Down The Trail Of Madness

, , , | Legal | August 5, 2019

(I work in the national forest through a program that employs high school kids with no work experience and pays them minimum wage for five weeks Monday through Thursday. It is hard manual labor, but honestly, no one minds because it is often the only job available to them. We work in teams of six or seven people under a team leader and often will go into the forest with a park ranger to tell us what to do. Our team leader for the week is a barely-five-foot woman who looks fairly frail, but she is loud and can do more work than two of us combined. We are working on blocking off unauthorized ATV and motorbike trails. The forest service is very serious on blocking off unauthorized trails permanently. This trail has seen a lot of use and it is damaging to the forest. We dig four- to eight-foot-deep holes and stick twelve-inch cedar fence posts in them across the trail. The posts block the trail off all the way to the trees on the other side. We have just finished putting the posts in and cementing them down, and everyone else has left for their lunch break, but I am not hungry yet. I am still working on piling rocks around the blockade. We all are required to wear long-sleeve shirts, safety glasses, high-vis vests, and hard hats. The hard hats have the program’s logo clearly emblazoned on them. A guy comes roaring up to me on a very loud ATV, nearly hits me, drifts, and sprays mud all over my face. He is probably 6’2” and at least 250 pounds; I am 5’ 9” and maybe 140.)

Me: *unhappy, wiping mud off my glasses* “You almost hit me! What the f*** are you doing?”

ATV Guy: “You’re the one in the way! What are you even doing, anyway?!”

Me: “Blocking off unsanctioned trails.”

ATV Guy: “But why? There’s nothing wrong with them!”

Me: “Yes, there is. They destroy the ecosystem, and they are damaging a part of the forest that is trying to regrow.”

ATV Guy: “So what? People enjoy that trail.”

Me: “That’s not the point.”

ATV Guy: “Unblock it! I want to ride there!”

Me: “I am afraid I can’t do that, sir. If you have a problem with it I can lead you to my manager; she is on lunch break right now but you should only have to wait a little while.”

ATV Guy: “Fine! Where is she?!”

(I lead him to her and explain the problem. Then, I go get my lunch and start eating. In no less than two minutes, she is screaming at him at full volume and poking a finger in his chest with more ferocity than a disappointed southern grandma. He is shrinking back and she is chewing him for being an idiot and yelling at a fifteen-year-old kid.)

Manager: “WHAT EVEN IS YOUR PROBLEM, YELLING AT SOMEONE LIKE THAT, ALMOST HITTING THEM, AND ACTING LIKE THEY DID SOMETHING WRONG WHEN YOU ARE BEING THE IDIOT? HOW CAN YOU EVEN LIVE WITH YOURSELF, YOU COMPLETE IMBECILE? NOT TO MENTION ASKING HIM TO UPROOT SEVERAL POSTS SET FOUR FEET DEEP IN CONCRETE AND COVERED IN ROCKS AND BRUSH SO YOU CAN CONTINUE TO DESTROY THE ECOSYSTEM WE AND THE FOREST SERVICE ARE WORKING SO HARD TO PRESERVE! DISGRACEFUL AND DISGUSTING! GET OUT OF MY SIGHT AND LEAVE MY WORKERS ALONE!”

ATV Guy: “I–”

Manager: “NO, JUST GET OUT AND LEAVE!”

(He leaves. The park ranger working with us comes over asking what all the commotion was about. My manager answers with a full account and the park ranger just says we hope he leaves and we don’t have to deal with him again. We all go back to work and find him crashed into our blockade, with ATV tracks leading a few hundred feet perpendicular to the trail. Obviously, he’d tried to get a running start to crash through the barrier, which at that point was about five feet tall because we still wanted brush in front of it even when it decomposed and dried and flattened down. His ATV is totaled and he is, if possible, even more pissed. The park ranger tells us all to leave and we do. She gathers us up about an hour later.)

Ranger: “[ATV Guy] is in custody and is on his way to jail.” *pointing to my manager and me* “I need a detailed report from you, and then I need the rest of you to corroborate their accounts.”

(I filled out about four pages of forms, as did my manager, and my coworkers all signed as witnesses. As far as I can tell, the guy was arrested for the following charges: assault, destruction of private property — he ran over some poor guy’s tent; thankfully it was unoccupied — destruction of public property — denting the posts for the blockade — and operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol. He also had an outstanding warrant for his arrest for a previous crime that none of us were told about.)

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