the freshest breeze roll in while watching Netflix 5 seconds at a time. The nature is what you come for, and the friendships are what you’ll leave with. I would recommend it to anybody.