I don’t think I am going to break this decade into topics like I did with previous chapters because all parts of life kind of flowed together in to one great whole. (Maybe that is a sign of maturity?) Also, there is absolutely no way I can include all the details of things we did as a family, with all the children’s activities, the vacations, the church involvement, and so forth. So, this is where my posterity will have to be forgiving that I did not include something they thought I should. Again, if I have excluded something you felt noteworthy, I encourage you make the time to record those vivid memories in your personal histories. I talk a lot about work in this section because that is where I spent a lot of time, and my dedication to work directly affected my responsibilities as a husband, father, and provider. We did a lot of family activities. Most of the time I felt like I kept a good work and home life balance. I guess my wife and children are the best judges as to whether I succeeded at that in each of their memories.
Upon returning from serving a full-time mission, I was only in Preston a few short days. I intended to return to BYU in the fall and I wanted to go down to see if I could secure work. My Aunt DeVonna and her husband divorced while I was in the mission field, and I asked if I could stay with her in her Orem, Utah. I would pay her rent each month, but also help with inside and outside chores. She was eager for the company and help. Staying with her was very enjoyable, and ultimately very life impacting.
The first place I looked for work was Deseret Industries, the thrift store chain owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As mentioned before in chapter five, they also operated the humanitarian aid center that I had worked at for only three months before leaving to South Africa. That day, I walked out of the human resource department disappointed. They said they did not have an opening for me. As I was leaving the building, I happen to run into Garret Davis who had been my manager before. He couldn’t believe two years had gone by already. He asked me what my plans were. I told him the intent to go to school at Brigham Young University, and that I had just been told there was no work there. He said, “Come back tomorrow ready to work. I will have a job for you.”
He told me how he liked Idaho farm boys who knew how to work. I started there at $6.00 per hour as a forklift driver, which was pretty good for a entry level job at that time period. Garret was the congenial, cowboy-type, fleet manager. His team of drivers and dock workers respected him. He knew how to make people feel cared for, but also knew how to encourage and push them to grow and get things done. It was his suggestion that I get my commercial driver’s license so I could drive large semi, tractor-trailer trucks. My thought was, “I don’t need that. I am going to school to be an exercise physiologist.” Wow! I used that CDL for decades in all kinds of capacities.
The Deseret Industries location had a cafeteria that all employees could eat at if they wished, including the humanitarian center workers. I was not aggressively looking to date ladies much, I was quiet and reserved in personality, but I did enjoy meeting new young ladies, especially in a casual, non-committal place like the cafeteria and just talk as friends with no expectations. One day I saw a gal I had never seen before, and asked if I could sit next to her. I barely got her name, …Marya, before she got up and left.
Well, fortunately, the reason she left was because she was done eating and had to get back to work at the humanitarian aid center where she sorted clothes. Her quick departure didn’t have anything to do with me. We had many lunches together. I didn’t ask her out, because, as I said, I had only been home from the mission field a short time, and was not looking for anything in the terms of a steady relationship yet.
My Aunt DeVonna also worked at the humanitarian aid center. Well, this might be a news flash, but women talk to each other about life. And before too long DeVonna told me if I didn’t ask Marya out I was going to lose my chance. Marya and I had spent enough time together by that time that I knew I had feelings for her. I decided to act. And…then the well known phrase, “The rest is history”…Let me think…I don’t remember the time frame exactly, I think it was June when we first met (when she got up and left), we started dating in August, and by October I had bought the ring. It was in my pocket the first time I traveled to Driggs, Idaho to meet her family. She didn’t know it. I was ill because I was so nervous. On Saturday we went on a horseback ride up the Aspen trail just east of her house. We stopped and got off the horses at a break in the trees, a good spot to see the valley, and I knelt down and asked her to marry me. She burst into tears. But, she didn’t say yes. There was a slight complication. She had dated a young man quite seriously before he had left to serve a full-time religious mission. She had to make the final decision in her heart as to whether to accept my offer or wait for his return to see how their relationship might progress. That evening we drove up to a lookout point where we had a magnificent view of the Grand Teton mountains, and she said yes. We decided to be married after BYU got out in May. That was a looooonnnng engagement, seven months, it was way too long. We were married in the Idaho Falls temple on May 7, 1992 the same day as her mother’s birthday. (Under those circumstances, DeVonna was not sad to see me move out. She told people she was the one who played match maker because I was being so “chicken”. She was right.) Marya and I enjoyed a honeymoon to the Oregon coast. Not only because it is a beautiful place, but so Marya could also meet my family that lived up there.
