Sunday, July 09, 2006

Why park rangers are assholes

You don’t have to work for a long time as a park ranger before you are called as asshole. It seems these days that I am having to deal with more and more people who think I am an asshole. This got me to wonder…am I really an asshole?

After looking through some blogs, I noticed that a lot of people have the opinion that park rangers are assholes. Here is a common posting:

beenah: w00t college!

seriously. twenty fucking minutes for two parking tickets all so some asshole ranger could have a power trip by trying to scare a group of college kids. lauren was seriously freaking out cuz this guy actually made it seem like he was going to take us in... what an asshole.

Now obviously not everyone thinks that park rangers are assholes, but there are enough that it made me wonder why this was such a popular opinion.

Ranger Gord Explains Why Park Rangers are Assholes

1. Just as many assholes as any other profession

Current research indicates that 10% of the U.S. population is made up of assholes. That makes over 29 million assholes! There are approximately 12,000 park rangers currently employed in the US, of those 874 are assholes, which is slightly less than the rest of the population. Future trends see the asshole population on the rise, so expect a similar rise within the ranks of park rangers.

2. Police Bravado

This is always cited by the public as the reason that park rangers are assholes, but this is rarely the case. When you strap on a gun and pin on a badge there is an undeniable feeling of power. Most law enforcement agencies are able to screen out most of these loose cannons during the hiring process, but a few always slip through. All law enforcement agencies have to deal with this issue and most of these bad cops eventually get caught and fired.

3. The Mirror Effect

This is the most common cause of a park ranger appearing to be an asshole. When dealing with the public, park rangers often reflect the attitude of the person they are dealing with. If a person is nice and friendly, then the park ranger is nice and friendly. If the person is an asshole, then the park ranger is an asshole. The mirror effect is a result of the park ranger’s need to win. As a law enforcement officer, a park ranger is charged with making sure people abide by the law. Those that purposefully do not abide by the law often challenge authority (these people are assholes). When a park ranger has someone who is challenging his authority he must assert himself as the authority in control. This is often interpreted as being a bigger asshole than the asshole you are dealing with.

Here is a perfect example of the mirror effect (go check out the photos also):

The Boy Who Destroyed The World: Park Ranger/Asshole
First of all, you should know that "alcoholic beverages" were prohibited because we were camping at a state park. But, needless to say, we found a way around that little dilemma by drinking out of plastic cups rather than bottles and cans. So, we get up there on a Friday night, get our tents up, and start drinking. About an hour and a half after we got everything set up Mr. Dickhead Park Ranger man pulls up and tells us that we are only allowed to have two tents at one campsite (We had four set up). Whatever, we're fine with that, not a big deal. We take the two smaller tents down and start drinking heavily. Things are going well, we were chilling with out neighbors at our campsite who, by the way, were very cool people. Then, about 11:30 Captain "I got a badge and mase so I'm gonna be a prick" comes running up on our campsite and starts yelling at us. What he said is in red and what we replied with is in blue.

"Why are there one, two, three, four, five, six, seven people here? When I came by the first time you said you only had five people."
"They are from the campsite right over there, they are just hanging out."
"Well they need to be over there then. What's in all the red cups?"
"Well, when I was here earlier I told you you had to turn the music down at 11:15!" He then proceeded to rip my boombox all to shit and carry it away.

Here is yet another example of the mirror effect:

the_sound_of: its a beautiful day....

lets see, how was the weekend...
went camping at Bass Lake Provincial Park, went there last year with no problems. This year there were 13 of us, spread out on 3 different sites. Within 2 hours of getting there, one lovely boy named Duncan lit a firecracker, no light effect, strictly a bang that sounded like a gunshot. Park ranger comes over, we deny deny deny. Things are ok.

Around midnight we took a trip to the beach with mayb 10 cans of beer. Sneaky little park ranger who we willcall Occifer Brad shows up. Threatens to fine us unless we pour all our beer out and return to our we comply and literally are all in bed within in a hour.

Next morning, the drinking and doobs start early. We head to the beach for about 3 hours before racing back in a rain storm. Spend 45 minutes rain proofing our sites and chill till about 5 or so. At that point most ppl retreated to their tents to 'siesta' or hotbox...whatever you prefer. "holy fucking hot box"

Kyle and I head to town to pick up smokes for everyone to get us through our final but most excitign night there.............

not really..

we get back, are starting dinner when occifer brad and his fucking sidekick which we will call Dewy came to EVICT US~~~~~~ that is right...we were evicted from a provincial park. He claims there were complaints about us from the night before...
so the fucker waits until 6pm the next day after we are all smashed and ready to start the night to tell us this news..because why?! everyone else was too busy!

he told us we had 30 minutes to pack our shit...that quicly turned into 2 hours of slooooooowwww moving & heckling at these two retards. They got every line in the book from us...i will give you a sample of some of my favorites:

"so what do you make,6...7 bucks an hour?"
"you know i can arrest you for drinking after eviction"....."NO YOU CAN'T"
"dewy, do you have your G2 yet?"
"occifer brad, why don't you tell dewy to remove the magna light from your ass"

So remember, if you think a park ranger is an asshole, the truth is he is probably nice and you are the asshole.


