08 April 2020

Helena Handbasket


This tweet from this day (full list here) reminded me of when I applied (and interviewed) for a job with the state department of education in Montana. It was a research position and they were looking for someone with more of a statistical background than I possessed.

And I was never so relieved in my whole life to not be offered a job.

They would have been perfectly content to interview me by phone, but I couldn't imagine what would happen if the job felt like a good fit and I accepted it without ever seeing the town or getting a sense of the workplace. So, off I went on a road trip across Washington, a chunk of Idaho, and on into Montana. A lot of the drive was beautiful. Helena was not. I realize it was just getting into Spring after a long Winter, but the entire town—buildings, cars, roads, everything—was the same shade of brown from all the sand and mud. I tried to like it. Honest. I spent time visiting little stores to try and get a feel of what people were like. I ate in the mom and pop restaurants. I drove through neighbourhoods to see housing and schools and how people lived. And while I have no doubt whatsover that there are thousands of people who are very happy there, I knew that I wouldn't be.

Mind you, this all happened less than three months before the job I had at the time went away (a story for another time) and I was forced to take a job I really didn't want for the upcoming year...but even then, I never looked wistfully in the direction of Helena. And still haven't.

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