randy’s grandfather once lived in this house which sits boarded up now next to the closed champion/stimson/bonner mill near missoula montana.
randy agrees to meet at river city grill in Bonner for coffee on the way to his shift at wal-mart. he points out historic photos of loggers on the wall. “some of those guys were friends of my grandfather’s. our family logged and worked in montana for generations. we were loggers and millwrights and it’s in our blood so much when we blow our noses sawdust comes out. now it’s over with and nobody gives a shit about us.”
randy is not joking. he’s not mad. just matter of fact. like most blue-collar workers, randy mistrusts those who say they are trying to help. life is now all about combing a wal-mart parking lot in missoula for stray carts for a less than sufficient wage that he is grateful for.
“hell, my brother laughed at me when i got this job at wal-mart last summer. i used to drive one of the biggest yard log loaders….made twice what i make now loading rail cars….he was a foreman, made twice what i made. now he’s still on unemployment, and today he envies my job. told me i made a smart move. wal-mart’s one of the only places left in the country where you can count on not getting laid off as long as you show up and do your job…their business is growing….i can’t remember the last time i ever thought that about logging and milling timber. must’ve been around the mid eighties i guess.”
randy has 3 kids and his wife wanda is a dental technician. they have managed to keep their heads above water but it has not been easy. randy had to sell off his nice truck and now makes the commute from the familily’s small mobile home in turah in a fifteen year old toyota celica with a crumpled fender and bald tires. the clock is showing us both that it’s time to go to work. randy leaves a couple of bucks on the table and gets up to leave. he pushes on the wal-mart baseball cap and slips his orange parking lot attendent reflective vest over his broad and still young shoulders….
“never ever thought i would say i was lucky to work for wal-mart. but i guess i am…”