My dad worked in commercial waterproofing, and though it seems like a far cry from working as a park ranger, a lot of the things he taught me throughout my life have carried over to my current job. Always keep your eyes open, never allow a simple mistake to get under the radar, and make sure that your work is always thoroughly completed. It’s these things that I keep in mind every day when I go to my own work. I suppose that my dad always figured that I would follow in his footsteps, but it was never the type of career that I saw myself doing. I loved being outside too much, not down in a basement making sure there was no leaks. Not that there’s anything wrong with the path he choose, it provided a good life for my family, but it just wasn’t for me.
When I got to college and decided to major in courses that would lead me here rather than to commercial waterproofing, you could tell my dad was upset, but he always supported what I did, and I knew he wouldn’t raise too much of a fuss about it. After I graduated, I landed my first job at my first park. And I use the term park loosely. It seemed like a giant forest without a whole lot else going on. My job was to check the gates around the perimeter every hour and ensure that they were locked, make sure no drunks jumped the gates to go start fires in the woods, and the likes of those tasks.
It was a good job, but I didn’t really feel like I was living up to my full potential. I spent a lot of time running around emptying garbage cans of a metric ton of beer cans, and that was about it. After two years I moved up to a larger park in a neighboring state. I started to learn more about the wildlife, the animals there. I still had to do perimeter checks, but they weren’t nearly as boring at this park. It was at this park that I had my first run in with the wildlife too, and it wasn’t a bear, or cougar, but a deer that scared the lights out of me.
I was walking through one of the wooded paths, and I could hear this rumble. A large crash saw two small female deer bound across the path I was on, and then the big male came behind them. He crashed onto the path about 15 feet ahead of me and stopped dead. Just standing there, looking me in the eyes, from the same height. It scared the pants off of me when I realized exactly how big they were. He just sat there and watched me for what seemed like an hour, but was probably more like ten seconds or so, and then ruffled his fur, which caused me to jump, and he ran off back into the woods. It was a fright for sure.