Searching for Friends among Victims

16 04 2012

Making friends has been much harder here than I had originally thought.

For starters, most people in the Canyon work a lot of hours so there is very little free time for social activities. You may meet someone briefly in the employee cafeteria that you click with, but if they work in another part of the park and your schedules do not match up, well then, you probably won’t see that person very often.

Take Thomas, the man who paved my way here, for example. We’ve met for breakfast on a couple of occasions, but he works nights at the El Tovar while I’m folding T-shirts at Maswik. To his credit, Thomas did warn me about this.

“You won’t see me that much,” he said. “You’ll make your own set of friends at Maswik.”

And I have tried, but it hasn’t been easy. I’m living just across the railroad tracks from Maswik Lodge in the all male dormitory Victor Hall, or as the locals like to refer to it — “Victim Hall.” Legend has it, there was a murder there a few years back.

You won’t find Victor Hall on any map provided to tourists. It’s almost like the Park Service doesn’t want people to know the place exists. And for good reason.

I’ve lived in dorms before, back in college and Victor Hall is everything you could imagine when you think of a smelly, old, cold brick and mortar building. The nice old Native American ladies I work with at the gift shop get a good laugh out of calling the place an “Animal House.”

And oh are they right.

On the lower level of Victor Hall is what is known as the TV room. There’s soda and snack machines inside, couches and tables, a bookcase full of books no one reads and the television set perched high in the corner. If you are lucky enough to get to the room first or outlast the previous inhabitants, then you get possession of the remote control — A position of great authority at Victor Hall.

Most of the time, the TV is tuned to an action movie with a lot of gunplay, fast cars and faster women or some sort of sporting event. The news is never on.  As I have come to find out, half of the people who live in Victor Hall are in their own little fantasy land so the news has little bearing on them. The other half are foreign workers who cannot understand what Anderson Cooper has to say.

Among the regular visitors to Victor Hall are the fine men and women of NPS Fire and Security. They usually arrive at night, especially on weekends, when things tend to get rowdy. Last Saturday night, just after midnight, the fire alarm went off and we all had to pile outside with snow coming down and temperatures near freezing just because some bozo decided he was going to light one up in the bathroom.

It was my second fire drill at Victor Hall since I got here and it won’t be my last.

Most of the long term employees at the Grand Canyon get out of Victor Hall as soon as they can. One of the more popular sayings is, “I did my six months at Victor.” It’s kind of a sympathetic solidarity amongst the male workers.

Thankfully, I have a stable roommate and the hot water works so I’m in no hurry to abandon Victor Hall just yet. As a writer, the material here is priceless. However, I doubt very seriously I will find a hiking companion in the TV room.





Watching TV with Will

29 09 2009

Caught up on sleep and my favorite television stories today.
No desire to actively seek employment.
They say this is part of the process…the letdown.
Recently I interviewed with the Wyndham Co. It was a phoner with the hospitality giant’s human resources department in Las Vegas.
Alas, my “thanks, but no thanks” letter came via e-mail a couple weeks after our 15-minute phone chat.
The usual reply….while they are always “impressed” with my “skillset” for some reason an offer never follows.
What’s interesting is the peaks and valleys situation this creates among the job seeker.
The peak being, going through the process. Writing the letters, sending the resume and doing the interview.
Then comes rejection, thus knocking the candidate back into the valley to catch up on sleep and sitcoms.
In case you’re wondering. I like to watch “Entourage,” “Weeds,” “How I Met Your Mother,” and “Big Bang Theory.”
Entourage for the writing.
Weeds for the acting.
How I Met Your Mother for the production.
And Big Bang Theory for the nerds.