Justin said...

Problem is, we were nice to the Park Ranger up until the point where he started getting fiesty and breaking my personal belongings. Granted, we were breaking a rule or two, but that doesn't make US assholes, it makes us dumb, young kids who had a good time ruined by some State Employed guy on a power trip. Then we became assholes in retaliation to his general attitude towards us. By they way, I would appreciate it if you removed the picture from your post. You can feel free to 'feature' my post, but I would like it if you could remove my picture from your post. Thanks.

Ranger Gord said...

My mistake. I am sure you were perfectly considerate campers inspite of the fact that you had been "drinking heavily" for several hours and were only "breaking a rule or two."

Just for the fun of it let's check your counting ability and see how many rules you were breaking:
1. More than two tents per campsite
2. More than six people per campsite
3. Music after 11:00 p.m.
4. Alcohol use in a prohibited area
5. Minor in possesion of alcohol

Two, three, five...counting is tough for "dumb, young kids" so it's probably not fair to expect that you would get that correct.

As far as the photo is concerned, I am confused by your request to remove it. Why would you invite me and the rest of the world to view your photos of how you "roll" and then get upset when I share it with my friends? If you don't want people to see your illegal behavior, then maybe you shouldn't post it on a website that invites anyone who wants to post it on their blog.

Justin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Justin said...

Make sarcastic jabs all you want. I don't care. All I asked is that you take my pictures off your site. I asked that because I don't like the fact that one of my pictures is on a site that I don't manage. Plus, it is on your site without my permission. I don't care if you try to make me look dumb, or make me look like the asshole, or try to make me look like im bad in math (it was just a figure of speech and I wasn't being particular on the facts). I just simply asked, politely I might add, if you would remove my picture from your site. If it's really that hard for you to do, then fuck it. I don't care. You can just start the trend of "online park rangers" are all assholes.

Ranger Gord said...


Thank you for your polite request to remove your photo from my blog. It was definitely much more polite than the comment you had posted several minutes earlier. I guess you had second thoughts about it and decided to delete it. There was once a time when I too was young and arrogant, but I eventually came around.

I will fulfill your request to remove the photo, but let me take a minute to pass on a few words of advice. Your self-aggrandizing blog in which you feature your drunken escapades and bigoted opinions may impress your friends, but you may suffer some serious consequences in the long term. Blogs are available for anyone to read and link to, whether you want them to or not. You never know when a future employer is going to Google your name and find your blog and your photos and decide not to hire you leaving you stuck at your old job.

Best of luck in your future endeavors.

BTW – the photo was just a link, so all you really had to do was delete it from your photo album and it would have disappeared from my blog.

Murdock said...

Ranger Gord,

Thanks for the great article. I enjoy a beer or two from time to time but have never understood why folks seem to think that our parks are places to party and do drugs. While I am sure there are some bad apples out there, pretty much all the Rangers I have met have been pretty easy to get along with once the realize that you are fishing legal and respect the outdoors. I have even found the Rangers to be great sources of inside information about the parks and found some gems off the beaten path just from knowing them.

Just my two cents - keep up the good work!

Joe Carter said...

I've never had any problems with park rangers -- I get along with them fine.

Mike in Arkansas said...

We just got back from camping in a state park and didn't see a single ranger, let alone an "asshole" ranger. Of course, we didn't see any problems that needed a ranger.

There was that one campsite, though, where there was a pretty large group of Texans, and they did get loud enough with their music to be noticed. I don't know if they were drinking. They certainly didn't get overly roudy.

How do I know they were Texans? It was on the license plates of their RVs and trucks

They were all older than us by a few years -- I think most of them were on social security. And their music -- it was a "sing along." I guess some people still do that.

Probably a lull time for rangers -- autumn, weekdays as opposed to weekends.

I'll probably always be on the side of a good park ranger. After all, it was what I once wanted to be when I grew up. (I'm on the verge of retiring and will be spending a lot of time in the future in the woods.)

Alan said...

