February 23, 2011

Burke Freight Elevator Tells All in Exclusive Interview

I first met our freight elevator, who I'll call Frank, when I started my job as the Burke receptionist back in August. He helped me get to my first interview and ever since we've been very close. Since he's only a few feet from my desk, Frank and I work together daily, which is why it was such a treat to spend a bit of time with him to check in and find out what this elevator's walls had to say.

Sam the Receptionist: Thank you, Frank, for sitting down with us today to discuss what it's like to work at the Burke.
Frank the Freight Elevator: You're welcome, Sam. It's a pleasure to be here. Of course, I appreciate you coming to me as it's difficult for me to get away from my post at times.

That's me and the freight elevator, conducting our interview.
S: No problem. I can imagine that, as a freight elevator, it's easiest for me to come to you. Of course, we work closely during the day and you help me quite a bit.
F: No worries, it's my pleasure. I am more than happy to help keep the museum working.

S: Well, let's get to it. How long have you been here at the Burke? 
F: I came to the Burke in 1962 and was lucky enough to start in this position. I didn't have to work my way up, so to speak. I work my way up every day! Ha! That one will never get old.

S: Haha, thank you for that. Is there a remarkable experience that you've had since you've been at the Burke?
F: There are so many amazing things that happen here. Of course, I enjoy the annual whale skull move for Meet the Mammals. It's nice to get to see such an incredible specimen up close like that. It's also really amazing how much work goes into getting them from the mezzanine to the second floor. Two years ago, someone caught me on video while our mammalogy team was moving the whale skulls...check it out: 

S: What about the day to day? What does a regular work day look like for you?
F: Well, the back side of the museum usually opens around 7:30 am or so and people start going to the different floors around 8 am. First the collections managers, curators, and staff show up and a few volunteers. I really love everyone who works here, but the volunteers are who make my day. Some of these people are here so long, I forget that they don't get paid! Like this guy Don, he's a volunteer in Geology and I swear sometimes he's here more than I am!

S: Aside from the people, what kinds of things do you see on a regular work day? What do you carry other than people?
F: WELL! That's very exciting. People from around the area here and a few different organizations bring us dead stuff. Yes. Dead stuff. My absolute favorite! People will bring in gorgeous birds that have flown into windows or were knocked out of a tree in the storm. Some of the most stunning specimens are brought in by the public. They find these unfortunate creatures outside and they wrap them up in plastic, stick them in their freezer and call the Burke to find out what to do next. Also, the Woodland Park Zoo and the Burke have a great relationship. A lot of the animals that pass away at the Zoo come to the Burke to be cleaned up and cared for and then become educational tools for teaching people about the amazing diversity of life on Earth!

S: It sounds like you have quite the job here at the museum.
F: Yes, it really is. I get to take people to where they need to go with the cool stuff that they work with here. There are so many fascinating things here at the Burke that even the freight elevator can get in on the action!

S: Well, thank you for your time, Frank. Hopefully we'll get a chance to meet with you again at some point to hear about your latest exploits!
F: Thank you, Sam. It's been a pleasure.

Posted by: Samantha Porter, Operations