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Front Page » September 23, 2008 » Opinion » Staff column: It isn't always about the money
Published 2,031 days ago

Staff column: It isn't always about the money


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

This is one of those feel good columns I like to write every once in awhile. So be warned.

This past week I took a little time off of work and was able to spend three days at the north rim of the Grand Canyon and one day in Bryce Canyon National Park.

Living in Carbon County and getting caught up in what is going on here, I sometimes forget how lucky we are to live in a beautiful place and to be able to visit other wonderful places only a few hours away from us.

The Grand Canyon is always magnificent with its fantastic views and old, historical lodging facilities. The natural charm is there, but what makes it even better is the people who work there.

As I talked to porters, waiters/waitresses, reservation people and others, I found that there is a kind of nomadic life that the people who work on the north rim live. For many summers are spent helping people who visit have a great time at the canyon. Meanwhile winters are either spent working at ski/winter resorts, traveling or just going home to relax through the cold weather until April when they come back to the canyon to get things ready to open again.

Many of the people that work at the north rim are either retired and have fixed incomes or are single and free to do what they want. There are also a number of couples who work there.

Understand that the people who work at the lodge, stores, restaurants and other businesses at the north rim all work for a concessionaire who has bid with the national park service to run those services. These are not national park employees, so they get none of the benefits federal workers receive.

Most make only a rudimentary sum of money; one told me he made $7.50 per hour, another made $8. So why do these people have so much joy in what they do?

As I talked with a number of them I saw a satisfaction in their face doing things that make visitors to the park happy.

One porter told me that he had been working there for five years and planned on doing it the rest of his life (he was in his mid-20's I would guess).

"In no other business can you see people so happy," he said. "When they arrive they are so tense with the lives they live outside of here. When they leave that has all gone away."

One man, in his late 50's told me that he spends his days helping people with their cars, bike rentals and making arrangements for the barbecue train. In the evening he hikes and just enjoys being in the most magnificent canyon on earth.

Not that the place is heaven, but it seems to be as close as you can get to it. And that's because of the workers attitudes about what they can do to improve peoples lives, no matter where they come from on the planet.

Wouldn't it be nice if we all could think like that?

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September 23, 2008
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