Pandemic Pains & Wisdom

19 05 2020

I am writing this to you wearing a surgical face mask. We are now entering phase two of this pandemic.

But all is not lost.

The buses still run in Portland. Ridership is down and unemployment rising. More people appear to be living and sleeping on the streets. Not a pretty sight in some cases. COVID-19 is turning the old town and Chinatown sections of the city into slums. I have been witness to awful screaming and fighting among the homeless. The city, much like the nation, often challenged to do more for the mentally ill.

The pandemic has brought forth all the pain America has to bare.

Personally, I’m in decent shape all things considered. Last week, an oral surgeon took three of my teeth. Extracting wisdom, as we say. The process of discovering a health problem was painful. X-rays determined surgery was needed and for the first time in good while, I drifted off to sleep. When I woke up the teeth were gone and my mouth full of bloody gauze. They wheeled me down to the car where David picked me up and drove us home.

Four days later I’m writing to you, readers and loyal followers to say thank you. Thank you for reading and supporting my endeavors through the years and the wonderful journey life has provided.

COVID-19

These are truly challenging times. I have lost dear friends to this pandemic. I have listened attentively to my friends, neighbors and co-workers concerns about society and government. The Coronavirus has impacted so many lives and created intersections that are not always fatal.

I have been privileged to meet the acquiantances of and become friends with some truly remarkable people. You will never forget those people you worked with through this pandemic. The level of learning I have experienced is off the charts. Not exactly the original job description of a housekeeper.

Helpers, scoundrels, the naive and dumb, egotiscal tech bros, mama hens and grizzled veterans have all been exposed. I have found who cares, who acts and who sits on the sidelines.

I have fallen in love at times and felt the sting of disappointment as well.

How we got forth as a world will be interesting.

We must re-evaluate what we prioritize, fund and take care of. We must change our behaviors and consumer habits. Most importantly, we have to look out for each other beyond wearing masks and checking symptoms.

Don’t let relationships reach a dead end without seeking or asking for help.

Pull yourself together and check on your spouse, partner, friend, family member, pet, building superintendent, area supervisor, etc. etc.

And remember, you got this.

See ya on the next travel adventure, hopefully.

Ciao for now.

John





Finishing Strong

21 09 2014

A long, hard and arduous summer has come to an end.

There were times when I felt that I had bitten off more than I could chew. The entire experience at Lake McDonald Lodge reminded me of the summer of 2010 and my ill-fated campaign for public office. Too many people were watching and depending on me and no matter how hard the going was, I simply could not quit.

I quit an important position before and vowed never to do that again.

So this summer was indeed a journey of perseverance, but I leave Montana with a new skill set and a hardened exterior.

St. Mary Lake

St. Mary Lake

Much like that race for the Florida House, I began this Glacier project cautiously, scared, intimidated at times and trying to please all while maintaining that “nice guy” image.

But some people take advantage of kindness. Others do not know the meaning of the word. This I have learned the hard way.

Saying “No” is hard. Getting people to accept “No” as your final answer is harder. And perhaps the hardest of all is understanding why we — as human beings — cannot do certain things.

There is no doubt I have changed because of my five months in Glacier National Park — enforcing federal regulations, interpreting nature’s wonders and, above all, keeping my cool during day-to-day operations at the lodge. As much as I would have enjoyed going out with guys and gals and drinking the night away, responsibility prevented that. Someone had to rise at 6 a.m. to get this show on the road.

And, make no mistake, this show was a profitable one.

The park experienced record numbers in visitation, prompting our superintendent to remark how “intense” a summer season it was. At the lodge, revenue exceeded projections and as I type tourists are still streaming in to see the changing colors of autumn.

The change in me is obvious. My first foray into project management has led to a great deal of personal growth. In September, I commanded our bus fleet with an authority that was no where to be found when I stepped off the plane last May in Missoula. I came here in search of answers to my station in life. What I found was a mountain’s worth of confidence.

“What happened to that cheerful guy?,” one of our drivers commented after he observed me forcefully explaining, once again, the Going-To-The-Sun Road was closed due to a snow and ice storm.

“He adapted,” I replied.

I certainly realize what I am capable of after this summer. I am on another level career-wise and, perhaps, future employers will recognize such as I return to my home state in hopes of putting these new skills to good use. We’ll see what offers come my way, but already I am feeling nostaglic for what I went through.

All of the drivers and their quirks, demanding and often dehumanizing tourists, the isolation, the shitty food — it all makes me laugh now even though, privately, in July, I would drive across the park and suddenly burst into tears of stress for what the day had brought.

Above all, it is important to remember the majestic beauty of our national parks. It is, first and foremost, why I am here. And to that end, I think I did a damn good job of preserving and protecting Glacier National Park.

Check that … I know I did.