Wednesday, March 28, 2012

From Ohio to Jackson Hole and Back -- Slice of Life Challenge

While on vacation, I started telling my saga of moving to Jackson Hole and leaving the teaching profession.  There were some requests for me to finish the story, so this last week of the challenge seems like a good time to do so.

When I got to Jackson, Wyoming, the only job I could find was waiting tables at a restaurant (translated: a dive) called The Elkhorn Cafe, a place that was opened 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Many ranchers and locals frequented this eating establishment, and it was also a favorite spot for hunters in the fall.  I was a fish out of water when it came to being a waitress, but a job was a job.  I eventually transitioned from the ranching and hunting crowd to the skiing crowd when I took my not-so-highly-refined skills and became a waitress at a restaurant located in the Jackson Hole ski resort.

That job didn't last very long at all.  The second week I worked there, I dropped an entire tray of surf and turf orders.  I guess the good news was I didn't have to pay for the food and plates I destroyed; the better news for both the owner of the restaurant and me was that I was assigned to the hostess position the very next day.  It would seem that I had a much better skill set for that job -- I just had to be able to politely greet our customers; no balancing or coordination required.

However, as gorgeous as Jackson Hole was, it didn't take more than two months there to realize that I really did want to be a teacher and work with children.  One of my roommates was from Salt Lake City, and she was going home for a weekend in early November, so I decided to accompany her.  While there, I called the Granite School District (the school district that encompassed all of Salt Lake City at the time) to see what job opportunities were available.  Much to my surprise, they actually asked me to interview that weekend, and offered me a teaching position on the spot.  I accepted but with the caveat that I would finish my "ski bum" year in Jackson, and start teaching the following year.  What a bold and brash request that seems like in retrospect, especially in these times when jobs for teachers aren't always readily available.  Believe it or not, the school district agreed to hold a job for me until the next year.  I was so thrilled to know I would be teaching again, but also very happy to know I would still get my time in Jackson.  I think that's what is popularly known as having my cake and eating it too.

So after ten more months of fun and games in Jackson (learning to ski, getting frostbite, climbing the Middle Teton, becoming a tram operator /tour guide at the ski resort in the summer, living in a cabin with no running water, learning how to 2-step, and dating a cowboy, just to name a few things), I moved to Salt Lake City.  Much like my first job, I was given the job of special education teacher in a middle school, and I was teaching in a closet at the top of the school's auditorium.  Even with these similar circumstances, teaching just felt right this time.  I grew a lot as a teacher during my short tenure teaching in Salt Lake.

Fast forward two years, and I made my way back to Ohio -- the heart wanted to come closer to home.  Guess what my first job was in Columbus while waiting for a teaching job to be available?  That's right -- I was a waitress (and I still stunk at it!).

As always, thanks to Stacey and Ruth at Two Writing Teachers for hosting the Slice of Life Challenge!


  1. Wow, what an interesting path you took! I love your brashness at asking them to hold your job for you. :)

  2. Adventurous, brave and a go-getter. Amazing.

  3. What a fabulous story - you were quite adventurous! I love how much spunk you had and how you stuck to your dream of living in Jackson Hole for the year. What an experience. I am still smiling about the waitressing stories. I can just see you as a hostess - greeting and chatting with customers.
    More importantly, I am so thankful that you found your way back to OH - IO. And even more importantly, that you knew you had to teach... I know the world is a better place with you teaching.

  4. I'm so glad you finished the story. I've been wondering about it. Being given the new position of hostess made me think of my sister who was put on french fries at McDonald's after her drawer was short too many times. Math was not her forte! :)

  5. I'm glad I returned and read this, Karen. What a nice story of adventure and learning. I imagine you really needed this 'ski bum' job for a while, to get your head cleared, etc. I'm glad you returned to teaching!