Blue Bell for life!

On my second day of working at Blue Bell gate selling bike bands, the ladies, who I consider my friends, cornered me.

“So, you know I read your blog.” Barb said. She’s the matriarch of the gate and one of the funniest ladies I’ve ever met.

There are no words to describe the awesomeness.

There are no words to describe the awesomeness.

“Yes…” I trailed off, not knowing why she was standing so close to me with her hands on her hips in a stance that said don’t mess with Texas.

“Well, I’m just hoping you don’t plan on writing anything about us…you know…and some of the stuff we’ve said,” she menaced above me.

I giggled.

So, I can’t write about any of the insanely hilarious comments we made about bikers as they passed wearing nothing but pasties and ¼ of a shirt. I can’t write about the dogs on bikes in their little doggy goggles and little doggy Harley Davidson gear. I can’t write about getting locked in the Port-a-Potty. I can’t write about how badly we wanted a clean, good-looking guy to offer to give us a ride. I can’t write about the stories Melissa and I swapped and I definitely can’t write about…well, I’ll stop there.

I can, however, write about how much I respect and revere the gate attendants so much more than I ever did before. Technically speaking, it’s easy work, but I had no idea how mentally and physically exhausting it can be just to get people to drive in the right lane of traffic. Even with chairs and a fan, it’s really draining talking to people, answering the eternal question of “Where are the buffalo?” and selling entrance passes. Blue Bell is the gate at the west entrance of the Wildlife Loop, so if you came through in the last three days, you proabably saw me. I was usually the one dancing around waving neon green bands in the air.

And in case you were wondering, THE BUFFALO ARE SOMEWHERE ON THE WILDLIFE LOOP ROAD. Just keep driving until you see giant, hulking brown mammals.

Print this off. Bring it with you.

Print this off. Bring it with you.

What makes this park great is that everyone working supports each other during the rally (or at least that was my observation). One of the park administrators brought us brownies and the resort company gives us lunch if they aren’t busy. I even got some coffee delivered after begging for a while, and Barb and Sheila were constantly making sure nobody was nauseous at the gate because heat exhaustion is a real threat.


On my last day at the gate, the ladies even made me a makeshift goodbye card – I’m Blue Bell for life now!



You know when you walk into a room and you immediately get that bad feeling that everybody was just talking about you? Then you start to wonder, “Were they saying something bad? Probably…I bet it was the story from the last office Christmas party, or maybe I forgot to turn my timesheet in…”

Well at Custer State Park, it’s the exact opposite.

Everyone here is just so nice. For instance, on my way to work this morning, a random park employee I had never met before stopped and started singing “High ho, high ho, it’s off to work we go!” to me to get me to smile. Trust me, it’s pretty hard to get me to smile in the morning, but this guy managed it.

I haven’t met one disingenuous person yet. Because I’m a woman, I pick up on little things. I always notice when the waitress is cranky and being passive aggressive when my male friends never do. I notice when other women are pretending to be nice but can’t wait to leave and tell their friends horrible things about me. Some men might say this is a bad ‘skill’ to have, but they don’t get it and never will (ladies, can I get an “Amen!?”).

But again, everyone here is just so nice. An older couple who live in a camper near our dorm cabins once brought us a pizza…just because. Craig Pugsley is always interested in how everyone is doing. A gate attendant named Bobbie is so hilarious and awesome that we’ve all met up for dinner with her a couple times. The secretaries even took time out of their day once to help me figure out where a mysterious cake came from (and then proceeded to help me eat it when we discovered that it was unclaimed).

Everyone my age is great too and on my first night I couldn’t believe it. Sarah was welcoming and hilarious and Beth’s sense of humor put everyone at ease – just to name a couple. The guys were equally as nice, but I still waited to encounter that one person who was going to mess everything up and be…not nice. A couple of days later, a volunteer named Tess walked up to the fire; she was tall, blonde, skinny and beautiful with some of the prettiest eyes I have ever seen, so my first thought was, “Oh, she’s going to think she’s better than all of us.”

I will forever be sorry for thinking that, because it immediately became clear that not only was she down to earth, she was goofy and friendly to everyone. She has turned out to be one of the most honest and hilarious girls I have ever met.

Actually, this is her.

Actually, this is her.

I wish more of the world operated like this place. We’re all going to die one day anyway, so why not be nice while we can? It’s just not worth it to be angry and hold grudges. When I see tourists on the side of the road looking confusedly at a map, I stop and ask if they need directions. When I get annoyed at how long someone is taking to get gas at the park shop, I get out and talk to them – I’ve met some really great people that way and even made friends with the Park Ranger intern (which I feel might come in handy). When I encounter an angry park visitor, I ask them what’s wrong and listen while they tell me about their horrible car/job/spouse/child, which is always the ultimate reason they’re cranky in the first place.

Trust me; it’s much more fun to run with the buffalo than it is to fight with them.