A little over a month ago I took a pre-employment drug test. I went through my steps, emptying my pockets and providing a sample. I initial my vials and then stepped into the main office. At this point, the nurse looked at the paperwork and saw what the pre-employment test was for.
“Alaska? It’s too cold outside here now.” It was probably mid-fifties in Florida, about twenty to thirty degrees warmer than I’ve been getting.
It wasn’t just the weather that stopped her, of course living in Florida she was definitely used to warmth. But Alaska was far. I realized then that if people were surprised by what you were doing, you were probably doing something pretty interesting.
I’m certain it’s not too interesting for Alaskans who work in Alaska. Mark Adams, in Tip of the Iceberg, writes, “Three basic types of people live in Alaska… There are Native Alaskans, who’ve been there since time immemorial. There are people who have come north running toward something, usually a chance to do something unpleasant to make a lot of money quickly… And there are those who are running away from something.”
But if you’re hardy enough to make a living up here, you’re accepted in Alaska. it’s a different brand of the American Dream, though offered from the same manufacturer. And to many who reside in the lower 48, it’s just anomalous enough to be an interesting way of life.