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Ron Aiels pumps gas and cleans a windshield for a customer at the Flying J Travel Plaza on Thursday afternoon. Aiels said that working on Thanksgiving gives him a special sense of satisfaction. “It is very gratifying because people are grateful that you are working. Everybody is in a good mood,” Aiels said. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
Working on Thanksgiving Day has its perks. Just ask Ron Aiels of Elgin, a maintenance employee at the Flying J Travel Plaza who put in an eight-hour shift Thursday.
Aiels said that working on Thanksgiving gives him a special sense of satisfaction.
“It is very gratifying because people are grateful that you are working. Everybody is in a good mood,” Aiels said as he pumped gas for a customer early Thursday afternoon.
Aiels said he volunteered to work on Thursday because he does not have family in the area and he wanted to give employees who do a chance to be with their families.
Bev Jenkins, a waitress at Flying J, also said that there is an upside to working on Thanksgiving.
“I get to be with a lot of people I know,” she said. “We have great customers.”
Missy Hoyt, a clerk at the Flying J, worked the Thanksgiving shift and said that working on the holiday is “great” and that she feels a kinship with customers on Thanksgiving, since many are traveling.
“They are missing Thanksgiving too,” Hoyt said.
Many of those travelers were professional truck drivers, including Delfe Gonzales of Salt Lake City. Gonzales said this was the first time he has worked on Thanksgiving and that he missed being with his wife and children for the holiday dinner. The solitary life truckers lead make missing a family meal harder.
“It does get lonely,” Gonzales said.
On the plus side the truck driver noted that he was looking forward to enjoying a Thanksgiving dinner with his sister in Fruitland, Idaho, later that day.
Fellow trucker Mike Ford of Dallas said that one of the benefits of working on Thanksgiving is that the roads have much less traffic.
“I wish that I could drive a lot further (on the traffic-free roads) but I can’t because of hours,” Ford said.
He explained that laws limit the number of hours a truck driver can be on the road over a set period of time.
Ford was hauling Christmas trees Thursday he had picked up in Philomath, just west of Corvallis. Ford was taking the trees to San Antonio, Texas.
Bill Sumner, a truck driver from Caldwell, Idaho, like Ford, appreciated the absence of traffic on Thanksgiving Day. It represented a stark contrast to Wednesday when he was stuck in traffic in Seattle as people clogged roads trying to get to holiday destinations.
“It took me 30 minutes to drive 10 miles,” Sumner said.
The hectic atmosphere in Seattle on Wednesday was a stark contrast to the easygoing one at the Flying J on Thursday. Andy Eves of La Grande, a gas attendant at the Flying J, noted that one of the pluses of working on Thanksgiving is that the pace of activity tends to be slower.
“It is more relaxed,” he said. “I get to enjoy the people and talk to them more.”