Behind-the-scenes interviews with Medora employees | By Jewel Eliese
Maybe you’ve seen her?
It may have been during one of the employee campfires, or at the Life Skills Center where she sits with people from every country, or perhaps you met her while she was behind the counter of the Rough Riders Gift shop totaling up your purchase.
One of the things tourists look forward to when they come to Medora is the chance to wander around and browse the many gift shops sprinkled around town.
Employees enjoy it as well (and the discount!).
I tend to find myself in the Rough Riders Gift shop on my way to get dinner from the Badlands Pizzeria or Maltese Burger, and I always seem to run into one particular seasonal worker. My kids even know her name and call it out with smiling faces.
She is a pleasure to speak with and was generous enough to let us share a conversation with you.
1. Where are you from?
I am from Western Pennsylvania. The bigger cities in Pennsylvania are Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, which is almost in Ohio, and I live about two hours north of that in a little town called Newcastle. I live on a small, not really functional farm, which has about 40 acres. Small amount of land compared to North Dakota!
2. Why Medora?
I came here with an organization called CRU, which stands for Campus Crusade for Christ. They do summer mission trips and send groups of students to different parts around the whole world. I didn’t really have any preference of where I wanted to go with that organization, but I knew I didn’t want to be at, one, the beach or, two, in a city. So I ended up here in Medora.
At first, I didn’t think there would be anything special about it but, as I’ve spent time here, I’ve realized I really like this town. I would come back here, even without CRU.
The people are so nice. I haven’t met one unkind person here at all. I have been here for a month and a half now, and I don’t feel homesick at all because there are so many people looking out for me, even people that aren’t in CRU. There are definitely family values here.
The first impression I had of Medora was when my co-worker Mrs. Marsha from the Ferris Store bought me a hamburger, fries and a coke. She was like, “Ah, I gotcha. I’ll buy you lunch.” It was wonderful.
That’s just that’s how it is in Medora. People are kind to each other here.
3. What’s the best part (besides hamburgers) of working in retail?
I really, really like the people.
Before I came here I sometimes worried about how people can be stressed on vacation, but Medora is not like other places where you must rush and do everything. People come here and are a bit more relaxed, and taking time to see the sights and enjoy themselves.
The tourists are great to talk to.
I am learning the United States Geography just by asking, “Hey, where are you from?” and they tell me, “Well that’s north of here.” So that’s been fun, piecing together the North Dakota and Western Geography.
I really like working with the kids, too, because it is such a family-friendly town and there are so many little happy kids running around. It’s fun to just say “hi” to them, and see if you can get them to smile.
4. Since you work at the Rough Riders Gift Shop, what is something you would buy from there?
Well, especially at the store where I work, there are way too many things to pick from. I actually had to set myself a buying limit. They just have a lot of really unique items there that you could not find anywhere else. For instance, we have real taxidermy rattlesnakes that are extremely terrifying.
And really cute clothes.
If you buy a dress from there no one will be wearing the same thing as you. Anywhere. And just nice quality things like helpful kitchen gadgets that you didn’t know you needed (you do). Unique, good quality products, fitting for unique Medora.
5. What is your hidden talent?
Whenever I have free time and I’m at home I love cooking and baking. Recently I made these sort of cakes called Lamingtons, which are a dessert from Australia. They are little cubes of yellow sponge cake and then you dip it in chocolate and coconut flakes. It’s a lot of steps to make but it’s actually pretty easy, but they look like you put a lot of work into them.
6. What is one way you hope Medora will change your life?
One thing I am hoping for is to gain a broader perspective of what people’s lives are like in the rest of the world, which is already happening.
Since living here, I have friends from all over the place like Dominican Republic, Lithuania, Ukraine, Kazakhstan. Everywhere. And it is so fun to ask, “What’s your life like?” or “What’s a normal day in Ukraine?”
You sit down at a table with people from three different countries and they’re all speaking their second language to you. I feel like my blinders have been blown off, and I am able to absorb all these different perspectives. Another thing I have been learning because of living here in Medora is that in America we always ask, “How are you?” and then just walk away. It’s just a greeting and people notice that. I hope my life will change just to actually mean it when I ask people how they are. Already I mean it more every day.
7. Since you’re an English major, what’s your favorite book?
‘Till We Have Faces’ by CS Lewis. It’s a Greek myth about two sisters and he wrote it because the myth itself had a lot of plot holes. He wanted to fix them and it is a great and deep story.
7. What is one question that no one has ever asked you but you wish they would?
At my church in Pennsylvania every Sunday night, we go through this catechism question that kind of reminds us of the point of life. I’ve always wanted someone to ask me this, one, because I could see if I’d memorized it and, two, just because it’s important to know where your true hope comes from.
The question is, “What’s your only comfort in life and death?
So the answer is, “That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.”
A little bit further down in the passage is my favorite part, “He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my Heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head. Indeed, all things must work together for my salvation.” I would like people to ask me that to remind me that all things work together for good and that in Jesus we have hope for the rest of our lives.
Be sure to stop in and say ‘hello’ and ‘how are you’ to Evelyn on your way around town.
Evelyn, thank you for speaking with us, and we hope to try those cakes on International Night. Yum.