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.)


ATV Guy: “I–”


(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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When Being Chatty Saves People

, , , , , | Hopeless | July 15, 2019

(I’m walking to the library with my four-year-old. She’s skipping alongside me, chattering happily, waving frantically, and yelling, “HI!” at everyone we pass and every car that goes past. Nothing unusual. About a block from the library, she waves and says, “Hi!” into what I think is just an empty laneway, but as we step forward, I realise there’s an elderly man standing there in his pajamas, in the middle of the lane, with a small dog running in circles around his feet.)

Man: “Why, hello, young lady! Out for a walk, are we?”

Daughter: “Yep! We’re going to the library!”

(The old man looks confusedly at us for a moment. At first, I think it’s because my daughter’s speech impediment means she pronounces it as, “yiberry,” but as we pause, I realise that he has no shoes on and his pajama pants are covered in mud. I can also see that his feet are bleeding in a few places, like he’s been stepping on prickles. It’s INCREDIBLY cold today and I finally realise how cold he must be, and his dog isn’t on a lead but seems to be getting more and more worked up.)

Me: “Yep, off to the library. Where are you off to today, mate?”

Man: “Ah… I’m a bit late for work! I work down at the ice works but, well, bit embarrassing but I seem to have gotten turned around.”

(The ice works in our town is now a historical site. It hasn’t been operational in almost forty years at this point.)

Me: “Happens to the best of us, mate. I know the way, though; how about you come with us?”

(After a bit of convincing and my daughter excitedly yelling about her new friend coming along, I convince him to come out onto the footpath and stand on the grass instead of the asphalt. Trying to give him my jacket doesn’t work — he staunchly refuses to take “a young lass’s jacket on a cold day” — and he is getting more agitated but never angry or violent. I stand there wondering what the heck to do next when suddenly a car screeches to a stop at the kerb. A middle-aged man leaps out of the car and hurtles towards us.)

Younger Man: “DAD! Dad, Jesus Christ, I’ve been looking for you everywhere! What the h*** are you doing?”

(The guy honestly looks like he’s about to cry, as does his dad, who seems even more confused at this point.)

Older Man: “No time to play right now, [Younger Man]. I’m late for work, mate. I gotta go.”

(The younger guy tries for a few minutes to convince his dad to get in the car, to no avail, when my daughter pipes up from behind us.)

Daughter: “Excuse me! Maybe it’s warm in the car, and you can go home and get your shoes for work!” 

(The older man seemed to accept this, after checking his feet and realising he did, indeed, have no shoes on. After the older guy and his dog were safely stowed away, his son informed me that they live CLEAR across town, and the guy had been missing for FIVE HOURS in the freezing cold. His little dog had seen him take off and obviously decided that his human shouldn’t go alone, and they’d been at large for most of the day. The younger man thanked me profusely, even though I barely did anything, and I’ve never been so thankful that my daughter wants to talk to everyone she meets.)

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Directions As Wrong As Their Attitude

, , , , | Right | July 5, 2019

(We have a lot of cruise ships visit our town during summer. Today, there are two large ones in town. Consequently, there are a lot of tourists wandering around. I’m walking my dog around the wharf area, dressed in an old pair of jeans, T-shirt, and shoes to match. A couple of tourists approach me.)

Tourist: “Excuse me, sir, could you tell me where the Tourist Information Office is?”

Me: “Sure, it’s just over there.“ *points* “You can see the sign.”

Tourist: “Thank you.” *walks off*

(Another couple of tourists see this.)

Tourist #2: “Hi. I wonder if you could point us in the direction of the art gallery?

Me: “No problems. It’s just over the road there; the entrance is at that end of the building.”

(Another woman is hovering, and as soon as [Tourist #2] walks off she comes up.)

Tourist #3: *rudely* “Where’s [Tourist Attraction]?”

Me: “I beg your pardon?”

Tourist #3: “You heard me. Where’s [Tourist Attraction]? You’re the tourist guide; you should know where everything is.”

Me: *looking down at my clothes and my dog* “Um…”

Tourist #3: “Hurry up; I haven’t got all day!”

Me: “Okay, go up that road two blocks, turn right, go down a block, and you can’t miss it.”

Tourist #3: “Humph.”

(I continued to walk my dog, secure in the knowledge that she was heading in the opposite direction to the one she asked me for.)

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They Deserve A Cat Nap After This Rescue

, , , , , , | Hopeless | June 10, 2019

(I’m driving home from the grocery store at around 2:00 pm and I am about to pull into a left turn lane. This is a really busy street. A bunch of cars in front of me get a green light and are about to start going. One car throws their door open and drops a tiny kitten out onto the middle of the road in front of my car. I stop my car, blocking the lane, throw on my hazards, and hop out. Yes, I realize it’s incredibly dangerous, and a really poorly thought-out move.)

Me: “Here, kitty.”

(As I make noises to call the cat, a woman on the other side of the street calls out to me.)

Woman: “Is that your baby?”

Me:No! Someone just threw it on to the road.”

Woman: “If it comes this way, I’ll grab it.”

(I am able to run, grab the kitten, and wrap it in my sweater, but not without getting scratched and bitten. It calms down, and I’m able to get strapped in before any other cars come by in my lane and before the light turns green. I head home and wake my husband up.)

Me: *crying and talking fast* “Babe, I was driving home and someone dropped a kitten out of their car in front of me. I’ll totally take it to the humane society since we said we didn’t want more pets. But I’m upset and I need you.”

Husband: *calming me down* “Looks like we have a new member of the family.”

(It’s been three weeks. The vet says he’s perfectly healthy. He’s fully acclimated to our other three cats and our kids. He’s the sweetest little love bug. Thanks to the jerk who threw a kitten out of their car, we now have an amazing new member of the family.)

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Hell’s Angels’ Little Angel

, , , , , , , | Hopeless | May 26, 2019

There is a scenic overlook close enough to our house that we generally take the drive every fall and spring. There are breathtaking vistas about every three miles. My middle child has disabilities and can get overwhelmed by things. She doesn’t particularly like heights but will look out the window each time we pull over to take pictures. She is content, though, to stay in the van with the door open.

At one stop, I was taking pictures when I heard a large group of motorcycles roll in. I knew what would happen next.

Sure enough, when I turned around, my child had unbuckled, jumped out of the van, and run over to the bikers. She loves motorcycles and those who ride them. She doesn’t talk much but can say, “Oooh! Nice!” clearly.

I walked over and listened to the bikers telling my daughter about their bikes and asking her what she thought of each.

I asked if I could take a picture of them all and they all smiled and posed. My very short daughter, clad in pink, was surrounded by men and women in black leather. They all smiled brightly for the shot.

Then, each handed me their cell phones so they could get a picture of their own.

We chatted on that vista for another fifteen minutes or so. My daughter sat on one man’s bike while he and I discussed the best lunch destinations nearby.

My daughter was disappointed that she didn’t get to ride off with her new friends, but she was happy enough to get hugs and high-fives before we went our separate ways.

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