Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Time Out For Jen

When you were a little kid, did you ever get a Time Out? Say you did something mean to a classmate. Your teacher made you take a Time Out in the hallway to separate you from the situation and (hopefully) make you think about what you'd done.

Ranger Jen needs a Time Out. But this is a Preemptive Time Out.

For years, I liked learning about politics. Then I got away from it for a while. I just sort of steered away while doing other things.

But my job - as with many others - can be very political. Or at the very least, influenced by politics.

The past week or so, my mind has been drawn in. Imagine if you pulled the plug on a bathtub full of water. As the tub drains, the water circles and circles the drain before falling through. I feel like my mind is moving in those never-ending circles.

I need to thoughtful, conscientious, well-informed and educated when I speak my mind. And at the moment, I don't think I can hold myself back. I want to scream and shout and show people the error of their ways. Sadly, unless some folks get put in front of the proverbial firing squad, I doubt they'll learn.

For now, I'll just leave it at this:

Please, Please, PLEASE do NOT support the Republican idea of a Federal Hiring Freeze. You know what? I see that some jobs can be eliminated. But I see where this action could really hurt us in the long run. This is the time of year when the National Park Service is starting to recruit and hire their seasonal staff for next summer. A large portion of the Rangers you see in your parks only work 4-6 months of the year - withOUT benefits like insurance or retirement - because it's a job they love, they believe in, and serves their country well. The rest of the year they find work elsewhere. And we have millions of park visitors to take care of each year. I've worked in a park where we were short-handed - I could tell you a few unpleasant stories. And I WAS that seasonal employee. It would take me a while to count up the employees, but my guess is that out all divisions, two-thirds to three-quarters of our East District staff at Mount Rainier were seasonal - and most, if not all, of the permanent employees were subject-to-furlough (unpaid leave at least 2-4 weeks each year).

Interestingly, I have the statistics on how many visitors we served in 2010. I compiled the East District statistics. Have no fear, when I calm down tomorrow, you'll get more Mount Rainier statistics than you'd ever care to read. And I'll send the spreadsheets to anyone interested.

If we can't hire our seasonal staff this year, I really think our parks - and park visitors - are going to be Screwed. With a capital S. If you plan on visiting a National Park this summer, consider this situation. Please.

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