I've had only one encounter with a park ranger whom I thought was being an asshole. And that was 20 years ago. I'd just returned stateside after a year in South Korea (Air Force duty) and was at Bandelier National Monument when my wife and I stepped (gingerly) across the wilderness boundary. Well, a horse-mounted rangerette just happened by and gave us a chewing out -- for being 10 feet inside designated wilderness without a permit in hand.
Hey, lighten up, rangerette.
OK, we deserved a talking to, but 10 feet?
Well, your story was pretty damn funny.

Anonymous said...

You should add "law enforcement" before "park ranger" to differentiate between LE, interps, and resource management.

I think most LE rangers are perceived to be assholes because they are cops. People don't like cops, unless they need help, because cops write tickets. (If I could write tickets, it would be for things like picking flowers or crossing the fences at Sequoia.)

Some LE rangers I lived with bragged about busting pot smoking hippies in the campground who weren't really bothering anyone (now they have a felony on their record). Other LE rangers I lived with cheated at cards or didn't eat vegetables. One drove a tenth of a mile to work everyday. Another refused to do his dishes. Another still puked on the bathroom wall and didn't clean it up all summer. I think this is why LE rangers are assholes.

Anonymous said...

I actually work at a provincial park. I can assure you that I get my share of disrespect and harassment from certain campers even though I am not an enforcement officer. Although the majority of campers are very kind and a pleasure to be around, I also know how frustrating it can be when campers show absolutely no concern for the rules, or for the other campers around them.

I have gotten to know both of our wardens (or rangers) very well, and they are very friendly, well-educated, and respectful people (although some indiviuals may assume otherwise). They have admitted on numerous occasions that as long as the camper they are dealing with is respectful and easy to get along with, then they take it easy and offer friendly reminders. However, when a park ranger is met with ignorance and disrespect, they know that a friendly reminder will not be effective in removing whatever problem may exist. In this case, they are normally not in the mood to be giving anyone any breaks, especially if the campers are intentionally causing a problem.

One must also consider the fact that the park rangers are doing the enforcement work for the park superintendent. At our park this year, the park wardens have been told to charge and evict rather than issue warnings. Neither of them agree with the decision as they feel it is unfair to campers, who should at least be allowed a chance to correct behaviour that they may not have known was unacceptable. So there is proof that not all park rangers are assholes. And they do INDEED have the right to arrest... there were two arrests made by rangers this past weekend for public intoxication with an eviction following that. The cops came to retrieve the individuals, and ended up charging the one person criminally because he was causing such a problem. Rangers do not throw empty threats, they inform campers of the required disciplinary measures that must be taken. So as much as some people would like to think that the rangers are on a power trip, they are simply responsible people that are enforcing the regulations that the PARKS AND LEGAL SYSTEMS HAVE CREATED!
Some also may be unaware of the fact that the wardens are required to document everything that occurs during their shift in a notebook... this information must match up with occurence reports that are written about every incident that takes place in the park... which also must match up with a daily shift report. Following one arrest, the park ranger spent from 7 pm to 3:30am (3 and a half hours of which were overtime)doing paper work and was unable to patrol the park again that night. He then did an additional 2-3 hours of remaining paper work off-shift. Our wardens do not get paid for the countless hours of overtime they work in order to enforce and protect at the park. I'm sure if most people were really aware of how much work being a ranger is, they would have more respect and wouldn't be so quick to assume that rangers are power-tripping jerks. So people really need to keep in mind that the officers are hard working individuals and they do not take their jobs lightly, as they basically must record their every move. All reasoning with regards to charges, evictions, arrests, use of force, etc... MUST be in line as it is reviewed by their supervisors and reflects back onto them as employees.
Most campers are respectful and understand that park rangers are only there to make the camping experience a positive one. The parks are meant for camping, not for teens looking to party. If you HAVE to have loud music, large amounts of alcohol/drugs, and you intend to stay up till all hours of the morning laughing/talking/swearing loudly in order to have a good time, then do yourself a favour... have a house party. You'll save yourself the money both in camping fees, and charges that will be laid when you break basically all of the major rules of the park. You can also save yourself from a confrontation with one of those fiesty park rangers... and deal directly with the cops, they can take care of you better than a ranger can... and you can take that to the bank!
That's my experience... I hope someone can benefit from it!

Robert said...

i am just laughing my ass off reading this. It's hilarous and a bit sad that these idiots have no clue about how stupid their actions were. Od gord, You missed #6 Smoking weed.....Under age drinking heavily AND smoking weed. Ah, where is a city cop when you need one, eh? .carry on!

Anonymous said...

