Gardiner Update 2022

I quit my job at the Ridgeline Hotel. The management there became intolerable with their threatening of employees with homelessness if the new general manager’s rule of terror was not abided by. Many of these people are refugees like myself, fleeing all kinds of horrors of their pasts concocted in the laboratories of our hometowns. Her methods violated my personal code of ethics when agreeing to work for corporations. It was a pity because I had truly hoped to stay with one employer for a year — a feat I have yet to accomplish since leaving my high school job of Mcdonalds. Doing so might have looked good on resume.

Oh well. This was something that I thankfully foresaw coming with the approach of winter so I took steps to prepare. Moving out of the employee housing was extremely costly, especially since no one else seemed ready to make the move along side me. For 6 months I have been forced to dish out 1400 dollars to the man that I rent from all on my own — an impressive feat considering I only worked 3 of those months. That does not include propane, electricity, water or internet. The sum total if you include food costs is about the equivalent of what I could make at the hotel with my wages on a 40 hour work week. Never mind if I want to do anything fun or buy anything new for myself. Even a beer after work at the bar was out of the question most nights.

It was worth it though. Somehow I managed it. Having a home is worth it when you have spent as much time as me sleeping on couches, drifting from place to place without any security or foundation to your life. Trying to plan out a trajectory course for your life is hard without an environment you can call your own and control to your liking. The freedom to do whatever I like in a house that is mine, to explore all of the opportunities for me in the town that I had chosen to settle in was possible. Did I almost forget to describe the view too? A breathtaking view of the mountains every time you walk out of your front door on to the porch.

These facts were not lost on the older slightly foreboding Bulgarian man who had been gracious enough to give me the chance to live in this house. He saw how hard I was trying to aspire for a better life for myself and my ingenuity in coming up with money seemingly out of thin air. Taking me under his wing to get involved with enterprises in town — mostly vacation rentals — was a natural thing. For the past few months, getting to know this man, understanding his ways and business practices, has become an important excerise exceeding almost all others.

Leaving the Ridgeline has also allowed me to pursue employment at the charming Wonderland Cafe and Lodge as well. Though not eager to trade the cushiony front desk job for a return to restaurant work which I had been attempting to escape, the opportunity to connect with some of the more interesting locals has made up for it. Most of the employees are yogis, artists, and musicians in their spare time, making them an eclectic, progressive, and fun group of people to be around, many of who are around my age. Bussing tables in the evenings here has increasingly become a highlight of my day — a break from the more serious discussions had with my new mentor.



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Shawn Mason

Shawn Mason

front desk clerk at the Ridgeline Hotel in Gardiner, Montana next to the northern entrance of Yellowstone National Park.