Tag Archives: protecting the Mercantile

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.

Security

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anatomy, biology, eyeNow that the store is up and full of merchandise, The Big Boss Man wants someone on site in the campground where it’s located every night. When the camp hosts are away from the campground during their weekly time off, guard duty falls to me.

To be fair, The Big Boss Man says, if you don’t mind to me whenever he asks me to do something extra, but it seems risky to me to refuse his reasonable request. Honestly, sleeping at the other campground is no big deal. The beauty of sleeping in my van is that I get to spend the night in my own bed no matter where I’m parked. Also, I’m reimbursed for the mileage I accrue driving back and forth between the campground where I live and the campground where the store is located. At 54 cents a mile, I’m not getting rich from driving, but at least it’s a little something to help me out.

I’m not sure what I would do if I woke up in the night and realized someone was robbing the store. The phone is in the store, so if burglars were in there, forget about calling 911 or my boss. I suppose I could get license plate number(s) and description(s) of vehicle(s) and person(s) involved, then climb into my drivers seat, start my van, and drive away to alert my boss. I suppose on my way out of the campground I could shout, That’s my purse! I don’t know you!

Before the campground opened, and I stayed there overnight to guard the store and the yurts, I parked in one of the paved accessible parking spaces. The gates were closed, and I had the only vehicle there, so I figured it didn’t matter if I parked in a reserved spot. Once the campground opened, I decided I better stay out of areas designated for folks with disabilities.

The first night I was on security duty after the campground opened, I drove through the area before parking in thehttps://i1.wp.com/images.pexels.com/photos/699558/pexels-photo-699558.jpeg?resize=388%2C238&ssl=1 camp host site. I knew the hosts had checked in two groups with reservations earlier that afternoon, but I saw at least five sites were occupied. The campground had gotten some walk-in campers before I arrived.

I was not on camp host duty, so I wasn’t concerned with any campers who were not checked in. The Man would patrol the campground the next morning and write permits for anyone who hadn’t been issued one by the camp hosts before they left. I hadn’t been given any permits (since I wasn’t working as a camp host), so I couldn’t have check in anyone even if I wanted to, which I didn’t.

After driving around the campground, I backed into the host site. I had a decent view of the store there, so I could see what was going on if I heard any noises in the night.

I knew I should have drawn my curtains immediately, but instead I sat in my passenger seat, pulled out my phone, and tried to catch a whiff of the store’s WiFi. I hadn’t sat there even ten minutes when I looked up and saw five people standing near my van, looking intently at me.

The youngest woman said, Hello! as soon as I looked up.

I greeted her, but I suspect I looked grim.

They would like to camp here, the young woman said, gesturing to the other people standing nearby.

Ok, I said, leaning back to speak through the open windows on the side of the van. A camp host will be around tomorrow to check them in.

Tomorrow, she echoed. Is there one site that’s not reserved?

I don’t know, I said, which was the truth.

I don’t have any paperwork, I said, which was the truth. The Man had the arrival report for the campground. I knew the camp hosts had put up a reservations card on each campsite that had been reserved for the next week. All the people had to do was walk around and read the signs to find out what sites were available that night.

The young woman continued to look at me expectantly. I’m just working security, I explained with a there’s-nothing-I-can-do shrug.

The people wandered away from my van and huddled together in the roadway, presumably discussing which campsites were available that night.

I learned my lesson that night. I no longer spend my security guard nights in the host site. I park behind the Mercantile and put up my curtains immediately. When I’m away from the host site, the campers don’t seem to consider me someone who might be able to answer their questions.

Images courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/eye-iris-anatomy-biology-8588/ and https://www.pexels.com/photo/six-camping-tents-in-forest-699558/.