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Faces of Warren County - Ruby shines while working in the dark
Ruby from the Shell station.jpg
You can usually find friendly Ruby Cain working the register during third shift at the Shell station near McDonalds. - photo by Luke Cameron

Ruby Cain, third shift gas station clerk at the Shell station near McDonald’s, puts her whole self into whatever job she does. “Every job I’ve ever had I’ve tried to be loyal to it,” she says. With her gregarious personality and her affinity for customers, Ruby is a light in the third-shift McMinnville darkness.

Ruby was born in Yuma, Ariz., and grew up all over the place as a kid. She and her family, at one time or another, set up camp in Anchorage, Ark.; Livingston, Tenn.; Orange County, Calif.; Carson County, Calif.; Tacoma, Wash.; Preston, Idaho; and Buckeye, Ariz.

She came to McMinnville in seventh grade in 1986 to be closer to her mother’s mother, who loved in the area. Ruby and her twin sister Judy attended junior high school and then Warren County Senior High. 

In high school, Ruby was active with JROTC and the drill team, where she earned the respect of her peers. She rose to the rank of commanding sergeant major.

Following her graduation with the class of 1992, Ruby worked as a certified nursing assistant (CNA). She eventually married Joel Cain. 

The way Ruby tells it, at the time she and Joel met he had blonde hair, blue eyes, and six-pack abs. She was pleasantly surprised by his nice, easygoing demeanor, too, because prior to meeting him it had been her experience that “blonde-headed were butts.” The two married on June 26, 1998, and have been married since.

“I liked it when you walked into a room and a patient was excited to see you,” Ruby says of the joy she derived from working as a CNA. After years of wear and tear on her body, though, she left her CNA career behind. She worked stints as a cleaner and janitor, and she also ran the beer run section at Delores Market for a time. Furthermore, she earned an administrative assistant degree from Vo-Tech and a business science degree from Motlow.

She got on at the Shell station several years ago and found that it suited her. She worked day shifts for a while until one day Laura, her manager, asked her to work a couple nights in order to give the night-shift cashier some relief. Those couple nights turned into a couple years, and Ruby is still keeping things running on third shift.

“I’m a people person,” says Ruby. It is the interaction with her customers that makes her nights enjoyable. She often tells her regular customers, “If you want to be as sexy as me, you’ve got to drink Pepsis and smoke Winstons.”

Third-shift cashiering is not without its oddities. Ruby had the misfortune once of having to clean up the premises after a customer relieved themselves on the floor.

She also occasionally comes across old faces from the past. One was a bully from high school who had treated her unkindly then. When he met her in the present day, his feelings toward her had changed and he attempted some flirtation, which Ruby promptly shut down. “You didn’t have time for me in high school, you don’t have time for me now,” she told him.

Largely, though, Ruby’s job is fulfilling and fun. “I always try to make everybody feel comfortable,” Ruby says. She enjoys being part of a team that includes Jack, Laura, Penny, Donna, Kristi, Mark, and Betty. Her friendliness makes Ruby an integral part of the Shell station team. "I’m a giver,” Ruby says. “You may not like what I’m giving you, but I’m a giver.”