Not long after I had asked Marya to marry me. Garret had convinced his up-line leaders that I would make a great addition to the more permanent team. Up to then I was paid by the hour only with no benefits. I was offered a salary position as a supervisor over the receiving dock. This came with pay increase, paid vacation, paid sick leave, retirement saving, health insurance, etc. Of course, I said yes. I had a family to start, and this seemed like a great blessing. (Garret cared for his people, and did what he could on their behalf.)
My Grandpa Byington helped us buy a small two bedroom trailer home just down the street from my work. We paid him a reasonable interest rate on his loan to us. We were grateful for his generosity. It was a humble place, but it served our needs well. I could walk to work, which made our one car available for Marya to use during the day. We felt impressed not to wait to start a family. Just shy of eleven months after we were married, Taylor Durtschi Moosman joined our family. Marya didn’t like the huge Provo, baby factory/hospital, so Taylor…and, later, Caleb Christian Moosman were born in the Payson, Utah hospital. At that time, Payson was a smallish town on the edge of the populated areas of Utah Valley. (Not any more. Payson is crowded now.)
As a supervisor over the dock at Deseret Industries, I was also considered a job coach. One of the main missions of Deseret Industries is to help individuals with mental or physical disabilities, or work skills challenges, improve their abilities to be able to get jobs in the standard competitive marketplace. The more I fulfilled those responsibilities, the more I grew to love that work, and decided to make working for Deseret Industries, and with those having challenges like that, my life career. I chose to stop attending college and put my efforts into my work and my young family.
With Garret’s mentorship and support, I learned and accomplished a great deal. When I started, the donations were received mostly by drive up donations by the thrift store but had no method for real efficient handling before being put on the sales floor. There were piles of stuff everywhere in the receiving area. Through some redesign of the drive-up donation area, and implementing an organized system for sorting the donations…Within three years of my adjustments with Garret’s encouragement, patience, and support, the production department (who priced and cleaned items) was able to order the boxes of various types of things they wanted to process to put on the sales floor from my department.
I also learned that you have to prove your needs to upper management by statistics, so you could get the man power, and equipment needed to do the job well. I developed a method to count and track the number of cars that donated on a daily and hourly basis. It wasn’t a flawless system, but over time, patterns begin to emerge to help gauge how to schedule my crew. An average of over 300 cars per day donated at that location. Week days, and winter was slower of course, but weekends and summers were crazy…It was a good thing I was young, energetic, and healthy. It took a lot out of me. Through these statistics we were able to prove we were the busiest donation location of all the Deseret Industries stores. Construction began on a new building in 1996 and I helped provide input on the design of the three-lane donation area and the square footage needed for a proper sort and storage area.
I served in the young men’s organization in the Church ward in Provo. My favorite memory was hiking to Mount Timpanogos three times. Two of them mostly at night, and arriving on top to see the sun rise. This is where my love for hiking mountain trails started.
We had always wanted to get back to Idaho, so I had turned my resume into the Idaho Falls Deseret Industries during one of our trips to see family. I was offered a lateral responsibility position as job coach and dock supervisor there. We moved to Idaho in 1996. I was able to make similar changes in Idaho Falls as I made in Provo. But, it was not nearly as large of scale, and with not nearly as much trial and error thanks to experience.
We rented a house for a few months in Idaho Falls while looking for a place to “put down roots”. I don’t remember how we found it, but we bought an acre of ground in the middle of farm country. We ordered a home that was assembled in Boise and shipped to the site. The term used for this type of home was a manufactured home. It was a nice little home for our little family. By that time we had both Taylor and Caleb. I’ll tell you more about the home later.
Side note. Caleb often didn’t go to sleep well at night. We would stay up with him and watch the news and then Star Trek The Next Generation television series. Maybe that is why he likes science fiction so much now.
Our ward in Rigby, Idaho, called the Shelton ward, was amazing. There was a strong unity there, and we made many great friends. I served in the young men’s organization. There was something unique about the group of boys there. Because of the location of the ward boundaries, the boys went to three different school districts, so when they got together during the week or on Sunday’s it was new and fresh, they had not spent all week seeing each other at school. This dynamic seemed to help them NOT to take each other for granted as much as many groups in an area do with a lot of Latter-day Saint population.
