Tuesday, October 07, 2003

You may be wondering how I found Nebraska. Well, I drove northeast on Interstate 76 and there it was! But seriously, folks, unless you've ever been out that way it's totally unlike anything you've ever seen, or at least unlike anything I've ever seen.

First and foremost, there's the horizon. Now I realize that the horizon can be seen from almost any outdoor location in the world, and indeed we have a view of that very same horizon from right here in the Bluegrass State. But nothing prepared me for the unobstructed, unblemished, unadulterated, absolutely free and clear view of the horizon I got upon arrival in the Cornhusker State. As far as the eye can see, in every direction, sky. No mountains, trees, houses, anything there to block the view. Well, those things, the houses and trees (and the occasional hill) were there, but they were either close to the road or waaay off in the distance, looking like small blotches on the very rim of the Earth. As someone who lives in a hilly area with lots of trees and houses to break up the skyline, I couldn't get over it. It was quite beautiful, actually, and we saw a couple of gorgeous sunsets and one sunrise.

There were several towns in the area where we were, but most were very small communities, with maybe one or two neglected rundown buildings and a handful of houses. And the ever present grain elevators and water towers. You could always tell when you were approaching a town by the sight of those. All these towns were several miles apart, in a straight line down the highway in each direction. There were a couple of larger towns, like Chappell and Potter, which we visited, but the town where we were lodged, Sidney, was the biggest in the immediate area.

Brief aside: none of the restuarants in Sidney (except for a Taco Bell), nor any of the planes on which we flew, served Mountain Dew. I was fiending like a crazy man for some of that sweet golden caffienated elixir, let me tell you. Fortunately, the aforementioned KFC/Taco Bell and the convienience stores in the area carried it, so my cravings were sated. This could be a problem should I get the job offer and live there. Another trouble spot: the cable TV in our hotel room didn't have Turner Classic Movies. Now, I don't know if that's just not in the package that the hotel subscribes to, or if it's unavailable. It's one thing to expect me to live without Dew, but no TCM either? Aaaagh!

Anyway, back to the town. Understand one thing: in Sidney, Cabela's rules. It is the 200 pound (stuffed) gorilla in Sidney's room. Cabela's has its own water tower (but no grain silo) and zip code. It owns the hotel in which we stayed, and the road on which it is located is Cabela's Drive. I would imagine that if Cabelas ever decided to move its HQ then the town would dry up and blow away. It sits, both headquarters and huge mega store, next to the Interstate on a hillside overlooking the town, which is, like most small towns of its ilk, one long main street with several buildings on each side surrounded by railroad tracks and lots of houses. They have one movie theatre on that main street, which has two screens (a potential problem there as well- I think the closest multi-screen theatre is an hour and a half away...NetFlix here I come). In case you were wondering, Secondhand Lions and Open Range were showing there. Gas is higher there than here, about $1.56 for regular compared to about $1.32 in Bowling Green right now. The people all seemed to be pretty much regular folks, mostly farmers with, I'm sure, a lot of Cabela's employees and employees of other area industries mixed in. We were treated nicely wherever we went.

We just happened to be there for one of their big throwdowns, the annual Sidney Oktoberfest, which took place in a fairgrounds on the outskirts of town, in a big red and white striped circus tent with lots and lots of dust floating around in the air, especially in the evening. If I had seen a dwarfwalking around with a fedora and a cane, I would have seriously freaked, thinking myself in an episode of Carnivale. There was lots of beer and brats, and other good stuff; craft tents, which Mrs. Bacardi loved, and music going on all day- mostly local people performing country songs some pretty badly and some not so badly. The highlight of this was a group which featured several senior citizens backing up this younger (than them, anyway) woman who sang songs by George Jones and Kris Kristofferson. The rhythm guitarist was extremely cool. He was an elderly, weathered-looking gentleman in a mesh baseball cap who belted out this great country song, the name of which escapes me. He was great- I would have paid for an entire set by that guy.. We also caught a set by a group called "The Musky Steers", which featured a pair of gentlemen who couldn't carry a tune in a 18-wheeler. Apparently they used up all their imagination in thinking up that great name. There was also a Scottish bagpipes corps from Denver which performed that evening, and they were excellent. We considered staying for the polka band that was scheduled to play next, but we were both tired from that busy day and all the walking around and the dust, so we went back to the hotel. We made some pictures, so I'll be sure to post a few when we get them developed.

The interview itself took place in Cabela's headquarters located behind the retail store. I got a nutshell tour of their very impressive (and very big) catalog production department, met some of the guys I'd be presumably working with and got a rundown of what they did, met with the HR lady who ran down the benefits, pay structure, relocation system, and so on, then met the department head, went to have lunch with the group supervisor and one of the other retouching guys, which went well (I suppose). The workplace is thankfully casual, and most of the men and women appear to be my age or younger, which is just fine with me. I then got the dreaded "we still have a couple of others to talk to" statement as we parted, so your guess is as good as mine if they're still interested in me. Only time will tell, I guess.

So that, to make a short story long, is the story of my little adventure. I've probably omitted something or another, and if I have I'll be sure to add it later. All in all, I enjoyed my stay in Sidney, which is a nice, rural type town, was very impressed by Cabela's catalog production department, and am very interested in the job itself. As I so often say around here, we shall see what we shall see...

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