In 1999, the very first year I began creating “On the House,” I wrote a column that began with this question: Where does one sign up to manage a rest area?
To this day, I still think I’d like to apply – especially now with viruses, riots and politics.
Take the rest stop at Gooseberry Creek between Meeteetse and Thermopolis, for example. That whole area has some interesting rock formations, and I would think that one might have all kinds of time to explore. After all, how time-consuming could maintaining these sites be? You stock the toilet paper and sweep the floors. Done.
Before the Wyoming Highway Department calls me, I know that folks are often paid not so much for duties as for responsibilities. And it is a big job to be the hospitality vanguard for the State of Wyoming. There would obviously be considerable pride in providing an “oasis in the desert” for the host of families with squirmy kids who should have used the restroom at the service station 50 miles back but “didn’t have to then.”
Oasis or no, I must tell you that the solitude a rest area would afford looks darned attractive at times. For one thing, I find the idea of going for days without carrying on a conversation with someone other than myself oddly appealing. Plus, there would be no phone solicitors. After all, how could those annoying people find me at Sweetwater Station, for example? Or at Waltman? I wouldn’t have to worry about a visit from weird Uncle Ned and Aunt Maude, either; my on-site quarters just wouldn’t be conducive to company.
In some ways, not having people around makes the more remote rest areas the most desirable. I don’t know that I’ve even seen a “Human-in-Charge-of-the-Rest Area,” let alone visited with one. Looks like people would pretty much leave me alone. I think I’d like that.
I doubt I’d get lonely since I’m partial to my own company. In other words, if I weren’t me, I’d like me, and I’d hang out with me. I have diverse interests, am reasonably pleasant to be around and have a good sense of humor. I don’t think I have too many disturbing habits like crunching ice or sniffling incessantly. I must say, I’m an “easy keeper.” I’d have to be, how else could I live at a rest area?
What would I do in my spare time? First, I think I’d read, read, read. I own stacks of books that folks have insisted I simply must explore. At a rest area, I could easily whittle away at the book pile. Moreover, I have a beautiful piano that I never really mastered well, so I could surely become a virtuoso in all my spare time. And of course, there’s the writing. I just need a computer and Wi-Fi, and I’d be set.
Yes, that solitary life looks quite pleasant some days. Even Emerson called solitude “the safeguard of mediocrity.”
On the other hand, what is the first thing folks always say about some nut on a crime spree?
“I didn’t know much about her. She was such a loner.”