I've never had a problem with park rangers in ANY park I've camped at or visited...could it be that my friends and family are well behaved or just want a little peace and serenity in the outdoors? I have left a 17 years field of study and employment in my 50's to attempt to qualify to be a local park ranger. Ranger Gord's description of the "mirror effect" is right on, and I experienced that many times as a CA State Humane Officer. Treat people with respect, identify what you want from them, give them an opportunity to correct their behavior and if they do so, thank them. If not, depending on the infraction or crime, they get cited, evicted or arrested. Education and correction of behavior will result in a good time had by all.

Anonymous said...

I recently went camping with 5 of my friends (6 is max on site) in a provincial park durring an alcohol ban (Canadian may long weekend) and was evicted within 3 hours of showing up. We had just arrived and set up all our tents and positioned them with our cars in a way that they offered us maximum privacy. We began our weekend and started drinking (despite the ban) Our friend, being the idiot he is, decided to walk around the park with a mixed drink in his hands (after we told him not to) and was stopped and ticketed by a park ranger. The friend then proceded to give the ranger our site number (as apposed to simply telling him he was a visitor SNITCH) and within a matter of a couple of minutes 4 ranger cars were at our site. When they arrived we were not on the site but they shouted down the road to us and told us to come there....

Ranger 1: Is this your site?
Me: Yes it is, is there a problem? (we weren't making any noise, it was still day time, and none of us had drinks on us, and all permits were paided for and clearly displayed)
Ranger: Yes there is a problem... your friend here was found drinking and now you all have 30 minutes to pack your stuff and get out of here.

My only response was shaking my head with disapointment...(we all remained completely silent) and we all began to pack our stuff up. I then asked the question politely
Me: Do we have to be penalized for his actions? (The drink could have came from anyones site right?)

Now this is where things went really bad.... of the 6 park rangers sitting by their cars watching us from the road... one decided to come and acually watch us a little more closely. And he discovered a bong sitting inside of a tent.
Ranger: Where is the pot to go with this?
Friend 1: I don't know, I'll look around for it!
The friend then proceeded into the tent and started "looking around". After a minute or so the ranger came over to the tent and at the same time, with his back to the ranger, the friend bent down and picked up a bag with a gram of cocaine in it off the ground
Ranger: What is in your hand? What did you just pick up? (thinking it was the weed for the bong)
Friend 1: Nothing!
The ranger then came over and ripped open my friends hand, searched him completly, and arrested him. They then radioed for the real police to come and get him. We packed up all our stuff and didn't say anything. When the police got there they told us we had to follow them into town (30 minute drive) so that they could book our friend for possesion of cocaine and release him to us. We were all too drunk to drive (though none of the cops or rangers knew this), so we had no choice but to drive in order to avoid more trouble/tickets. The only people ticketed were the one found with the mixed drink on the road and the person who was seen picking up the cocaine off the ground. What I don't understand is how come they didn't search us at all and why did they let us drive away drunk (and high for that matter)? (they must have suspected we were drinking since our friend was cought?)
If they would have searched us they would have found:
Around 50 grams of pot
14 grams of mushrooms
(that gram of coke)
3 cases of beer
3 60s of rum
1 40 of vodka
2 26ers
Papers, lighters, another bong, and a scale.

If you ask me we got away pretty easy.... I understand we were breaking a very large amount of rules and laws... but these are my questions...

1. Did the Park Rangers have the right to evict our whole campsite just because they found one of the campers walking around with a drink? Note they didn't confiscate or find any booze.

2. Can Park rangers lawfully search a campsite? Can they lawfully search the body of someone?

3. How can they prove that the cocaine belonged to "Friend 1" when it was on the ground? (It wasn't his! he has a criminal record !)

Anonymous said...

1. Did the Park Rangers have the right to evict our whole campsite just because they found one of the campers walking around with a drink? Note they didn't confiscate or find any booze.


2. Can Park rangers lawfully search a campsite? Can they lawfully search the body of someone?

Yes. They are peace officers.

3. How can they prove that the cocaine belonged to "Friend 1" when it was on the ground? (It wasn't his! he has a criminal record !)

You friend was holding cocaine...therefore he was in possession of cocaine...enough said!

Anonymous said...

I've had interactions with dozens and dozens of rangers and never had a negative experience. In fact, I've had several encounters where I was objectively breaking rules/laws (uh, drinking), and still managed to avoid negativity. Why? Because I wasn't a loud, obnoxious asshole about it.

Rhetorical question: do you really suppose a ranger cares about the drinking if you're not littering, disrupting others' experiences, or otherwise making a nuisance?

As the philosopher says, aw hell naw.