My Life, My Words: Kristen Stranger-Thorsen — ‘Burning the midnight oil’

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“When I was little, kids couldn’t sit next to me because I was a ‘Stranger.’ My whole name didn’t fit on the roll, so any time we had a substitute (teacher) that was lots of fun, because it was like, ‘STRANGER-THOR, KRI.’ That’s what showed up. (Stranger-Thorsen) was my dad’s name, and his father’s name. I’m sure it was combined somewhere down the line. It’s Norwegian.

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Kristen Stranger-Thorsen, an overnight cashier at Wal-Mart, stands behind the customer service desk Saturday. Stranger-Thorsen volunteered for the overnight shift when the Craig Wal-Mart went to a 24-hour schedule.

“I’m a cashier. In August it was (for) a year. I just moved back (to Craig) before I started working here. I lived in Texas for a little bit, and I lived here for a little bit before that. I’ve been here off and on for about five years.

“People think (the night shift) is easy because we don’t have a lot of customers, but we aren’t allowed to just stand around. We do a little bit of everything. We stock, we clean, we help customers. Pretty much anything you can think of, we’ve probably done it. It’s an adventure.

“It’s really hard. A lot of times we’ll get a day-on, day-off schedule, and so I don’t really get anything done on my day off because I’m sleeping. If I have a couple of days off in a row then I’m really in trouble because I want to sleep nights. It kind of messes you up. It takes some getting used to. I e-mail my schedule to everybody so they know when it’s safe to call and when it’s safe to come over. We just started doing 24 hours maybe six months ago. I started doing overnight when we started doing 24 hours. I like nights better and it’s $2 more an hour.

“A vampire would be like the perfect guy for me because we have the same schedule.

“Right after we started, there was a guy who came in and bought a knife. And then he left and came back with his knife and he was muttering to himself. That was a little creepy. He ended up leaving, thank goodness, but we were all a little scared about that one.

“I play a lot of video games. I’m an Xbox person. I also like to read. I like to hang out with my friends, if they’re awake. And I make graphics and work on websites. It’s just a hobby. Hopefully I’ll eventually make it to school for that.

“My grandparents live here. They’re pretty well known, actually. The Kidders — ‘Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus’ — those are my grandparents. For the most part, it’s really cool. I never got a pony, and I’m pretty disappointed about that. Plus, he knows all the time when I’ve been bad. He doesn’t even have to check up on me — he knows. It has its disadvantages. If one of the elves gets sick, then I get called in. I’m obligated.

“I just got new glasses. I’d been wearing my prescription sunglasses … at night. And everybody has sung that ‘I Wear My Sunglasses at Night’ song to me.

—Interview and photo by Ben McCanna

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