Working at a restaurant is hard. There have been so many times when I have been yelled at for “messing up” an order, even if it was not my fault. I hate having to deal with angry customers but when I’m working I remind myself that someday I won’t have to handle difficult situations and customers left and right. My teachers are just like me in that way, they have all had some jobs that weren’t their favorite but those jobs helped lead them to a job they love.
“Every job has its virtues and bright sides,” said science teacher Leif Sivertsen.
Sivertsen said his hardest job was working as a stop and slow flagger when the pulp mill was closing.
“I only had four hour shifts but they were the longest four hours of my life,” said Sivertsen. “I passed time by trying to count as many different plants as I could see on the side of the road.”
Being a flagger made Sivertsen appreciate the hard work and long hours flaggers and other road workers do to keep everyone safe on the road.
“One time I let a motorcycle go by and I switched to stop. The dump truck was trying to come up the hill and the rest of the Harley’s blew right through by my sign,” said Sivertsen. “It was terrible and I felt so bad. I ended up only having that job for a week.”
Yearbook teacher Allegra Machado worked at Subway when she was in high school.
“It was the worst. I had to close the store at night and clean the bathrooms, and it was disgusting,” said Machado. “It made me really respect custodians and people who work for minimum wage. Now when I use public restrooms, I am really cautious about cleaning up because they get bombed and it’s disgusting.”
Machado said that it has affected the way that she parents her children and she reminds them they have to clean up their own messes because it’s disrespectful to leave it for someone else.
Similar to Machado, math teacher Evan Raber worked various small jobs, and a few of them still affect the way that he lives today.
One job that Raber had was working as a night janitor at his college’s basketball arena that seated 10,000.
“I’m a clock puncher, you know, go get your job done,” said Raber. “We had a list of duties and everyday there was a task to do, you were able to complete the task and grind away . . . and listen to books on tape.”
Raber also worked in a supermarket making donuts.
“It was the worst because I had to be there at three in the morning and I was young so I was out late,” said Raber. “I only did that for a few months and I still don’t eat donuts, and that was 15 years ago.”
While some teachers like Raber worked jobs to pay their way through school, Vice Principal Cole Maxwell was tired of studying and decided to drop out of college. He ended up taking a job at Missoula Concrete, where he made concrete blocks for septic tanks. Maxwell worked there for five months and made about one concrete block every two days.
“I stopped going to school and I just wanted to work. Then I had that job and said ‘no I have to go back to school and figure this out,’” said Maxwell. “So the best part about it was it made me go back to school but it was the worst job ever making concrete septic tanks.”
History teacher Leigh Woodward was 19 when she had her most difficult job. She came back to Ketchikan for the summer after her first year of college and worked in Misty Fjords National Monument for the Forservice.
“I thought that I was going to be doing interpreting on kayaks, but when I went out on one of the first trips and they saw that I could hike and work, so they immediately moved me to trail and cabin crew,” said Woodward.
She would spend two weeks out in the field making trails, camping the whole time. Woodward and the rest of her crew could only travel by kayak, and they weren’t allowed to use any power tools.
“I’ve never worked that hard in my entire life, we built trails and spent all day digging for 8 hours. That was it,” said Woodward. “We had honest eight hours everyday and we would have to pack everything, dig holes to poop, and hang our clothes to dry.”
Since Woodward was working such a labor intensive job, she didn’t have the kind of summer that she imagined she was going to have, but is happy she did it.
“It was almost perfect for me as a 19 year old because I probably would have gotten into a lot of trouble that summer if I wouldn’t have been out in the wilderness every single night and not in town with my friends.”
As well as keeping her out of trouble, Woodward said working in the Forservice made her more appreciative of her home.
“I grew to have an appreciation for the outdoors that I don’t really think I had before that,” said Woodward. “You grow up in Alaska and you’re like ‘oh it’s pretty’ but you don’t have a deep appreciation, and I think some of those deep appreciations come from when you’re with people from other places and they’re seeing how beautiful Alaska is.”