Wednesday, June 25, 2014
That was the phrase going through my head on a weekend camping trip to a state park. Going through my head as some park ranger tried very hard to be stern and tough, while coming off as a complete jack-wagon who always wanted to grow up to be a cop and never could. So, he settled for park ranger bad-boy instead.
Don't get me wrong, respect to park rangers, DNR, police and security guards everywhere. I am not trying to fulfill any stereotypes. But this guy took the cake.
I was having a great time camping with my family, except my daughter woke up at 0200 hrs that morning and decided she doesn't like camping anymore, screaming, yelling, flopping. So I did what any good dad would do; I caved in, and drove her to a friends house where we spent the remainder of the night.
Within minutes of returning to camp the next day, Ranger Ricky (not real name), a non-law enforcement, cell phone packing bad boy shows up at our camp. "I noticed you don't have a park sticker on your windshield!" He growls. No smile, no hello, no welcome to camp, nothing.
This tool is probably in his mid-40's, he's taken up a semi-defensive stance and has a hand on his hip/cell phone. (very reminiscent of Paul Blart, mall cop)
It took everything I had to summon up what some people call an inner-monolog...apparently the military never issued me one, and I've had to make an attempt with a artificial one I've developed. I responded, "Really? Could have sworn I've had one there since September 2013 and it's good for a year. Hmm, ltet's look!" To which he responds, "No...you don't." We walked around to the front of the vehicle while Park Ranger Ricky gives me the stink-eye and the "I'm-going-to-call-the-real-cops-on-you-for-not-having-a-sticker and I-don't-have-any-real-authority-but-I-really-really-want-some-power" look.
We get to the front of the vehicle and I point with an amazed look on my face and say, "Oh my gosh! Look at that! A sticker!"
Did I need to be slightly sarcastic? No. Did I anyway? Yes. Why? The age old childhood argument, "He started it."
No apology, no "my mistake sir" from him. Nothing. Just hands on hips, a glaring look on his face as he scans the camp, looking for some other infraction. He then points at a dog (which, ironically, was not actually my dog, but a different camp site's dog. I didn't feel like pointing it out yet, too much fun watching this wanker act like a complete idiot."
Still pointing he says, "I see your dog is tied to a tree. Just so you know, I've seen dogs get away from trees. Just make sure the dog stays secure."
With that, off stomps Park Ranger Ricky. My wife saw me turn around and asked why I was smiling. "Oh, I was wondering if that guy wasn't held enough as a child, and if he would still be able to breath with a cell phone shoved down his throat? I am also happy that for whatever reason, that guy is NOT a real cop."
Could I have handed that differently? Maybe. I could have been a bit more loving or understanding, and I usually am. Maybe HE had a rough night too. Maybe he's had a death in the family. I don't know, but in the moment, I guess I was just human, and didn't do a good job of taking the high road.
But, these are the happy thoughts that make me smile day to day. The rest of camping was pretty good by the way, but I think I'll wait until the kids are a little older before we try again.