The Whitehall Ledger - Serving Southern Jefferson County in the Great State of Montana

By Jack H. Smith
Whitehall Ledger 

Column: Miserable


October 30, 2019

Southwest Montana is a really wonderful place to both work and live and I'm truly blessed to call the Treasure State home.

I've lived and worked all over the western United States and Montana truly is a special place. I wish I could say that about everywhere I've worked, but I can't.

When I was a little bit younger, I was more than a little bit impulsive and I would get "ants in my pants" and never want to stay at the same newspaper job for too long. I wanted a new adventure and I would go on one.

Looking back, this probably wasn't my brightest idea, but I did learn a lot from a variety of interesting people. So, I guess there was a plus in my travels and I would always get hired back at my job in Wyoming when I returned so I know that the work I was doing was quality.

I try to keep fond memories of most of the jobs and locations, but I really don't have anything positive to say about my time in Eastern Oregon. The highlight of my trip was when I finally made it out of the county knowing I would never have to return.

I've got nothing against the state of Oregon, in fact, there are many wonderful places I've visited with some amazing people. My biggest gripe with the state was the fact that when I lived there, I wasn't allowed to pump my own gas which for some reason really irritated me. I think probably it was the fact that I didn't make a lot of money and I always felt bad if I needed to just put in $5 for some trips around town.

Back to the job in Oregon, I was very excited about the opportunity to work in the state and work for what had a reputation as a very quality newspaper.

I was trying to find a place to live before I arrived in town, which I will not mention because I don't even want to type the name but was having no luck.

I called one ad from the classified section of the paper and the lady who answered yelled at me for trying to rent a house when I had not moved to town yet. This should have served as a warning of the way people would treat me, but I just let it slip and made the move.

I stopped by the paper when I arrived in town and while it was very nice, the environment was cold. There were offices and cubicles, no newsroom and chatter. It was an odd silence that permeated the building. This only got worse as the days went by.

There were a few great people I worked with, as well as a few that taught me a lot, but I have never been so uncomfortable at work in my life. I felt nervous that I would get in trouble talking to the nice people too much and that is no way to be at work. If you're going to be somewhere 40 plus hours a week it might as well be happy. Of course, get your work done, but have a little fun too.


Things were not any better around town. People were flat out rude to me. I was an outsider, and nobody wanted me there. Even trying to get interviews at times was a nightmare because people wouldn't even return a call. I tried to meet a few people, but it never worked so I spent most of my time outside of work alone. I really wish I would have known how cool cats were at the time because that could have kept me company.

I was learning so much from the management, but I was miserable. One day when I got yelled because my beard was "too long", I had enough and walked out the door and never came back. I'm sure it had nothing to do with a beard, it was just the way the place was and the "dress code" seemed to change one day to fit my beard.

I sometimes hate thinking about that place and how cold it was, but it did teach me that you don't need to be miserable in your job or where you live. Find what you want to do and where you want to do it.


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