Kokopelli

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Virginia was Native American. Her mother was from the local pueblo, and her father was from a pueblo to the west. Virginia was in her 50s but dressed like a teenager. She was fond of shoes with high heels and a t-shirt emblazoned with the face of Marilyn Monroe. She painted her full lips bright red and wore big hoops in her ears.

I met Virginia at the Bridge, where she was friendly and outgoing toward the tourists and other vendors. Hi guy! she’d say with a big smile to male strangers as they passed her table. Where are you from? she’d chitchat with tourists who stopped to see her wares.

Virginia sold a variety of items she said she made herself, as well as crafts she said were made by members of her family. She sold jewelry—necklaces and bracelets and sometimes earrings too—made from turquoise and copper, variscite, and hematite, and other semiprecious stones. She sold knives with handles inlaid with stone or carved from bone. Sometimes she sold soft dolls sewn to look like Diné women, and she usually had horsehair pottery on her table.

Horsehair pottery was a popular item at the Bridge. It was sold by Native American vendors as well as by white folks and members of the local old Spanish families. The selling of horsehair pottery crossed all boundaries of Northern New Mexico race, ethnicity, and language.

Tourists loved the pottery, which is why so many vendors wanted it on their tables. Anyone selling horsehair pottery had a shot at making a sale even on a slow day. Lots of tourists want to be able to show off to the folks back home the Native crafts they acquired on vacation.

The majority of any piece of horsehair poetry was off-white in color. Designs in black decorated the off-white background. During my time at the Bridge, I saw pots decorated with Native American-style bears (for strength and power, Virginia always said), hummingbirds, Kokopelli, turtles, and buffalo. When the pots were in the kiln and the temperature inside was incredibly hot, the artist would open the door to the oven and throw in horsehair. The horsehair would land on the pots, leaving black lines on the plain portions as well as on the designs. The random falling of the horsehair and the subsequent unplanned patterns of the black lines left behind made each pot unique. Of course, while buying a handmade craft is important to many visitors to any region, acquiring something unique is usually even better. No wonder horsehair pottery seemed to fly off vendors’ tables and into the hands of shoppers.

I don’t know where Virginia acquired her horsehair pots. I don’t think she was making them. But from what old-timers at the Bridge told me, when she and her ex were still together, they were a horsehair pottery production team. They’d produce the pots, paint the designs, then throw on the horsehair while the pots fired in the oven. Virginia was capable of making the pots I saw on her table even if someone else was actually doing the work. 

One morning at the Bridge Virginia parked next to where I was already set up and started pulling out her tables. Spending a day next to Virginia was fine with me. She was pleasant to be around and was always good for the latest Bridge vendor gossip.

In the early afternoon a (seemingly) white, (seemingly) heterosexual couple approached Virginia’s table. There were no customers at my table, so there was nothing to distract me from listening to the conversation next door.

The visitors looked at all of the merchandise Virginia had for sale, but lingered over the horsehair pottery. Virginia told them all about the pottery. She explained how the horsehair was tossed into the hot kiln and fell randomly onto the pots. The tourists seemed impressed. They looked at all the designs Virginia was offering that day and settled on one with an image of Kokopelli painted on it.

For those of you who don’t know, according to IndigenousPeople.net, Kokopelli is…

a Hopi word
meaning (roughly) wooden-backed; most of the familiar depictions of Kokopelli are copied from Hopi art, which in turn is derived from ancient Anasazi glyphs.

Known as a fertility god, prankster, healer and story teller, Kokopelli has been a source of wonder throughout the country for centuries. Kokopelli embodies the true American Southwest, and dates back over 3,000 years ago… Although his true origins are unknown, this traveling, flute-playing Casanova is a sacred figure to many Southwestern Native Americans.

I took this photo of Kokopelli adorning a local business. I don’t think the local business was a fertility clinic.

The couple told Virginia they would take the pot with the painting of Kokopelli on it. Money was handed over. Virginia pulled out the bubble wrap and tape so she could protect the pot for its journey to its new home.

When the wrapping was nearly complete Virginia mentioned that some people consider Kokopelli a fertility symbol. I’m sure she intended this information to be just one more little tidbit to make the pot more interesting to the couple. Virginia had no way of knowing she’d just shot herself in the foot.

What? the tourist woman asked sharply.

Virginia repeated that some people see Kokopelli as a fertility symbol.

I can’t give this to my 16 year old daughter! the woman huffed. She decided she didn’t want the pot after all. Sadly, there was nothing else on Virginia’s table she wanted instead.

No problem, Virginia told the woman, but I could tell she was disappointed by the loss of the sale. She handed the woman’s money back and said flatly, I hope you find something you like better.

Why the couple didn’t pick out a different pot, I don’t know. Maybe they feared turtles and bears and hummingbirds and buffalo were also secret fertility symbols. In any case, the transaction with Virginia was over.

I sat behind my table and tried not to laugh in disbelief. Did the woman really think having a pot with an image of Kokopelli on it was going to increase her daughter’s chances of getting pregnant? Did she think Kokopelli was going to magically hop off the pot in the night and knock up her daughter? Did she refuse to allow her daughter to participate in Maypole dances and Easter egg hunts?

I just shook my head and felt sorry for Virginia’s loss.

Grumpy

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When the temperature climbs above 83 degrees in the mountain town where I work, locals and tourist alike get grumpy. I know we’re all here for the cool mountain air, and at the first hint of heat, people seem unhappy. I’m not even sure people understand the correlation between the temperature and their mood, but I see it clearly from behind the bulletproof glass that surrounds me in the fuel center kiosk where I work. As soon as I hear people complaining about the heat, I know other complaints are sure to follow.

It took me a while to figure out what was going on during the first really hot Saturday of the season. Customers seemed a little off, but I was ok in my climate-controlled kiosk with the a/c set to a cool 65 degrees. Sometimes customers felt a puff of cool air escape for the drawer through which we exchanged money and merchandise. Several commented that I must be nice and cool in there. Oh, yes I was! That air conditioner is one of the few perks of the job.

Early in the afternoon, the first person I noticed in a bad mood was a woman I’m friendly with outside of work. When I told her the amount of her loyalty card reward discount on fuel, she snapped, Aren’t our fuel points doubled on the weekend?

No one had given me any information on fuel point promotion, but I’d gleaned some info from being a customer of the store and from the loop of in-store advertisements projected over the public address system.

You don’t get double the discount out here, I explained to my friend. I think you earn double points on the things you buy in the store, but you might need a digital coupon.

I had a digital coupon, she said sharply. It expired in May!

Yeah, I shrugged. I had that coupon too.

Our transaction ended, and she stomped off.

Note to self: Get more information on fuel point promotions.

