Here is what Sue Skalicky from Bismark, ND had to say about working on her photo profile of Maddy Barney…
“I am so glad I did it! It was refreshing to get back into interviewing and taking photos. And the writing was like lifting weights after a long break from the gym – that good kind of pain. I have more empathy for the work I’m requiring of my busy students. But, I also have a renewed passion for working hard on deadline and being proud of the results. This weekend is my leaders’ retreat and I’m excited to show them my work.”
This summer, Maddy Barney, 2012 Century grad, wakes up in Bismarck Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays and drives a taxi for 9 hours. After graduation, Barney moved to Thessaloniki, Greece, to attend her first year of college, because she read a book about it when she was 10. She transferred to an American university in Spain for her second year, and will graduate from from there, but will spend one more semester in Greece spring 2015, because she really misses it. “My soul is there,” Barney said.
Barney loves the pace and variety of driving a taxi. “I have such ADD that I can’t do the same thing all the time. This is always changing. There is always this sense of excitement to go get the next passenger and what do they have to say today,” Barney said. She drives the 6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. shift and ends up transporting a lot of people she sees as those “slipping through the cracks, those who no one has talked to in a month.” During high school, Barney worked at Youthworks and sees a lot of similarities between the two jobs. “[Many of the people I drive] are lonely,” Barney said. “I believe the biggest heartache is loneliness. It seeps into every inch of somebody. This is Youthworks grown up. It is people who need a person and I love being that person.”
Barney is prepared for just about everything when she’s on duty at Taxi 9000. With the oil boom in North Dakota, she often drives oil workers. “Some of them are really rude oil guys who get in and say, ‘No one told me you’d be so cute,’ and ‘When can we go out,’” Barney said. “And, I have one regular who has decided that he’s fallen in love with me.” She keeps a log of all her riders and plans to put them in her blog, www.homesweeteverywhere.wordpress.com, at the end of the summer. “You get such tidbits of life. It’s a patchwork, small pieces from everybody, and somehow it becomes your day,” Barney said.
t the end of her shift driving taxi, Barney stops by her mom Sarah Murphy’s home to change and see loved ones before heading to her evening job as a waitress. A week ago, Barney had a break from her busy work routine to give a TED talk in Fargo. “It was the most adult thing I’ve ever done,” Barney said. She received an email from those at TED saying they had read her blog and asking if she would give a TED talk speaking at the theme of living on purpose. She simply talked about her life. “I don’t feel like I’m doing anything that significant because it’s just what’s coming natural to me. To me, it’s just very normal,” Barney said.
Barney takes a few minutes to eat and catch up with her boyfriend, Cristi Clinciu, whom she met at the The American College of Thessaloniki during her first year of college. Clinciu is from Romania. “He’s just my human,” Barney said. “He’s like the resting place of my soul. Almost like an extension of myself.” Clinciu obtained a work visa to come home with Barney for the summer. He is working at the Hampton Inn as a breakfast host and housekeeping adviser. “He likes it,” Barney said. “I mean, anyone would like going from making 60 cents an hour to making $10.60 an hour.”
Barney changes uniforms as she prepares for her evening shift at the Bistro restaurant in Bismarck. “I love it,” Barney said. “I love that it pays for college. I love that sometimes I walk out with $300.” Barney also loves the simpleness of food. “There is something about food bringing people together,” Barney said. “Watching couples have nothing to say to each other or couples not able to get enough of each other. Or business people putting on this facade of importance. When, at the end of it, we are all just people who need to eat.”
When not working, Barney and Clinciu enjoy spending time with family and Barney’s friends from high school. However, Barney finds it somewhat of a struggle to come home. After living overseas, Barney finds American culture sometimes difficult to comprehend. “[As wait staff] our job is really just bullshit,” Barney said. “Like someone just paid me $100 to walk food to them. It was nothing. I love tipping culture in America. But, it doesn’t make sense.” Barney loves every day of her life. Although she experienced some apprehension towards the end of her senior year in high school about stepping out in the direction of her dreams, she doesn’t regret any one of her bold steps. To others facing the decisions of what to do after high school, she said, “Plan the things you are going to do purposefully. Don’t go to UND because everyone is going to go to UND. Go to UND, not because it makes the most sense, but because it is what you feel drawn to. You need to take a long time by yourself to figure out why it makes sense to you. A lot of things we accept, but we don’t know why.”
This summer is about making money to pay for college and reconnecting with family and friends. But, Barney has an eye on her future and is excited to take the next steps. After college, she would like to spend a year in southeast Asia, a year in Ghana, and a year in Chile. She would maybe like to live in Washington DC and work for National Geographic or New York. “I’m going to marry this Romanian,” Barney said. “It’s so funny, because I never even thought love happened.” Then Barney would like to find her ‘Walden Pond.’ “After it’s been awhile, maybe have some babies around 30,” Barney said, “then I want to bring them somewhere where they can see the stars and play in the water and just make our own soap and have our own big garden.” She wants to continue to live on purpose. “I’m tired of living off the planet in a way that is not for the planet. I’m tired of being handed plastic water bottles and throwing away food. I just want to find a way to get out of this cycle.”