Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Is RVer being reasonable or a curmudgeon?

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I recently visited Big Bend National Park and discovered I may be a curmudgeon. There are a lot of fossils there, but I didn't want to be one of them. I began to suspect I was getting old and crotchety when I asked a young ranger with a diamond in her nose about a location I wanted to hike to. She pointed to an obvious point on the map as if I was directionally challenged, then kind of raised her eyebrows.

Without saying a word, she was screaming "idiot" with those raised eyebrows reflecting in her nose jewelry. When I pointed out the fact that I had already been to the point on the map and that it wasn't actually the historical location, she again pointed to the map as if I had missed it the first time. It was then I asked for a second opinion. She disappeared into the back office and came back with the suggestion that I buy a book about the historical location I was inquiring about. I explained that I had already read the book and that is what prompted my question. I was trying, with all the patience I could muster, not to be a curmudgeon, but I think I failed.

I know these rangers get all kinds of stupid questions from the visiting public, but once they become shell shocked the Park Service should give them a little R&R. Maybe with some time off they would actually get to know the area they are expected to be doling out accurate information.

This seems to work for the volunteers managing the visitor center desks. They seem to know everything and actually want to talk to people. They must all be a bunch of curmudgeons like me.
--Burnt in Big Bend

Dear Burnt:
You have to put everything in perspective. Maybe this person was having a bad day. Maybe she just had six people before you ask her why there wasn't a escalator to the top of Emory Peak. Maybe she just came off a three day search and rescue that didn't turn out well. Rangers wear many hats. I am not making excuses for those individuals who truly are rude from over exposure to park visitors. They show no professionalism and are obviously in the wrong career field. If you could read the reports of things that go on that are generated every day in the Park Service system, you would appreciate more the task that rangers have to hold it all together to preserve and protect. I agree with you about the volunteers. They have become a integral part of managing our National Parks. There is nothing wrong with being a curmudgeon. It is a vital part of personal evolution. Just be careful you don't get persnickety, that's when you become a fossil.

--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

14 comments:

Erik's RV Blog said...

Why is it today, we always give the person a pass when they act like this Ranger acted. If they can't do their job, are having a bad day or what have you, that's not an excuse.

I wish I could say to my boss, hey, give me a pass, I'm having a bad day. I bet the people in the unemployment line would get a chuckle from that.

Erik

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Shrink, but that be-jeweled "lady" is being PAID to be especially nice to park visitors. No excuses, no pass. She should've taken a sick day if she wasn't up to performing up to expectations. I was in business for 38 years. I had to perform properly each and every day, with no excuses, no passes. Time for people to grow up!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the previous commenters. There is no excuse for such ranger behavior. I know two New Mexico State Park rangers. They would never act this way. I have been to the Big Bend National Park and only experienced staff who seemed to really enjoy their jobs and treated folks with courtesy. Maybe this lady's nose jewelry was pinching a bit that day.

Bob

Anonymous said...

Sorry Doc, I think you missed the boat with this answer. Anyone who is employed in the "public service" sector is being paid to "be nice" even to a curmudgein. Her proper response "I don't think I have the right answer for your question, let me find someone who may know more than I do to help you" would have moved her out of the situation and in doing so she may have added to her own knowledge base. I am not suggesting that this gives the general public the right to be a grump...however she is going to encounter this through out her career and she needs to learn those all important skills that go along with public interaction.

Anonymous said...

I work as a park ranger six months out of the year. I greet hundreds, if not thousands, of visitors daily working at the entrance station. I have tough days, but I keep on smiling. Occasionally it can be difficult, when a visitor who's "having a bad day" takes it out of me, but I've learned to shrug it off. I thoroughly working with the public. It is a privilege I do not take lightly.

Anonymous said...

Fortunately I've NEVER run into this situation with any park ranger. In fact I'm very pleased with the jobs they perform.

I personally would have tried to once again ask the question perhaps in a different way. If I still was on the receiving end of an attitude, I would have simply asked to speak with a supervisor.

In this manner the ranger gets a bit of slack, but you don't have to just write it off as they had a bad day.

Anonymous said...

There is an very enjoyable book "Hey Ranger" that I picked up in a National Park Visitor Center. Written by a career park ranger, it provided many laughs for the family as we traveled a few summers ago. I am sorry I don't have the author's name.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the other comments, this "ranger" should be reported for her conduct. Like the other government agencies this "ranger" may have been a summer hire, who as was stated may not be the correct person for this type of job. I am sure that as the Doc said, if this ranger was coming off a 3 day S&R mission, they would have had time off, regardless of the amount of visitors present. This was just plan bad behavior.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you were too busy judging her for her nose piercing to find out why she wasn't understanding your request.
No, she shouldn't have been rude, but I'm sure she thought she was helping you based on the knowledge she had at the time. Try and remember back to when your life experience did not include decades of knowledge that you learned from other people that were older than you. You could have tried to work with her in a way that would help her act differently next time she met a curmudgeon but instead you cemented her opinion and made it even worse for the next one that comes along.

dennis said...

i remember when i was younger and sometimes a shit, back then the population didn't put up with it, and if you got fired for mouthing off to someone, or being a jackass, you licked your wounds and learned something, or you got fired more than once, there are a lot of people looking for a job, that would be thankful to replace the snotty park ranger gal, need i say more?
as a society,we are all to blame for these kinds of problems, if we put up with this kind of behavior.
when i get treated like crap by anyone in the public sector like this i go after their job, it's a good life lesson for them to learn...

Anonymous said...

You seem to be awfully fixated on the nose piercing. Perhaps intolerance on your part negatively colored this encounter!?

Anonymous said...

...the individual was not a Ranger but an SCA - an intern who is in training. It is likely that her evaluation will reflect any shortcomings. As I was a witness to this encounter the curmudgeon was indeed very curmudgeonly in this encounter.

Anonymous said...

Just like the visitors that come to Big Bend, the people who work here are somewhat limited by what type of personal vehicle they have. Many of the people here haven't been to a large portion of the park since it requires a 4x4 vehicle. There are also many times when a visitor will know more about these areas than staff because of this reason. As for the way she answered your question, it is inexcusable to be rude. But, she isn't being paid to deal with rude visitors and this RVer wasn't as polite as he makes it seem either. There are two sides to every story. I hope that this didn't ruin your trip to Big Bend though, because it is an amazing place and this small event shouldn't take hold over the other experiences you had here.

Anonymous said...

Previous commentor said that there are two sides to a story. Actually there are three sides. Your side, my side, and the truth. The truth always lies somewhere in between the other two.