People continued to seem short-tempered throughout the afternoon, but the next major grumpiness occurred around 3:30 as I came back from my break. The woman covering the fuel center while I ate my lunch met me at the kiosk and told me the girl at pump 2 is trying to pump diesel and was having some trouble. I told her I don’t know anything about diesel, my relief said. I told her I’d go outside and try to help the woman.

Earlier in the day, there’d been a problem pumping diesel on pump 3.  I wondered if the problems were somehow related.

When I got to pump 2, I recognized the woman standing there as someone I’d sold fuel to several times in the last few weeks. She and I had always been calmly polite to each other, but she was neither calm nor polite on this afternoon. She demanded to know why pump 2 wasn’t giving up the diesel. She didn’t seem pleased when I told her I wasn’t sure. I mentioned we’d had the same problem with pump 3 earlier in the day, but she didn’t want to hear anything that wasn’t directly related to getting diesel into her car’s tank.

I tried pumping the diesel (thinking maybe she had made some mistake that kept the fuel from flowing), but had no more success than she had.

The woman was growing increasingly frantic. Was she just tired of being frustrated at the fuel center? Was she late for work? Was she anxious because she was on her way to a hot date? I don’t know. I didn’t ask, although her patience was decreasing by the second.

Diesel was working on pump 1 earlier…I mused. I was thinking about the bigger picture. First pump 3 wouldn’t disperse diesel and now pump 2 was having the same problem. Were the problems related? Would pump 1 develop the same problem? What if I told the woman to go to pump 1 and it wouldn’t give her diesel?

Just tell me where to go! she screeched. Just tell me where to go!

I figured I’d better send her to pump 1 and plan to deal with any fallout that resulted in its failure to deliver diesel. I directed her to pump 1 and scurried back into the kiosk. When I was safely in the kiosk, I looked out the window and saw the woman pumping her precious diesel. I definitely breathed a sigh of relief.

The next day I ended up in town a couple of hours before my work shift started. I went to a coffee shop to work on my blog during this precious free time. When I walked through the front door, there was the upset diesel lady calmly working on her laptop.

I wondered if there was anything I could say to chastise her for her behavior the previous day. I decided it was best to hold my tongue. Miss Manners says it’s improper to meet rudeness with more rudeness, and I’m sure the company I work for would not approve of me chastising customers, even on my own time.

What I wanted to whisper in her ear is a good reminder to me.

It’s a small town. Be careful who you’re rude to because you’re likely to see that person again, maybe even the next day.

Job Leads for Nomads in the U.S.A.

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White Vehicle Traveling on Road

The #1 question I encounter in Facebook groups for vandwellers, rubber tramps, and vagabonds is some variation of What do folks do for money while living a nomadic life? In the past, I’ve tried to answer this question by sharing information about getting work at campgrounds, house and pet sitting jobs, participating in clinical drug trials, and picking up temporary work.

Recently in one of the Facebook groups for vandwellers that I’m a member of, I ran across a great list posted by a woman named Jamie Fox. She called the list “Some Links for Working While on the Road,” and it consisted of links to websites nomads can use to find work. I contacted Jamie immediately and asked if I could share the list with my readers. I was delighted when she said yes.

Of course, I’m not going to give you a list of links and leave it at that. I

Person Holding And Showing 100 Dollar Bills From Leather Wallet

researched the links on the list Jamie posted and made sure each one took me to an actual website. I also found the name of the website each link represented, and looked at what kinds of jobs were listed. During my research, I found other helpful websites; I’ve also included those as well as some I’d heard of or written about in the past.

I’m not going to say this list is complete, but it is the most comprehensive list of job leads for nomads I’ve ever seen. From camp host to beet harvest and everything in between, I present to you lots of ideas for making money while living on the road.

Warning: Neither Blaize Sun nor Jamie Fox are vouching for any of the companies or websites on this list. We’re only telling you what these companies and websites say about themselves. You are responsible for your own self. Do your own research before you pay any money or accept any job offer.

White Green and Black Outdoor Tent

Campground and RV Park Jobs Probably the most well-known work camping job is the camp host. The following companies do hire camp hosts, but some also hire folks to do other jobs that keep the campgrounds running smoothly.

American Land & Leisure is “a private contractor that cares for over 400 National Forest, Pacific Gas & Electric and State Park campgrounds throughout the United States,” and hires campground workers.

California Land Management hires camp hosts and other support personnel to work in campgrounds in California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Nevada.

The Rocky Mountain Recreation Company website says the company hires camp hosts, maintenance personnel, retail clerks, landscapers, day use area workers, and interpretive personnel.

Hoodoo Recreation hires camp hosts, attendants, and mangers to work in the Wenatchee and Gifford Pinchot National Forests in Washington.

Scenic Canyons Recreational Services hires people for campground jobs. Their website specifically mentions Workampers.

Recreation Resource Management “provides private operations management for public parks…[The company] operate[s] campgrounds and other recreation facilities in the US Forest Service, for state parks agencies, and for many other government parks and recreation agencies. Almost all…employees, even for…stores and marinas, are work campers.”

RV Park Store is a website with listings for campgrounds, resorts, and marinas for sale. It also has a Help Wanted for RV Parks and Campgrounds page.

Sun RV Resorts has a Work Camper program. Work campers in the Sun Resorts program “earn wages for the work…perform[ed], [and] earn rebates that are applied towards…site rent,” among other perks.

Bethpage Camp-Resort in Urbana, VA hires workampers. I was not able to find a list of their available workamper positions, but the website says potential workampers can send a resume and cover letter to bethpage_mgr@equitylifestyle.com.

The Working Couples website also offers campground job listings. (See more about Working Couples membership in the Companies You Pay…section below.)

The Camp Channel website offers a list of summer camp jobs and employment opportunities. (Note: These are jobs working with children.)

Members of The Camphosts Facebook group often list available campground jobs.

 RV Hosts & Work Campers of America is another Facebook group “for posting campground hosting reviews as well as posting of available positions.”

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has a volunteer opportunities page that directs folks to Volunteer.gov and advises folks to check with local BLM offices. Volunteer.gov calls itself “America’s Natural and Cultural Resources Volunteer Portal.” I’m not sure if any of the opportunities listed on Volunteer.gov are paying positions or if local BLM offices offer paying positions for work campers.

The Workers on Wheels website has a Campground Work page full of articles about working at campgrounds and RV parks.

Agriculture Jobs If you like working outdoors and don’t mind getting dirty,

People Harvesting

an agricultural job might be for you.

The Unbeetable Experience website is where you can apply to work the sugar beet harvest in Minnesota, North Dakota, or Montana, and possibly “earn up to $2,400 in two weeks.” You can also follow The Unbeetable Experience on Facebook. If you are considering working the sugar beet harvest, be sure to read the informative blog post “9 Expectations While Workamping the Sugar Beet Harvest.”

