This sort of reminds me of Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath…
Finding a new job today often requires thinking outside the box, and you can’t think much further outside the job search box than workamping.
By Michael Thornton
August 30, 2011
Where are the jobs? That question is on the minds of millions of Americans who have lost jobs during the Great Recession. During this historically lean jobs creation period, finding a new job often requires thinking outside the box. And you can’t think much further outside the job search box than “workamping” — also known as work-camping.
“The RV’s kitchen slide broke in Eutaw, Alabama, which is in the middle of the middle of nowhere. We managed. We were stuck in the mud in Clarksdale, Mississipi during a launch party for the anthology, Delta Blues. The tow truck driver who pulled our rig out of the mud jackknifed it and broke out the pickup’s rear window. Guess I can add my broken wrist to the list of oopsies.”
That’s how Suzann Ellingsworth described a couple of days in the workamping life she shares with her husband, Dave, as they drive their RV through the southern and plains states looking for work.
According to Workamper.com, a workamper is “an adventurous individual who has chosen a wonderful lifestyle that combines ANY kind of part-time or full-time work with RV camping. If you work as an employee, operate a business, or donate your time as a volunteer, AND you sleep in an RV (or on-site housing), you are a Workamper. Workampers generally receive compensation in the form of a free campsite, usually with free utilities (electricity, water, and sewer hookups) and additional wages.”
Calling it a “wonderful lifestyle” seems a bit over the top for some workampers. After communicating with Suzann for more than six months and observing the Ellingsworth’s ups and frequent downs, it’s obvious that workamping is not all fun and games, at least for those who hit the road in need of a job to survive.
Most workamper jobs are of the minimum-wage variety. Workampers generally don’t receive unemployment insurance benefits, severance pay or any warning that a job is about to end. Workampers face many of the same job insecurity issues as the millions of Americans who have been downsized due to job outsourcing, financial mismanagement and slow consumer demand for products and services, except workampers are purposely more nimble and have been conditioned to pack up and move to where the jobs are. “We have to be mobile to land a job,” said Suzann. Those who become jobless and live in traditional stationary homes aren’t usually able to move to another city on a moment’s notice.