Never did I imagine a word would be so all encompassing, confusing, diverse, and complicated.
There are 3 distinct types of Rangers in the world. The Interpretive Rangers, who do not carry guns, their the ones who educate the visitors and are experts on the land they watch. The Conservationist Rangers who work with the biological aspects and are unarmed. Then there are the Law Enforcement Rangers who are armed and enforce the rules and regulations.
Can you guess which type of Ranger is the most disliked?
Can you guess which one our Ranger is?
For the average visitor to the park everyone working at the park is a Ranger. From the person that greets you and sells you a pass to the one in the big Stetson Hat to the ones mowing the lawn and cleaning the toilets.
Truth? It very well could be all of those, but it also may not be.
Like I said…confusing.
Truth is lately there’s been a lot of Synchronicity in the conversations i’ve been having lately with people in the park system. The common theme has been:
Truth of the matter is….this career field can be terribly isolating. Most parks are set off away from the cities and towns. Sometimes you are the only one living at that specific park. No neighbors, just passerby’s. People out enjoying their family time and wanting little to nothing to do with anybody else. (I may or may not be the same when we are off on our family times too).
“We actually like being so far removed”
There is a sense of isolation where we are currently. A lot of it has to do with the small town coastalness of the area. But truth be told, I’m working so hard that I don’t feel isolated. The key is to be proactive, to put yourself out there, to be open. I did close off for a while, you can check that part out on the Real Reel, but realized I was just digging my own grave and I quickly climbed out of the hole.
Some locals know enough about the parks that they don’t tend to welcome the employees into the local scene because:
A) They know that most are seasonal workers and will be gone in a few months.
B) Have a pretty negative view of the park system as a whole and have their own personal vendettas against anyone working for the system.
We’ve encountered both. On the flip side of that I have personally met so many wonderful people in the past 2 months that are absolutely beautiful souls and so very welcoming.
“I tend to just hermit into my home when i’m not at work”
A conversation I just had the other day with a young Ranger who doesn’t know exactly where he belongs but is trying to find his place. I admitted that it can be very hard and tiresome to put yourself out there and be vulnerable and susceptible to being hurt. A lot borders on ethics for the Law Enforcement Rangers. If they make friends…will those friends start expecting them to bend the rules for them a bit, or let them off with warnings instead of writing citations? It’s a thin line to skate for many law enforcement agents.
“I find it quite lonely and depressing”
Being in relationships is always a bit tricky too. One person is going to have to compromise to fit around the others job for location. Not everyone is flexible. Is one partner going to be able to find a job they love while the other has scored their dream job? With a family you then have to figure out schools, and activities. There’s so many things to figure out!
I was asked how I’m dealing with it all and what i’m sacrificing. Luckily we’ve had some pretty simple fixes: Ranger is the bread winner, and i’m the baker. He brings the money home, and I put it where it needs to go. We are homeschooling which makes for an extremely flexible schedule.
That still leaves one unanswered question, “But what is it that you like to do? How are you okay with moving around to new places to often”?
Simply: I like to create community. Thankfully I can do that anywhere.
If I’ve learned anything in the past 2 years is that you have to work damn hard for what you want. Be it a new career, a move, a vagabond, a community, friends, whatever it is you want…it will not just drop in your lap. Ok, sometimes it might, but that’s only once in a blood red moon. (The blood red moon occurs twice this year 2014, so your odds are pretty good, just saying).
We made our leap at a good time. We had already chased the dollar, bought the newest toys, drove the newest cars, bought the house, had the kids. We got that out of our systems per-say. But It didn’t make us happy. Do I miss driving a car that doesn’t squeak when you push the gas or that you have to essentially hotwire each time you want to start it, sure I do. Do I miss the big screen TV, surround sound and comfy couch? YES! I’m pretty sure the couch i’m sitting on used to be white but is now a dull shade of dirty boys. But to trade this life for those few things isn’t even an option anymore.
“We have no friends where we are now”
And as far as the isolation goes? It only takes getting to know 1 or 2 of the right people to make you feel so connected to a place and so connected to life that nothing else really matters. But you have to be open and willing to find those people and to seek them out. They aren’t going to just come knock on your door. ESPECIALLY if you live inside of a Park, more times then not the ones who knock on your door are just wondering where to buy tokens for the showers.
Life is essentially as isolating as you make it and your attitude is the greatest factor in all of it.