Michigan apparently has a beet harvest too. You can find out more on The Michigan Beet Harvest website or on their Facebook page. In answer to a question on Facebook, they say they do hire Workampers.

While WWOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) does not involve monetary compensation, it does offer “accommodations, meals, and learning” in return for working “usually about 4 to 6 hours a day” on organic farms and other places involved in “an organic lifestyle.”

The Working Couples website has a Ranch-Farm Couples job list page for folks “who enjoy working outdoors and with animals.” (See more about Working Couples membership in the Companies You Pay…section below.)

The Workers on Wheels website has a page called Agricultural Jobs for Campers and RVers: Jobs Involving Plants and Animals with many articles on the topic.

Red Wooden Shed on Farm Land

Caretaking Jobs Some  property caretaking and house sitting jobs pay a wage and offer a free place to live, while some only  offer free accommodations in exchange for keeping everything safe, secure, and in order.

The Working Couples website has a Caretaker Couples job list page, and says “some pay salary, some are hourly, some are just housing and utilities.” (See more about Working Couples membership in the Companies You Pay…section below.)

The article “How to Become a Summer Lighthouse Keeper in Michigan” will tell you how to do just that. (Beware: Some of these positions don’t pay a wage and many require application fees or a payment to stay in the lighthouse.)

The Caretaker Gazette is a resource you have to pay for. It is a “newsletter [online or print issue] containing property caretaking and house sitting jobs, advice, and information for property caretakers, house sitters, and landowners.”

Housesitters America is a web based resource that also costs money. Potential house and pet sitters pay $30 per year to browse ads seeking sitters and to make their profiles available to people looking for sitters. I (Blaize) had a membership with Housesitters America for a year and wrote about my (positive) experience with the website and the homeowners I sat for.

The Workers on Wheels website has a Property Caretaking Jobs page with many articles about house sitting, pet sitting, and providing security and care for the owners

Driving Jobs If you like driving—or at least don’t mind it—you can make

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some money that way.

The Happy Vagabonds website has a page dedicated to RV Camper Delivery Jobs. The page says, ” Some of the RV transport companies require specific licensing requirements…”

CWRV Transport hires independent contractors to “deliver over 40,000 fifth wheel and travel trailer RVs, annually, using owned or leased ¾ or 1 ton pickup trucks.”

Horizon Transport “is one of North America’s largest RV transporters.” The company hires drivers who “use their pickup trucks to pull RVs and other trailers across the country, one at a time.” Horizon Transport’s Flatbed division hires drivers of flatbed trailers “to haul multiple RVs and other vehicles or trailers across North America.” The company also hires folks for Drive-Away which “is unique in that you don’t need a truck. You simply get in the RV, UPS truck, or other large vehicle and drive it to the destination.”

The Working Couples website has a Driving Couples page. When I (Blaize) looked at that page, I thought a few of the listings might appeal to work campers. (See more about Working Couples membership in the Companies You Pay…section below.)

Gray Industrial Machine during Golden Hour

Oilfield Gate Guard Jobs Gate guarding jobs often require a couple or a team of two because it is necessary for someone to be on duty 24/7.

The Happy Vagabonds website has a page with Oil Field Gate Guard job listings.

Timekeepers Security, Inc. seems to hire RVers as gate guards. You can contact the company via its Facebook page.

A 2011 post on the blog My Old RV titled “Oilfield Gate Guard Hiring and Contact Info” offers a list of companies that hire(d) “oilfield gate guards in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana.” This information is old, but it might be a starting point. Also, the author of this post listed the paperwork he had to complete to get hired as a field gate guide.

If you are considering doing this kind of work, be sure to read the article “Oilfield Gate Guarding” on the Heartland RVs website.

Tourism Jobs If you can stand working a lot of hours during the busy tourist

Person Folding White Bath Towels

season, you can bank quite a bit of money in just a few months.

The Black Hills Experience website makes the offer, “Camp for free or at a discounted rate in the heart of the Black Hills of South Dakota and surrounding area while making an honest wage at one of the many area businesses.”

The Live Camp Work website features the article “Jobs for RVers at America’s Theme Parks” which gives information about three parks that recruit nomads for summer work.

The Working Couples website has a Resort Couples page which lists jobs such as bartending, waitressing, housekeeping, grounds keeping, etc. (See more about Working Couples membership in the Companies You Pay…section below.)

The Grand Teton Lodge Company provides dorm housing for employees as well as offering sites in an employee RV Park. “The GTLC Employee RV Park has a limited number of sites available. There are water, electric (30 and 50 amp), and sewer hookups at each site. These are suitable only for hard sided, fully self-contained RV’s (no tents or pop-up campers)… All RV sites are charged a daily fee of $7.50.”

The Grand Canyon Conservancy “employs an average of 80 employees with seasonal retail positions consisting of work campers.”

Delaware North Parks and Resorts at the Grand Canyon “offers shared dorm style housing to its associates…at a minimal cost to the employees.”

Delaware North also hires work campers in Yellowstone National Park. “For those with their own RV’s, our Park RV site rental ranges from $35-78… RV’ers are responsible to pay metered electric and propane… For those living in our dorms, we do charge $29.50/week per person for your housing…You will be charged $63.50/week per person for three (3) set-menu meals a day, seven (7) days a week. All dorm residents are required to participate in the meal program.”

The Xanterra concessions management company offers jobs in several National Parks including Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain, Zion, Glacier, and Death Valley. In many cases, housing for employees is provided. “Employee lodging facilities are generally dormitory-style facilities with communal baths…A limited number of trailer sites with full hook-ups are available for employees who bring their own self-contained recreational vehicle (single body, hard-sided with shower/toilet facilities). Meal and lodging costs vary by property. ”

Forever Resorts has “over 20 properties located in and around National Parks across the United States…” The company “…offers opportunities in the hospitality, food & beverage, retail, marina, and outdoor adventure industries as well as operational and administrative support positions.” Forever Resorts offers seasonal employment.

The Blair Hotels in Cody, WY hire workampers May through October for jobs such as housekeeping, front desk/reservations, maintenance, line cooks, buffet servers, and retail/gift shop clerks.

Adventureland Resort in Altoon, IA has a Workamper Program and “provides a free hook up campsite that includes electric, water, and sewer” to seasonal workers with RVs. Workampers primarily work in the amusement park and are paid for all hours worked.

Dollywood hires work campers but does not seem to offer RV sites. Instead, the website mentions the abundance of campgrounds in the area and says “[m]any of the campgrounds are within 10 miles” of the amusement park.  The website also says,”[w]ork campers will mostly be working outside” and “should be aware of the high humidity level and seasonal temperatures.”

