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Random Rochesterite: Rob Solem

One resident, numerous anecdotes

Random Rochesterite - Rob Solem
Rob Solem on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022, in Rochester.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
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Name: Rob Solem
Age: 50
Occupation: Patient transport at Mayo Clinic and bellhop at Hilton Hotel
Where we found him: Methodist Hospital

Your job at Mayo Clinic (transporting patients between appointments) has to be pretty fascinating.

I meet people from literally all over the world. People from every type of dynamic and all degrees of illness and healing. It’s interesting to see it on the hotel side as a bellhop, too. I’ve met royalty. I’ve met celebrities.

How many hours a week do you work?

60. Sometimes more, but it’s usually right around 60 between the two jobs.

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How many steps do you get in a day as a transporter?

That is the No. 1 question that almost every single person asks. I tell them, “It’s not steps, it’s miles.” It’s between eight and 14 miles a day. You take people from one end of campus to the other, from Charlton North to Baldwin, to Mayo, Hilton.

Are you originally from Rochester?

No, I’m originally from Chicago. My mom and I moved to Thief River Falls, Minnesota when I was about 5 and a half.

Do you remember Chicago?

I remember being an intercity kid who couldn’t play outside very often. We were in downtown Chicago, and I remember a lot of excitement and craziness for a kid to watch out the window. Lots of sirens and ambulances and police and even some gang violence. I remember my grandma taking me to Osco Drug and sitting there while she got her hair done every week. And my grandpa taking me to Evanston where he’d race model cars.

Why did you move to Minnesota?

My mom left my bio dad. It was kind of an abusive relationship. My mom got a divorce and wanted to get into a better environment for me. My grandma was from Holt, Minnesota, so we had family up there. One of my cousins had a cheese shop in Thief River Falls, and my mom could work there. A couple of my mom’s friends there were friends with a guy named Pete, who my mom had gotten to know on summer trips. So when my mom got back up here, these friends thought it would be neat if they all hung out. Within a year and a half, my mom married Pete and we were living on the farm where I lived for the rest of my youth. It was wonderful. Pete was kind of like a savior to my mom and me for sure—and the best dad anybody could ever ask for.

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Was there some culture shock going from Chicago to rural Minnesota?

It was kind of exciting. All of a sudden I could play outside freely and hang out with neighbor kids. And when we got out to the country, there were horses and three wheelers and snowmobiles and gravel pits.

Random Rochesterite - Rob Solem
Rob Solem on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022, in Rochester.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

What drew you to Rochester?

It’s a good place to build a career. I just moved here a year or so ago. Most of my adult life has been in the Twin Cities and Fargo. I graduated from the University of North Dakota in 2018. At that time, my daughter, Maddie, was in college. So I decided it was a good time for me to spend a season in the Rockies and do some snowboarding. I moved to Montana and it was a great time. Super fun. But it was also COVID and I didn’t get a chance to meet long-lasting people. I missed my family. I missed my friends. I had done my sabbatical on the slopes and it was time to come back and get serious about my career path.

What’s your degree in?

I have a bachelor of science in rehabilitation and human services. Now that I have my first year at Mayo under my belt, there are a lot of exciting opportunities. But I really like my job.

Thoughts on Rochester?

I think it’s a wonderful community. It’s got so much to offer. It’s a safe community, but vibrant and growing. And I’m super impressed by the character and quality of people I’ve met and how friendly everybody is. We’re not too far away from the Cities, and there’s great healthcare in our backyard.

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How long have been snowboarding?

My first snowboard was a Burton Woody 135 in 1987. It had like water ski bindings and you just wore your Sorels with it. A classic first snowboard. I started by taking it out to the hills behind my house.

Four things you love?

My friends. My family. My music. The Rocky Mountains.

You’re a musician?

I like to sing. I always thought I could sing when I was growing up, but I never really dared to and didn’t do awesome in choir. But then a friend from high school and I became karaoke hosts at Breezy Point when we were young and that helped me cut my teeth. And through singing at church, and having a couple of garage bands in my late 20s and early 30s, I kept it going. Now, I’m a big karaoke hack. I sing in town at Charlies Eatery and Pub.

Tell me about your daughter?

Maddie is 24 and she lives in Minnetonka with her boyfriend, Matt. I’m super proud of her. I beat her in college by two years, but she graduated from UND, too. She is the joy and blessing of my life.

Best advice?

Always keep the faith. Remember that God loves you and he has a plan for your life. Faith should’ve been my No. 1 answer for “four things you love.” Faith, family and friends.

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