After about a year and a half working in Idaho Falls, the area manager asked me if I would accept a position as Assistant Manager in the Rexburg location. Yes! By title it was another advancement. But, actually it was more of a lateral move again. Rexburg was smaller than Idaho Falls. My learning and duties expanded to cover the sales floor crew when the manager was not present. Loren Rogers and I made a good team. I enjoyed working with him.
Again, I was able to help improve the efficiency of the receiving dock. When we moved into a larger location I was able to design the receiving area and production area from “bare walls” into an efficient donation processing system. I enjoy this kind of creative challenge.
Sapphire and Crystal were born while we lived in the Rigby/Ririe area (we were about half way between the two towns). Our little three-bedroom, two-bathroom home was now quite full. It was right around 1000 square feet. It became obvious, if we wanted to grow more we either need to add on to the house or sell and find something bigger.
I began discussing with Deseret Industries leadership the possibility of qualifying for the next advancement. After all, they had asked ME to become a supervisor in the first place. I did initiate the desire to transfer to Idaho, but again, they had approached me about taking the position as assistant manager in Rexburg. I was good at what I did. I was good with systems, and with few exceptions my crew enjoyed my leadership. The answer I got was that I couldn’t qualify for the next promotion without a college degree. Well, with my small family’s temporal needs, time, and emotional needs, how was I going to do that? (Ricks College, the closest college was still only a two-year school at that time. Idaho State in Pocatello was the closest four year school. On-line college degrees were not an option yet.) I still enjoyed my work, but I became a bit “put out” by the response I got. Please don’t get me wrong. I feel a college education is a great way to get qualified in knowledge and skill to make a positive contribution to a work force and to a community you live in. My frustration is… that so many seem to think it is the ONLY way, and they pass by very good candidates for that reason and that reason only, no college degree. Some examples of why I thought this policy didn’t make sense: The manager of the Provo store had a degree in agriculture. Another manager I knew had a degree in political science. Neither of those degrees had ANY application in the jobs they were actually doing. My questioning of wisdom in the practice or ONLY hiring those with college degrees started then and continues to this day. Why is so much emphasis put on that piece of paper by so many when often it doesn’t apply to the position needing to be filled and its responsibilities? In my experience, the important thing is a person take responsibility for their learning whether it is formally obtained in a classroom, on the job, or through life experience. Those who take responsibility do make a significant contribution to most any environment they are in.
Anyway, at that point, I felt stuck career wise. It looked like I would either need to change careers or figure out a way to make the time and come up with funds to go back to school. As much as I enjoyed working for Deseret Industries the pay was not on the generous side. After all, it is a nonprofit organization. Supporting the needs of a family of six didn’t leave much wiggle room since we decided right from the “get go” we wanted Marya to be able to stay at home with the children.
Then something came “out of the blue”. Marya’s father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and began to deteriorate physically and mentally. Her mother, Joan, called us and asked if we would move to Driggs and help her take care of him. The next day she called and retracted the request feeling that it was too much to ask of us. But, not long after she called again to ask for help.
We prayed about it and decided to make the move and see how it would go. We chose not to sell our home in Rigby in case it did not work out. We made the move motivated by the desire to help Marya’s parents, but our own family still took priority. On March 1, 1999 we moved into the 1947 built, main portion of the Durtschi house. Our kids would be the 4th generation of Durtschi descendants to live in the house. Walter and Joan moved into the log portion/additon of the house that was built in the late 1980s, and our responsibilities to help care for Walter began.
I still commuted back and forth to Rexburg every day. But, being gone from my family with four young kids and a wife, father-in-law, and mother-in-law for 10 to 11 hours each day did not feel sustainable. I began to look for work in Teton Valley to cut off at least the two hours of drive time each day to and from work. During the summer of 1999 I interviewed at Anderson Lumber Company and was hired on the spot as a fork lift driver and truck driver. (Using that commercial driver’s license I didn’t think I needed.) Even though I was not a manager, or supervisor over anyone, (It was considered an entry level position) I was offered a pay and benefit package that matched what I was earning at Deseret Industries.
I cherish the opportunity and experiences gained while working at Deseret Industries. What I learned there has helped me in other employment and other life areas more than I can explain. And the working with those who had disabilities was challenging, but fantastic. But, by the time I left it felt like it was time to move on. It was a tough decision at the time, but in the retrospect life offers over time, it was the right thing to do.