PeakSeason is a job site “specializ[ing] in seasonal and resort area employment, including hospitality, restaurants, outdoor and adventure jobs, transportation, food & beverage, golf & tennis, and retail.” It is free for job seekers.

Other Work Camping Possibilities This work camping job didn’t fit in any other category.

Amazon CamperForce “is for mobile RVers who work seasonal assignments at Amazon facilities.” Amazon CamperForce has three sites in Kentucky (Lexington, Hebron, and Shepherdsville), two in Tennessee (Murfreesboro and Chattanooga), and one in Arizona (Phoenix).

To learn more about CamperForce, you can read a book written by a woman who was part of the team in 2013, 2015, and 2016. My Guide To Camperforce was written by Sharee Collier of Live Camp Work.

White Rc Vehicle Near Tall Tree

Free Work Camping Listings The following websites offer job listings you can look at for FREE! Some of them also allow work campers to post free “position wanted” ads.

The Workamping Jobs website was created “to give RV workers and those businesses that hire them a place to find each other…for free!” You can place a “work wanted” ad or peruse the “help wanted” ads. You can also follow them on Facebook, but there are no workamping ads on their FB page.

The Snowbird RV Trails website offers a list of “hundreds of current work camping jobs.”

Wanderlust Estate community has a workamping section with available jobs listed by state, an explanation of the difference between “workamping” and “work camping” (Spoiler alert: none, really), a video about work camping job experiences, and really helpful workamping FAQs.

Cool Works lists “Jobs with RV Spaces.”

On the Workers on Wheels website, you can subscribe to the free Workers on Wheels Newsletter which includes job listings and tips from working RVers. There are current job listings posted on the site as well. The website also offers a LOT of helpful information for folks new to work camping.

The Happy Vagabonds website has a Work Camping Jobs Menu page with many different categories of job listings.

The Job Exchange Powered by Escapees RV Club “matches job opportunities with traveling contract workers who want full or part-time work.” Job seekers at RVer Job Exchange must sign up for a free account. After signing in to the site, job seekers can post resumes, view jobs, contact employers, and receive job alerts. You do not have to be a member of the Escapees RV Club or Xscapers community to use this job board.

The Your RV Lifestyle has a job board.

Good Natured Jobs “was created to connect passionate job seekers with…employers offering unique…career opportunities all over the world in the outdoor adventure and travel industry” and has a work camping category. You must be signed in to apply for a job, but creating a profile is free for applicants. You can also follow their page on Facebook.

Backdoor Jobs lists “short-term Job adventures” in categories such as wilderness therapy jobs; summer camp and ranch jobs; jobs in the great outdoors; and resort, guest services, food & hospitality job opportunities.

The mission of itravelft is this: “bring every employer of full-time travelers and every full-time traveler who wants to work together on a one-site job-and-lifestyle platform.” The FAQ promises “searching jobs and applying for them will always be free,” but suggests folks will want a membership because of the extra job-search tools and value-added items available to members.

Facebook Groups about Jobs for Travelers You can join these

Green and White Volkswagen Combi

Facebook groups where people often post job openings.

The single workampers working together group is “for anyone that likes to workamp.” Members are invited to post gigs for single workampers and to share reviews and experiences.

The I Travel Full-time and I Work Here! group is a “forum for travelers seeking jobs and people who employ them.”

The Work Camper Jobs group is “a place to match super park hosts and work campers with extraordinary employers.”

Members of the Work Campers/Volunteers group are invited to “Post Work Camping or volunteering experiences (good or bad).”  Members are also allowed to post “work camper or volunteer (camp host) positions available.”

The admin of the group Work Campers mobile jobs has invited members to post information about employers looking to fill positions.

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Companies You Pay for Job Listings or to Help You Find Work Camping Jobs If the free job listings aren’t enough, here are some companies you can pay to help you with your job search. These sites offer listings for several different kinds of work.

Workamper® News “has been the premier source for connecting RV lovers and potential employers for more than two decades.” There are three levels of membership (Gold for $19.95 per year, Diamond for $47 per year, and Platinum for $67 per year), each with different benefits. Workamper News also has a Facebook page.

To be a member of Work Camp Connections, you pay $14.95 per year. The company sends you a “host profile to fill out.” They verify your profile, run a background check, and check your references. Then they mail your “profile out to prospective campground in the areas you want to work.”

To see complete contact information on job postings on the Working Couples website, you have to be a subscriber and sign in. There are three subscription levels. The Free or Limited Subscription allows you to see featured jobs only. The $5 per month Monthly Subscription and the $12 per quarter Quarterly Subscription give full, unrestricted access to employer contact information for all active job listings, provide access to forums, and offer the optional upgrade to resume posting for $14.95.

The website for the KOA Work Kamper Program says the jobs offered vary by location but may “include maintenance, front desk staff, and manager.” Apparently to get access to the KOA Work Kamper website, one must pay $35 per year. Benefits include unlimited access to the KOA resume website, unlimited access to all KOA job postings, and training and educational opportunities.

For $50 a year, folks can join The Adventure Collective and get unlimited access to “jobs [sic] opportunities & work exchanges in the world’s best adventure destinations,” gain the ability to contact employers directly, and apply for jobs from anywhere in the world.

Resources for Work Campers Some of these websites and groups offer

Person Holding Black Compass

advice and suggestions for finding and getting work camping jobs while others offer work campers a forum for reviewing the places they’ve worked.

At The Goats on the Road blog, you can find a comprehensive post titled “101 Best Travel Jobs That Can Earn You Money While Travelling.” This post offers many ideas for work beyond the typical camp host job or working for Amazon during the pre-Christmas rush. There’s even more info about traveling and working on the Remote Jobs page.

The Workamper Dreamers Facebook group is the Workamper News intro group for “those that want to live the RV Lifestyle and learn how to take that next step to the freedom we all desire.”

The Workamping for Single Workers. And Campground Reviews Facebook group is “for workampers where a single or one half of a couple is able or chooses to work for a FHU or other compensation. All RV’ers are welcome…” In addition to items for sale and reviews of campgrounds and their staff, there are some job postings on this page.

The Workamping Reviews website allows work campers to post reviews of their worksites. Reviews are also posted on the Workamping Reviews Facebook page.

The Workcamper jobs & Reviews Facebook group “is to REVIEW work campers/camphosts jobs…We hope to be a resource for Work campers. With honest reviews as well as any job opening.”

The Workamper Reviews Facebook group is “for individuals that are WORKAMPERS. Our group offers members a place to share reviews of places they have work camped.”

