Working at the Gas Station

Looks a lot like where I work!

A reader recently left a comment and asked if I was working at a new job.  The answer is yes.  I have stayed pretty quiet about the employment thing though.  The reason is that I wanted to give this job some time to see if it would work out.  So far things have been going well.

It took a while to find something that would work.  I’m not going to write a long rant (okay, a short one) about how bad some jobs are but if you haven’t worked at an entry level, low wage position for a while, it’s not like you remember twenty years ago.  Many treat you like crap because workers are plentiful.  Even during the recession, such jobs have been, too!

Some mistreated employees return the favor by treating the employer with as little regard.  I’ve had bosses at the last few jobs lament about how people quit as fast as they hired them.  In the back of my mind I was thinking there must be a reason.  After the “honeymoon period” (two or three weeks), I found out why the predecessors bailed out and the door didn’t hit me on the fanny.

I’ve been a job hopper at times as well as having friends who got a job, worked at it a month or two, and then moved on.  The truth is there are a lot of shi**y, low paid, overworked jobs out there. 

As a former supervisor I know that if you treat employees well, most folks will give you a notice before departing.  But I don’t blame some of them who quit without a notice – especially those who got screwed over.  Stuff happens and bosses reap what they sow.

With a little luck you will find a position and a manager you like.  I sure drew a lot of short straws before finding something a little better.  I’m working for a convenience store chain in Cedar Rapids at multiple locations.  This gig is better than most… and the position is a pretty good fit for the van living lifestyle…

So why is gas station work helpful for a vandweller wanting a modest paycheck?  I’ve listed some positives in no particular order…

  • Little contact with the bosses – I am on second shift most of the time.  Semi-autonomy is good!  If you show up on time, do the work, and keep the cash drawer balanced, that’s 95% of it.

  • Fairly low mental stress – virtually no multitasking.  If work gets overwhelming, I just slow down and breathe deep.

  • Fun – There is never a dull moment. Most customers joke around a little and make the job interesting. 

  • Rude people are in short supply.  Most customers are wonderful… The few difficult ones leave in a minute or so anyway.  Rude people give you a chance to learn and exercise good people skills. 

  • You build highly portable job skills with nearly universal applicability (making change, counting it back, operating lottery machines, ID’ing people, fixing pop dispensers, changing gas pump paper, knowing all the tobacco flavors, etc.)  Bosses like workers that they don’t have to train!

  • Low pay keeps me qualified for free Medicaid insurance through the state of Iowa as well as food stamps.

  • You can build friendships and networking relationships with the regulars.  I know a number of nice folks with hiring authority at local businesses.

  • Rest periods…  Many retail employers don’t give you a rest period even if you are older and need accommodation.  Thankfully, if you are working alone in a gas station, it’s not difficult to slip away from the camera at times and work in a few short rest breaks.

  • Anonymity… It’s easier to keep your vandwelling lifestyle “under the radar”.  Most of the people I work with know I live in my van at night but nobody cares. 

  • My time is my own.  When work is over for the day, I can disappear.  I’ve thought about camp hosting but am not enthused about being around a lot of noisy people, drunks, and cleaning up messes.  For me, camping is most enjoyable when alone… 

So there it is… Yep, I’m working 30 or so hours in a gas station and asking “Will that be credit or debit?”  It’s enjoyable work and has proven to be helpful for this vandweller.

Thanks for stopping by!

Bradford the “Van Trekker”

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About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"

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