Defensive Walls Go Up

So far my adventures in Yellowstone as a Ranger have my defenses up. If you’re ready to fight, I’m good to go.
11377389_838193642916591_8101662177027584771_nI don’t like feeling this way, and I worry that it is going to give me negative encounters with people. I tend to have a “smart-mouth”; for those individuals who don’t listen to the signs or myself.
Granted 98% for people listen to me, once they realize that, that voice is in fact a ranger.
For example, there is a section of road where everyone parks and walks up over the grass to view a thermal feature. It’s against the law to walk around a thermal area, and there are SIGNS that say don’t walk here. They are small, close to the ground, and about every six feet. So part of me understands that since the signs are small, its easy not see them as you walk by. (Plus people like to steal them apparently.) So that part has me ask you politely, yet loudly, to return to the grass and continue up the road to the boardwalk to view that feature.
Then there is a part of me (the smart-mouth) who then tells you to “Watch out for those little signs, don’t trip on them.”. 

That right there is not the right thing to do.

Visitors are on vacation; you are here to enjoy the park’s wonders, I just want you to do it safely. I know that sometimes, we get so excited we actually don’t think thoroughly about our safety. Example: I drive south to assist our Police Rangers with a Bear Jam, once I arrive, the bear leaves (typical).
I speak with my coworker and he says, “Did you see those people?!”
No, what happened?
When I arrived they were all standing on the edge of the woods trying to see through the thick under-story right where the bear went into the woods.”
I asked them, Now what’s the plan if the bear comes back out of the woods?
They didn’t have one.

This is where customer service comes in, just like any job. This is the first time you are speaking to that visitor, and you need to treat them that way. Instead of treating them like this is the 25th time in a row you have to remind them to back up from that bison, its just the first time for them. 

I need to remember to take a breath before each situation. 

Another situation that has me “putting up my game face” is that 2% of visitors who don’t listen. It more than likely having to do nothing with me but I take it personally. I feel as though it has to deal with me as a young female. Again though, I already have my defensive up. I know I am over reacting and just taking things a way that they shouldn’t, but I can’t help it. 

I need to remember to breath. 

7 Replies to “Defensive Walls Go Up”

  1. Thank you for all you do! We were just at Bryce and I was so frustrated by so many of the tourists. People climbing over the railing to get a better picture or going out on a crazy dangerous ledge for who knows what reason. I can only imagine how I would feel seeing that day after day. We love our parks and are thankful wonderful people like you are willing to protect them.

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  2. Oh girl, I feel you! Just try to remember to kill them with kindness – you really do tend to be more affective that way anyway. That being said, you shouldn’t let people walk all over you! Sometimes you do have to be firm.

    Also, I think your question to the bear-watchers (“what’s the plan if the bear comes back out of the woods?” is appropriate when used the right way. Smile when you say it and it shows you have a sense of humor while bringing awareness to the slight. If you just bark rules people won’t understand why they are there and will be more inclined to continue to ignore them. But I think that line delivers the common sense without being too harsh.

    At the end of the day, it’s easier on YOU to be nice, even when you feel you’re at your wits end. I am 100% positive that you are doing GREAT and are being much harder on yourself than you deserve. Keep up the good work Ranger! Miss you!

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  3. I worked in natural resources protection for over 37 years. I shared your ‘youthful zeal’ in the early years. Time will temper that a bit as you see just about every possible situation presented to you, both good and bad! Be patient, remember that we (now, you) work for the public, people are basically good, and as you say, “Breathe!” In most cases, folks are trying to snatch just a bit of the beauty and marvelous-ness of what you get to work in every day! You are going to be OK. May God bless you, young lady.

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  4. Many people are idiots, and I feel your frustration. Even as a visitor I get annoyed by violations I see all the time. Food out at campsites, getting too close to cliff edges, getting too close to wildlife. I sometimes say something, although they’re usually too dense to get my drift. The bison gorings at Yellowstone are particularly alarming this year. Whenever you see someone getting too close you just want to yell “FIVE PEOPLE HAVE BEEN GORED BY BISON HERE THIS YEAR…IS YOUR SELFIE IMPORTANT ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU NUMBER SIX?!”

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  5. Kaitie, you are my hero, in your work to protect the visitor from the park. Or at least that is how I approached when I was a NPS Ranger 38 years ago and then again, this summer in YELL. During my break, I continued in a State LE career. I learned earlier that we are often judged by our age, and to a point, gender. I was often told I needed to gain some weight and get some grey hair, for people to listen to my directions more. Sadly both of those happened after I retired! But, I worked on my delivery. Not to let my emotions enter into my tone. Especially when you see someone doing something stupid and or life threatening. Stay calm, firm and courteous, no matter the situation and how aggressive the person is you are addressing. It is a learned response and I suspect you will master it quickly. Just don’t let someone get you to escalate to their level. Yes, people are on vacation. But people do die on vacations, too.

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