The Live Camp Work website calls itself “your online resource for information on working on the road.” The mission statement says the site “was created to help provide information to working RVers about ways to make money on the road.” Several of the articles mentioned elsewhere in this post comes from Live Camp Work, and the website offers the extensive article “Workamping Families: Full-time Families Go Workamping With Kids!” You can also follow Live Camp Work on Facebook.

The authors of Live. Work. Dream. blog answer the question “What is Workamping?” and share their own adventures as work campers. They also offer an e-book Income Anywhere, in which they tell readers about the “various…revenue streams [they’ve] developed to support [their] nomadic lifestyle.” You can also follow Live.Work.Dream on Facebook.

The Workers on Wheels website offers resources for workamping parents in the section RVing Families with Children: Working While RVing with Kids.

I hope you find this list of job leads for nomads in the U.S.A. helpful. I would love to know if you get a job from this list. I’d also love to know if you have any other leads for jobs for nomads. In either case, please leave a comment below.

Special thanks to Jamie Fox for sharing the list. Jamie is a strong, independent woman who raised two boys on her own with many trials and tribulations. Now in her 40s with her boys on their own, she can travel. She doesn’t think people should let fear stop their hopes and dreams. People who live outside the box are the bravest people, so you’re already one step in the right direction.

Images courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/white-vehicle-traveling-on-road-2416592/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/relaxation-forest-break-camping-111362/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-holding-and-showing-100-dollar-bills-from-leather-wallet-1877353/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/people-harvesting-2131784/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/agriculture-barn-clouds-cloudy-206768/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/aerial-photo-of-asphalt-road-1046227/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/gray-industrial-machine-during-golden-hour-162568/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-folding-white-bath-towels-1437861/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/white-rc-vehicle-near-tall-tree-1906155/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/green-and-white-volkswagen-combi-594384/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/white-rv-on-road-2580312/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-holding-black-compass-1308751/.

We Do Our Best

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A tiny elderly woman came up the kiosk in the fuel center where I was working. Her face just peeked over the solid part of the wall so I could see her in the window. Her hair was totally white, and she wore glasses. When she began to speak, I could tell English was not her first language. Perhaps French was the language she’d first learned.

Communicating through bulletproof glass is a challenge. I use an intercom system to speak to the customers. When I want to talk, I press a button. When I need to listen, I let go of the button. Sometimes I let go of the button while I’m still talking. Ooops!

The intercom system is old and sometimes fades in and out while someone is talking. Often the customer and I look at each other in confusion. What did you say? I’m sorry. Could you repeat that?

Throw in a hearing loss, a thick accent, or a language barrier, and Houston, we have a problem.

The elderly French (or at least French accented) woman was trying to communicate her needs, but I’ll be damned if I could understand a word she said.

What pump are you on, ma’am? I asked several times.

Maybe she couldn’t understand a word I said.

Finally she was able to communicate that she was on pump 10.

We went through a similar fiasco to figure out how much fuel she wanted to pay for. After some back and forth, we nailed down an amount. Now came the time for her to put the payment in the sliding drawer so I could pull it into the kiosk.

Please put your payment in the drawer, I squawked over the intercom.

The woman looked at me dazed and confused.

Lift the glass, ma’am, I instructed. Put your payment in the drawer.

I heard fumbling around on the other side of the wall, but when I pulled the drawer in, there was no money in it. I pushed the drawer back out.

A line had formed behind the woman. Usually when a customer has trouble with the drawer, someone in line steps up to demonstrate lifting the Plexiglas so payment can be placed in the drawer. On this day, no one took pity on the woman; no one offered to help.

I’ll need you to put your payment in the drawer, I told the woman. Go ahead and lift the glass.

I heard more fumbling on the other side of the wall, but again, the drawer was empty when I pulled it in. I pushed it out again and wondered what to do.

A white-haired man stomped over from the direction of pump 10. He bypassed the line and stepped up to the window next to the elderly woman. He began speaking to her in what sounded like French to me. He was berating her; that much was obvious despite any language barrier. I heard loud shuffling on the other side of the wall, followed by the loud opening of the glass over the drawer, followed by a slamming of the glass strong enough to rattle the metal drawer.

The woman said something sharp to the white-haired man, but he never even looked at her. I gave the woman her receipt (this time she knew to lift the glass to get it from the drawer), and she was on her way.

I felt really embarrassed for the woman and sad for her too. That man (her husband, presumably) had been really mean to her in front of God and everybody. Those of us who witnessed the interaction didn’t need to understand French to know he he’d been ugly.

Before too long, the elderly lady was back at the kiosk for her change. I got it for her and sent it out through the drawer.

Have a nice day, I said at the end of our transaction. I wanted to offer her some small kindness.

I will try, she said. She rolled her eyes in the direction of pump 10. We do our best.

I smiled. I stayed silent, but in my head I agreed. We certainly do our best. Even when our strongest efforts are futile. Even when people stomp over to speak gruffly to us. We do our best. It’s all we can do.

Thank You

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Kids loved the hiking sticks we sold at the Mercantile. They loved to take the sticks out of the display rack, and they loved to thump them on the wooden floor as they walked through the store.

Sometimes a kid would convince a parent to buy a hiking stick, but usually not. The sticks were pricey–$18 to $25–and most parents realized their kid didn’t hike often enough to make the stick a practical purchase. Most often, a kid had to leave the beloved hiking stick behind.

One day a family came into the store. In addition to Mom and Dad, there were two children who seemed to be boys. The older child was on the brink of being a teenager, while the younger kid was probably nine. Each member of the family was dressed in earth tones and sported at least one piece of camo clothing.

The two children were immediately drawn to the hiking sticks. They both walked right over to the display and began to take one stick after another from the rack as they talked about how cool the sticks were. As soon as the mother saw the price of the first stick, she said no. The woman had no intention of buying even one hiking stick and told the boys to put the sticks back where they belonged.

The older kid complied with his mother’s orders and returned the stick to its place in the rack. The younger boy took his stick of choice with him as he began walking through the store.

He didn’t just carry the stick. Oh no. He was a thumper! With each step he took, he brought the end of the stick down hard onto the wooden floor. Thump! Thump! Thump! reverberated through the Mercantile. His parents didn’t do anything to discourage this behavior.

I took a deep breath and let it out. This kid was getting on my last nerve, but I didn’t really think it was my place to correct him. His parents were standing right there. I though it was their job to reprimand him, not mine.

Then the kid started swinging the stick.

Swinging hiking sticks was another popular activity among young visitors to the the Mercantile. I don’t know where they got the idea that hiking sticks were for swinging. Maybe somebody in the Harry Potter movies fights with a staff or maybe they’re emulating Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings. I don’t know why, but over the course of two summers, I saw many children swinging hiking sticks as tall or taller than they were.

When the boy began swinging the hiking stick I knew his parents had no intention of buying, it was more than I could take. I walked up to the kid, put my hands on the hiking stick, and firmly took it from him while saying what he was doing was improper use of the stick.

