Thursday, November 10, 2011
"This place is hard on horses and women," is a common refrain. Many men have been abandoned by their mates and live in trailers or shacks with no running water or amenities. Couples that stay together make due with one of them working in a city, sometimes several states away. The women I've met are a striking, spirited group. I ran into feisty Donna yesterday. She'd been laid off from a newspaper management job in Missouri, collected unemployment for awhile but found her bored-self in the job service office after a few weeks, hunting for a new life. They had a list of jobs by pay scale. Her professional job was in the lower 25% and she said by the time she figured in overtime, she'd been lucky to make minimum wage. She looked at the top of the money list: heavy equipment operator. "Wish I could do that," she laughed. "Why couldn't you?" countered the job counselor. "Oh no, I couldn't do that." "Why not?" came the coy reply. Donna applied a government unemployment grant to the one year school and found her tiny, 50-something frame in southern Montana on a road project twelve months later. She said she made more in her first week than in six weeks at her prior job. She also said she got seasick her first few weeks from driving the water truck that never stopped rocking back and forth. She explained that she didn't get breaks and had to eat on the fly; she lost twenty pounds the first few weeks. But she loves it. She gets winters off, on unemployment. She joins hiking and gem clubs in new towns. Said she's going to try a gold panning group. She returns home to visit the hubby on the occasional weekend but said it didn't happen often: "Why work all week and come home to housework?"
There's another woman I want to talk to soon. She offers refuge to the primo hunter of this area, wolves. A subject of volatile proportions in this neck of the woods, she keeps a low profile.