Life in South Dakota: Meeting Scientists, Sitting Out Thunderstorms and Baking Cupcakes

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The title of this blog is deceptive, because there isn’t all that much going on in South Dakota.

However, for Alyssa and I, we’ve had quite the week in South Dakota. We started out in the western part of the state where we visited Crazy Horse Monument and Mount Rushmore. We also found ourselves lost in the middle of the largest biker rally in the world, as well as lost power in our RV during the craziest thunderstorm of our lives.

Argus Leader Newspaper
Argus Leader Newspaper

Our Week in South Dakota

Earlier this week we found ourselves in the middle of the largest biker rally in the world- Sturgis Rally in South Dakota, who knew? Apparently the half a million bikers who showed up.

I also feel the need to mention we found some of the best wifi in an RV campground in all of South Dakota. When you find a place with decent wifi, it’s kind of a luxury item. We ended up staying at the park for several nights and streamed our fair share of Netflix. They also had a heated pool and hot tub, this was part of our motive for staying as well.

Then we headed east towards Sioux Falls.

My double shift in Sioux Falls.

My whole mission is to work a different hourly job in every state. It wasn’t on my to-do list to work two jobs in every state. But when I found two places willing to hire me for the day, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity.

I spent Monday afternoon calling on local businesses before I got in touch with Ellyn Suga, owner of Shop Dog Boutique. She’s a young entrepreneur, 28 years old, and opened up her own boutique for dogs two years ago in a nice part of Sioux Falls. They are all about great customer service, good music, and dogs, of course. Ellyn will haul your bag of dog food out for you, rain or shine, and she also has the coolest dog ever- Etta.

Our phone call went a little like this.

“Hi, my name’s Heath Padgett and my wife and I are traveling across the U.S filming a documentary about hourly workers. I found your business on Google and it looks awesome. Could I come and work with you for the day?”

“Um… sure?”

A half hour after I confirmed to work with Ellyn, I received another email from a potential employer called Oh My Cupcakes. I wasn’t about to turn down baking cupcakes so I asked if it would be possible to work a morning shift and then head over to Shop Dog Boutique for my afternoon work time.

They agreed and it was all set, I would work my first double-shift.

My Day at the Office

9:33 AM OhMyCupcakes

My day at work began with handling raw cookie dough. The early morning workers at Oh My Cupcakes left me plenty of dough to work with, so I had a full morning of getting my hands all gooey and whatnot.

As the morning went on I shadowed different cupcake “ninjas” (what they call themselves) and did my best to not do an “awful” job at putting icing on the cupcakes. Although one of the girls didn’t hold back at telling me how truly terrible I was at decorating them.

Meeting the people

I met some pretty awesome cupcake ninjas during my shift.

Interviews at OhMyCupcake
Interviews at Oh My Cupcake

Geraline, one of my coworkers, grew up in a Hutterite Community. I’d never heard of the Hutterites, but they are essentially a more modern farming community, similar to the Amish. On her sixteenth birthday her present was to cook a meal for the entire community of two hundred people as is the tradition. On her eighteenth birthday, she snuck out in the middle of the night and ran away. A year later, she has restricted access to seeing her family. Her father will occasionally lie about his whereabouts in order to come into Sioux Falls and see his daughter. It’s looked down upon for men or women to leave the community.

I also met Erica. A quirky single mother of a seven year old girl who wakes up at 3AM and starts the day early so she can spend her afternoons playing with her daughter Addison.

Michelle is a mother of three who left her salaried job at a doctor’s office in order to pursue using her creativity in a place that allowed her to do so. She said people used to look at her with a lot of respect in her old position, but she just sat at a phones all day and answered them. Now, she gets to sell people happiness via cupcakes. You tell me what’s better.

Mariah was another worker who worked her way up from dishwashing to now assisting the owner in day to day work. While pursuing her degree, she also managed to land the Miss South Dakota title, and did so with an alarmingly thick Minnesota accent. Well done, Mariah.

Screen Shot 2014-08-15 at 8.07.56 AM
Ellyn’s puppy

My Afternoon shift was spent at Shop Dog Boutique where I worked in puppy retail, checking people out with their dog supplies.  There is a lot less action in retail than in a high intensity cupcake bakery, but I have a mad passion for dogs so I enjoyed helping people find their dog treats.

Hannah, from Shop Dog Boutique. Hannah was my coworker and she’s a registered nurse who works full time at the hospital. It’s her love for dogs that pushed her to want to get a second job as an hourly worker at Shop Dog Boutique.Me and the Shop Dog Boutique Team

Meeting the scientist

After leaving Sioux Falls we hit the interstate and headed north towards our next stop in Fargo, North Dakota.

We found an RV park a short drive away from Fargo and upon pulling in we noticed a giant class A RV with the words painted in large letters on the side. It also had pictures of space and other things, intrigued? Ya, me too.

After we settled in, I did a quick google search and found out the people inside are another young couple who quit their jobs and are traveling the country.

Crazy, right? The husband’s name is Ben and he recently graduated from law school and then spent a few years doing professional research at an investment firm. He hated it, so he started to pursue more work related to his undergraduate degree in meteorology. Based on his own algorithms he created a daily youtube channel to share his findings and over the last three years has grown it to over 200,000 subscribers.

People love it.

Ben isn’t an ordinary scientist. During his undergraduate degree he was using an unorthodox means of predicting the weather, the sun’s patterns. Out of all the other students, his calculations were more spot on than all of the other students. However, his professors were failing him because he wasn’t doing his research based on the “traditional means” of how they taught. They encouraged him to find a new career.

He did it his own way and now his quarter of a million followers just donated $60,000 to a cross country road trip where he’s still doing a daily web show and can increase his outreach of the program.

He’s also just a really cool guy.

Mobile Observatory
Mobile Observatory

Our Next Adventure

We’re hitting the road this morning and headed towards Fargo, North Dakota where I’ll be working at a German beer hall. Awesome, right? I’m stoked as well, there isn’t much going on in Fargo, but we’ll be at a happening place I suppose. If you want to see how the job went before my next post on Monday, check out our Facebook and Twitter for pictures and stories.

Parting Wisdom

My current reading is a book by Marcus Aurelius called Meditations. Here’s an excerpt.

“Not to feel exasperated or defeated or despondent because your days aren’t packed with wise and moral actions. But to get back up when you fail, to celebrate behaving like a human—however imperfectly—and fully embrace the pursuit you’ve embarked on.”

I find myself constantly beating myself up for not being good enough or messing up yesterday. I’m learning more and more, the key is figuring out a way to put the past behind you and acknowledge you’re simply human. People will always make mistakes, the less time you spend mourning over the mistake then the less of a mistake it was.

Yours in love and being awesome,