Breakable bear figurines sit on a shelves, a shaft of sunlight illuminating them.
Some of the fragile knick-knacks for sale in the Mercantile

Let’s put this away before something gets broken, I said. My concern was valid. There were many fragile knick-knacks in the Mercantile that could have been destroyed with one unfortunate swing of that stick.

When I put my hands on the hiking stick, the boy immediately let go. He didn’t protest or whine. I think it’s a pretty good indication that people know they’re doing wrong when they don’t even protest when confronted.

As I walked past the mother on my way to put away the hiking stick, she murmured Thank you. She sounded exhausted

I gave her a nod and a grim smile. I was glad she was glad for my help and not mad at my interference, but I felt like I was doing her job instead of my own. I thought it was her job to demand her kid follow through after telling him to return the stick to the display rack. I thought it was her job to tell her kid to stop thumping the stick on the floor. I thought it was her job to tell her kid the stick was not meant for swinging, especially in a small, enclosed space housing breakable items. Apparently she thought her job was to browse while her nine-year-old kid did whatever he wanted to do.

Of course, the father figure hadn’t said anything either. It was his job to correct the kid too, so I don’t think only the mother was at fault.

As was so often the theme in my interactions with tourists on that mountain, when they left, I was glad to see them go.

I took the photo in this post.

A Poem (Bonus Blog Post)

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Once I wrote a lot of poetry. Now I don’t write many poems. Actually, I write almost none. Prose has supplanted poetry in my life. However, becasue today is National Poetry Day in the UK, I decided to share a poem I wrote .

I’m not very happy with the formatting. I can never get poetry to format correctly on my blog. My apologies.

Situation

My dad said

a cowboy never sits

with his back to the door.

Now it’s called situational awareness.

We make the same mistakes

again and again—

search for love, affection,

understanding.

We’re aware of our

situation,

but what can we do

to change?

Long-term Visitor Area (LTVA)

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seguaro cactus stands in foreground, scrubby land behind it, rugged mountains at the back
BLM land near Quartzsite, AZ

Fall is here, and it’s time for nomads, rubber tramps, vagabonds, and vandwellers to start planning for winter. One possibility for folks who want to live cheaply and escape the worst of the cold rain and snow is spending the winter camping in one of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Long-term Visitor Areas. Each of these areas is commonly called an LTVA.

An LTVA is a large plot of public land set aside by a BLM ranger district for long-term camping. According to the BLM’s brochure “Long-term Camping on Public Lands,” all of the LTVAs are located in

the Arizona and California deserts…along the lower Colorado River.

(If you do decide to spend the winter in an LTVA, be sure to read my blog post “10 Tips for Surviving and Thriving in the Desert.”)

LTVAs are administered by BLM field offices in Yuma, AZ; Palm Springs, CA; and El Centro, CA. In all, there are seven LTVAs: Hot Springs (in California, Latitude/Longitude: 32.76734444, -115.2703056) , Tamarisk (in California, Latitude/Longitude: 32.70812222, -115.1271), Pilot Knob (in California, Latitude/Longitude: 32.74273889, -114.7554806), Mule Mountain, Midland (in California, Latitude/Longitude: 33.7296, -114.661), La Posa (in Arizona, divided into La Posa North and La Posa South, Latitude/Longitude: 33.65165, -114.2169), and Imperial Dam (in Arizona, Latitude/Longitude: 32.901256, -114.495431).

Camping in a LTVA is not free, but it is less expensive than any RV park I’ve ever heard of. Most LTVAs do offer some amenities. Amenities vary by location, but may include trash receptacles, running water, dump stations, and restrooms. Where trash receptacles and dump stations are available,

[g]arbage and sewage [including grey water] must be transported by visitors to the nearest disposal site,

according to the BLM brochure.

LTVA camping areas are going to look a lot like this BLM land near Quartzsite.

It is important to note that no LTVA is a developed campground. LTVAs offer open desert camping with the possibility of the few amenities mentioned above. Potential LTVA campers should research each area to find the one that best suits individual needs. For example, while both LTVAs at La Posa and Imperial Dam offer restroom facilities,

[c]ampers must be 100% self-contained for waste and gray water in order to utilize [Midland LTVA] since vault toilets are not provided.

The BLM brochure mentioned before states,

[s]ince only minimum facilities are available at most of the sites, visitors should plan to arrive in a self-contained camping unit. Self-contained units are those with a permanently affixed wastewater holding tank of a 10-gallon minimum capacity.

Furthermore, in the supplementary rules governing everyone who enters an LTVA at any time of year,

BLM does not consider port-a-potty systems, systems that utilize portable holding tanks, or permanent holding tanks of less than 10-gallon capacity, to be self-contained.

Can someone in a rig without a minimum 10 gallon wastewater holding tank stay at an LTVA? Yes, but only at Mule Mountain, Imperial Dam, or La Posa. For example, La Posa LTVA has 10 ADA accessible pit toilets available for public use. Folks dwelling in rigs that are not self-contained are required to camp

within 500 feet of a vault toilet or rest room.

Campers can get either a long-term or short-term permit for access to the LTVAS.

The cost of the LTVA long-term permit is $180. According to the BLM informational webpage dedicated to the La Posa LTVA, the long-term permit

allows use of…LTVAs continuously from September 15 to April 15…or for any length of time between those two dates.

For folks who don’t want to stay at a LTVA for quite so long, there is also short-term permit which costs $40. According to the aforementioned website, this permit

allows use of…LTVAs for any 14 consecutive day period from September 15 to April 15…The short-visit permit may be renewed an unlimited number of times for the cost of the permit.

Please note, the BLM website specifies

[b]ecause LTVAs are special permit areas and not developed campgrounds, the Golden Eagle, Golden Age, Golden Access Passports, and America the Beautiful Pass discounts DO NOT apply to LTVA permit fees.

This means you will NOT be able to use your Golden Age/Senior Pass or Golden Access/Access Pass to get half off the price of a camping permit at a LTVA. Nor will any other pass get you any other sort of discount at an LTVA. If you want to stay at an LTVA, you have to pay full price.

A BLM webpage about LTVAs says,

Campers may obtain permits at LTVA host entrance stations, or by contacting…[the overseeing] BLM offices in Arizona and southern California. Permits are not available through the mail.

The contact information for the aforementioned BLM offices are given at the end of this post.

Both the long and short-term permits are valid in any of the LTVAs. Permit holders can move from one LTVA to another without paying any additional fees. Be sure you really want to camp at a LTVA before you lay your money down because according the Long-term Visitor Area Supplementary Rules, the BLM will not refund permit fees. Permit holders cannot reassign or transfer a permit.

