In the fall of 1992 I was teaching high school in Ojai, California, and one fall weekend another teacher and I went to the farmers market in nearby Ventura. As we stood in line at an apple booth, the vendor — whose pace cutting apple samples was outstripped by customer demand — offered us $50 to duck under to the other side of the counter and help him sell apples for a couple of hours. We did, not for the extra cash but for the lark of it. It felt great to be needed and it was fun to help someone with their small business.
Later, after the market, the orchardist introduced us to other market vendors as we were all packing up. Although we were never needed to sell apples again, every time we returned to that farmers market we felt like we were in the club.
I had had a similar experience a few years prior, when some Outward Bound friends, whose business in the building block game Ta-ka-radi predates Jenga, needed workers to count wooden blocks into bags for LL Bean, Lands’ End and other retailers. The job didn’t require me to draw upon math skills honed in my high school calculus class, but it was purposeful, fun, and resulted in a few friendships that I wouldn’t have otherwise made.
In 2008, the Winthrop columnist for the Methow Valley News resigned her post and I answered the classified ad, quite possibly the only person to do so. Just 14 years later, I am famous at the elementary school, where they spread out old newspapers to keep paint off of desks during art projects. (“Look Leki,” I overheard another second-grader say to my daughter years ago, pointing to my picture on the back page as they layered Valley Life sections on their desks. “It’s your grandma.”)
I think about these side hustles almost every time I hear of another job posting in the Methow Valley. Unless you’re completely detached from community life here, you’re probably aware that there are more than a few job opening. In fact, the valley is a veritable treasure trove of employment opportunities right now — and, unfortunately for employers, probably for the foreseeable future.
If you’re new to the Methow Valley, or if you’re not new but you want to engage more fully, there’s no better way to get to know the community from the inside than to get a job (or volunteer) here. If you’re in your early career, working in different fields allows you to discover what you like doing, what’s not a good fit, and what you might want to pursue in the future.
If you’re seeking ways to feel integrated into the community, a job makes you an essential part of it. Working gives structure to your time and helps the inner machinery of a rural economy keep on humming.
In addition to the full complement of service and hospitality jobs, there are some once-in-a-lifetime gigs. You could, for example, be a luge operator at Loup Loup Ski Bowl. Throw in Zamboni driver and Stihl technician — both of which were jobs available earlier this winter — and you’ve got the trifecta of Methow Valley employment on your resume.