Also according to the LTVA Supplementary Rules, when the long or short-term permit is purchased, the permit-holder is issued permit decals. A decal must go on the windshield (“bottom right hand corner”) of each transportation vehicle. Each permit allows for two secondary vehicles to be used within the LTVA. A decal must also be placed “in a clearly visible location” on the camping unit.

The rules also say that rigs in any LTVS should be parked no more than 15 feet from any other “dwelling unit.” No rig or campsite in an LTVA should be left unoccupied for more than five days unless a BLM officer has given permission. Finally, all wheeled vehicles must remain mobile during a stay at a LTVA. “Wheels must remain on all wheeled vehicles.” However, trailers and pickup campers may be set “on jacks manufactured for that purpose.”

You won’t find a metal fire ring at a LTVA, but you can have a campfire in a rock fire ring constructed by a previous camper.

Other rules deal with wood and campfire. Campfires are allowed, but must be in compliance of all local, state, and federal rules. That means if there is a fire ban in the area, you won’t be able to enjoy a campfire. Neither are you are allowed to collect firewood nor possess native firewood within LTVAs. This means you must purchase firewood in the nearest town (or sometimes from the camp host) if you want to enjoy a campfire.

The BLM “Long-term Camping…” brochure mentioned above explains why certain sites were chosen for the LTVAs.

The areas designated as Long-Term Visitor Areas were chosen because of their past popularity with winter visitors and because access roads have been developed and facilities are available nearby.

That brochure is also a great resource for seeing the location of each LTVA and the amenities offered each one.

The information I’ve shared today was accurate as far as I could tell when I was writing this post. Blaize Sun is not responsible for any out-of-date information posted on the internet. To double check the information shared in this post, you can call, write, or email the BLM field offices in charge of each LTVA directly.

The Yuma Field Office oversees La Posa LTVA and Imperial Dam LTVA.

Phone: (928) 317-3200

Email: BLM_AZ_YFOWEB@blm.gov

Address: Yuma Field Office
7341 E. 30th St., Suite A
Yuma, AZ 85365

The El Centro Field Office oversees Hot Springs LTVA, Tamarisk LTVA, and Pilot Knob LTVA.

Phone: 760-337-4400

Email: BLM_CA_Web_EC@blm.gov

Address: El Centro Field Office
1661 S. 4th Street
El Centro, CA 92243

The Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office oversees Mule Mountain LTVA. All of the official websites concerning Mule Mountain LTVA seemed to be down when I was researching this post. PLEASE contact The Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office before setting out for Mule Mountain LTVA.

Phone760-833-7100

Email: BLM_CA_Web_PS@blm.gov

Address: Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office

1201 Bird Center Dr.

Palm Springs, CA 92262

I took the photos in this post.

Raccoon Raids

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Tomorrow is International Raccoon Appreciation Day (IRAD). According to “A Quick Guide to International Raccoon Appreciation Day,”

…IRAD is a day meant to celebrate all animals, specifically raccoons, that, while being an important part of their ecosystem, are misunderstood and considered “pests” or “nuisance animals” to local peoples.

In recognition of this special day for raccoons, I share with you a personal raccoon story from the summer of 2018.

The Man was up early getting ready for work. I had a cold and the day before I’d told the other clerk at the Mercantile that I’d be taking the day off. I planned to stay in bed all day and let the cold pass.

The Man opened the door to my van and stuck his head in.  Did you leave the kitchen container out last night? he asked me.

 I don’t know, I mumbled, still groggy. If it’s still out there, then yes, I guess I left it.

The raccoons got into it. Everything’s contaminated, he said.

The raccoons! Dammit! I’d been picking up that container every night for the last few weeks and putting it into my van so as not to attract critters, but I’d forgotten to move it the night before and the raccoons had gotten into our kitchen supplies.

Typically I only had pots and pans and utensils in the tub, but recently I’d gotten lazy and tossed food in there too. That’s what the raccoons had come for. They’d spread half a bag of brown rice across the table the tub sat on, and they’d broken open the bag of falafel powder. They’d only sampled these items, but since we didn’t want to eat anything the coons had touched, this food was now trash. What they had eaten were the almonds my sibling had sent in a care package. The bag the almonds had come in had been left on the outskirts of our camp, and there was not a nut to be found in the area.

The Man said he’d woken up around 11pm; he wasn’t sure why. He grabbed his headlamp and shined it toward our outdoor kitchen area and saw a couple of raccoons up on the table ransacking the tub. He figured it was too late to stop the creatures, so he went back to sleep.

Because The Man had to go to work, guess who spent the morning of her sick day using hot, soapy water to wash everything that had possibly been touched by coons? I was none too happy, but I didn’t forget the tub outside again.

The final raccoon raid during our time on the mountain was more of an appearance than an actual raid. We were still awake when the raccoons came down from the trees that night. I don’t remember why I left my van. Maybe I got out to see why The Man was yelling and the dog barking. In any case, I was soon yelling too, telling the raccoons to go way! and to go home! Surprise: my yelling didn’t work. Those raccoons weren’t going anywhere they didn’t want to go.

I wanted to discourage them from hanging around our campsite. I picked up a fairly big pinecone and pitched it at the raccoon on the ground. I didn’t want to hurt it. Heck, I didn’t think I had any chance of hitting it. I typically can’t hit the broad side of a barn, as they say. I thought the pinecone would fall to the ground near the raccoon and startle the creature, causing it to scurry away. None of those things happened. I tossed the pinecone and somehow managed to hit the raccoon in the side. I was stunned and immediately sorry. However, the coon did not scurry away. In fact, it barely moved. It simply turned its head and looked at me like What?

Oh my god! I called to The Man, then explained how I’d hit the raccoon with a pinecone and it wasn’t in the least Brown and Black Raccoon Photobit scared.

Lock yourself in your van! The Man called out from inside his vehicle, and I did.

We’d left nothing out there for them to damage, so thankfully there was no raccoon mess to clean up in the morning.

Later when I marveled at the raccoon that hadn’t run away when smacked by a pinecone, The Man said, Those guys don’t care. They’re the original gangsters. They were born wearing masks.

Images courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/animal-black-and-white-close-up-cute-289565/ and https://www.pexels.com/photo/brown-and-black-raccoon-photo-634255/.

Too Many Questions (Blog Post Bonus)

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According to the Days of the Year website, today is Ask a Stupid Question Day. In honor of this “holiday,” I’m sharing a blog post bonus about a lady who asked me too many questions. Maybe the questions weren’t stupid, but I was done for the day and didn’t want to answer them. I answered the questions anyway. Sigh.

Halfway through my last season working on the mountain, I thought of a way to get out of guarding the Mercantile overnight twice a week.

After The Man left the mountain, The Big Boss Man was finally able to find another person to work in the main parking lot. The new parking lot attendant, Cindy, lived in her car with her cat. I loaned Cindy my extra tent, and she posted up in a primitive camping area half a mile from the parking lot.

Early in July, one of the other clerks hired to work in the Mercantile left with her husband who’d been the unhappy camp host at one of the larger campgrounds on the mountain. Once the other clerk left, I had to be at the Mercantile at 8:30on Monday and Tuesday mornings to get the place opened by 9am. Losing an hour of freedom on those mornings made security duty on Sunday and Monday nights an even bigger pain in my neck.

Because I’m a nice person and a team player (or maybe because I’m a sucker), I didn’t just tell my boss I was done working as a security guard and let him figure out how to make sure the Mercantile was secure when the camp hosts were on their days off. Because I’m a nice person and a team player (or maybe because I’m a sucker), I thought about how to solve the problem my retirement from the (nonexistent) security force would cause. I thought about who might be willing to fill my security shoes, and I thought of Cindy. She was living between a tent and a car. Maybe she would like to spend a couple of nights a week in the (usually unrented) yurt next to the Mercantile.

When I presented my idea to The Big Boss Man, he was agreeable. I think he was glad I’d solved the problem for him. Cindy was agreeable too. Now she could stretch out and sleep in a real bed at least a couple of nights a week.

One Sunday afternoon after Cindy took over my security duties, I closed the Mercantile at five o’clock and went through my end-of-day procedures. I took care of everything step-by-step until the last thing I had to do was hand off the telephone to Cindy so she’d be able to make any emergency calls necessary during the night.

I walked over to the yurt where Cindy was staying and gave her the phone.

We chatted for a few minutes, then I said, I better get out of here before someone starts asking me questions.

I looked over at the parking area and saw only one vehicle other than my van, a car parked right next to me. It looked as if I could quite possibly make it out of there undisturbed.

As I walked up to my van, I saw the woman who belonged to the car next to my rig was also approaching her vehicle. Before I could even get to my door to unlock it, I’ll be damned if the woman didn’t say, What do you sell in the store?

I was polite. T-shirts, caps, magnets. Souvenirs. Camping supplies.

Do you sell food? she asked me.

What’s it matter? I thought. The store is closed.

However, I answered nicely enough. Chips. Candy. Granola bars.

By this time, my door was unlocked, and I got into my van and closed the door behind me. The woman walked around the front of her car and stood near my door.

Excuse me, she said, so I opened the door. (Unfortunately, the window does not roll down.)

The hot springs? she asked, so I told her everything I knew about the hot springs. The answer I gave her was quite comprehensive. While I talked, I buckled my seat belt. Surely the woman knew I wanted to leave.

When I ended my informational seminar on the hot springs, I hoped the woman had gotten all the attention she needed from me and would let me leave, but no. Now she wanted to know the best way to get to Mega-Babylon. Really? I was off the clock, but I’m a nice person (or maybe a sucker), so I took a deep breath and gave detailed directions to Mega-Babylon. Then I closed my door and started my engine and drove away before she could ask me what the weather was supposed to be like, how tall a particular tree was, or the price of the tea in China. I don’t know why she even asked what we sold in the Mercantile if she was on her way to Mega-Babylon! She’d be far away before the store opened at 9am the next morning.

The next time I saw Cindy, I reminded her how I’d said I better leave before anyone asked me any questions, then told her all about the woman parked next to me and her barrage of questions. Cindy and I agreed I’d pretty much asked the Universe to send that woman and her inquiries my way.

Blood Money

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Content warning: blood

Photo of Gasoline Dispenser in Station

The first half of my opening shift at the fuel center was fairly slow, but around noon things really picked up. I’d gotten up at 4:15 so I could open the place at 6am, and I was really tired. I couldn’t wait for my coworker to arrive at 1pm so I could complete my restocking mission and clock out.

At about 12:45 a man came up to the window and said he wanted to put $11 on pump 6. He also asked if I had a paper towel. I didn’t think to tell him there were paper towels outside at the windshield washing stations. I just ran to the back of the kiosk and grabbed a couple of paper towels for him. I shoved them into the drawer and sent them out to him.

When I pulled the drawer back in and picked up his money, I understood

1 Us Bank Note

why he needed a paper towel. Several of the eleven $1 bills he’d put in the drawer for payment had bright red blood on them. The blood was neither smeared nor splattered; the customer had somehow bled neatly upon the bills. It seemed as if the blood had soaked into the bills immediately. Even though the money wasn’t dripping blood, it was still really, really, really gross. I’d only thought boob money was bad until I was presented with blood money.

I dropped the bills on the counter, then ran to the back of the kiosk again and grabbed a vinyl glove from the box on the shelf. I put the glove on my right hand before I touched the bloody money again.

I’m not particularly squeamish about blood. I wouldn’t say I’m attracted to it, but neither the thought nor the sight of it makes me feel sick or faint. However, I certainly don’t want to come in contact with a stranger’s blood.

A veteran worker from the supermarket was in the kiosk with me repricing all the merchandise inside. She had just been telling me how much she respected me for being able to handle all the difficult fuel center customers and how she would never make it in the fuel center. I showed her the bloody money and asked her what I should do. She suggested I rub hand sanitizer onto the blood.

It didn’t occur to me at the time not to take the bloody bills. Money’s money, right? It didn’t occur to me until I started working on this post that the bloody money contaminated the drawer, the cash register, and all the bills it touched. If the bleeding customer had any kind of disease, he could have infected me, the coworker who relieved me, the bookkeeper who would count the day’s cash drop the next morning, the bookkeeper at the corporate office who received the money, the banker who eventually received the money…How long do germs from blood live once they hit currency?

I don’t think refusing the money occurred to the supermarket veteran either. She never offered refusal as an option for me. She said I should slap some hand sanitizer on the blood, so I did, then put the bills in the drawer. A few minutes later when my coworker reported for duty, I told him about the bloody (and now also soggy from generous dollops of hand sanitizer) bills. He shook his head.

He must have called management immediately after I left to pull items for our restock because when I returned, the first thing he told me was that management said we did NOT have to accept bloody money if we didn’t want to. Thank goodness for that!

Person Putting White Bandage On Left Hand

I feel sorry for the customer who was bleeding; I truly do. Who among us has not cut ourselves unexpectedly in a public place and had to staunch the blood flow with limited first aid supplies? However (and that is a BIG however), that man should not have paid with bloody money. Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! It is not my job to clean blood off his bills. I’m glad to know my bosses agree with me on that point.

Images courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-gasoline-dispenser-in-station-1051397/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/1-us-bank-note-47344/, and https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-putting-white-bandage-on-left-hand-1409706/.