Due to circumstances too boring to explain, I somehow ended up with the dubious distinction of being the second female park ranger ever at our local campground. It’s a seasonal, temporary job with low pay. They were operating with a skeleton crew, which made them desperate enough to take on a petite woman who swore she knew how to ride a lawn mower and use a weedwhacker. They also agreed to my schedule which minimizes the need for child care, which makes the low pay quite acceptable. Not to mention my office is pretty darn beautiful! I am working on the edge of Lake Huron, one of the Great Lakes surrounding my state and a mere 4 miles from my home.
Of course, there are always downsides. One being the weedwhacker. I don’t know why men feel compelled to comment on a woman doing yard work. I have an acre myself, and took care of it long before I got married. However, I was gifted (from dear friends, one who is a small woman like myself) a very light weedwhacker. This darn thing got heavy after 45 minutes. I was beginning to have my doubts about the job.
Fortunately I have a great boss, and he fixed the balance on the evil weedwhacker, plus rigged up a harness for me. I can work longer now, but my hand still shakes when I am done. I suspect he noticed on our lunch break, because he had me mow after that.
Now mowing is a treat. We aren’t a large campground, but we have long term folks with hoses and electrical cords on their sites. I am not to run over these. I am living in fear of mowing the sites. My boss has been kind, and let me just do the open park area so far. Even that has two hills that leaves me grippping the steering wheel and praying I don’t tip over and leave my children without a mother.
Not to say I haven’t had some victories. Today I used the hydraulics on the front of the mower to move three picnic tables all by myself, and without incident. My first lesson went poorly, shall we say. America’s Funniest Home Videos kind of poorly. I moved those tables and was singing Michael Jackson’s “Bad” to myself.
Today was day number four. Day number one meant learning about fish guts. We have a special freezer for fish guts. We empty it into the dumpster on Monday. Some folks had dumped their remains in there on Tuesday. This led to stench and maggots. I no longer eat breakfast. I drink my coffee black too, because creamer is too iffy if I end up finally hurling. If I survive the summer, I will have to share my fish guts and maggot exposure diet, along with a steady regime of weedwhacking and lifting trash cans.
I was convinced that fishermen, like smokers, will be clean if you allow them to be. Smokers will use ashtrays left outside for them. If the fishermen only knew about the freezer, they would use. I made up a sign to put around the park informing them that we have a place for fish guts.
Oh, it worked! Today the fish gut freezer was FULL! My boss pulls up next to me and motions for me to turn the mower down. “Are you a problem solver?”
“The freezer is full. What would you do?”
Cry is not the answer he is seeking. “We are part of the Township. We can use the landfill. We can get a permit at the Township Hall. Or we can call the slaughterhouse up the road and see if they have any ideas.” I assumed he wanted legal options. I could think of several illegal ones, but it is my first week.
He heads off to make some calls and I resume mowing. Tomorrow will be too busy to mow, so I would like to finish the septic field before I leave. I am nearly done when he pulls back beside me.
“Want to go for a ride?” Why not? I think to myself, though I suspect this is going to be unpleasant.
It was. We had to unload the fish gut freezer into the back of the truck. Heads were jutting out of bags, and I had to watch for spikes. We take the back roads to the landfill. We wait our turn, and covet the nice dry wood in the truck ahead of us. Why is that going to the dump? We could burn that! The nice lady tells me that they want to bury our load, so we have to go down to the crater. I am given a walkie talkie, two hard hats, and two neon vests.
Judging from the number of seagulls, some being quite overweight, I don’t think they had a chance to bury what we brought. I am betting it was carnage once we pulled away. I didn’t look back. I was trying hard not to breathe, since I planned on eating food at some point after this. The aroma of fish innards, banana peels and general decay are definitely appetite suppressants. The knowledge that my gloves, the back of the truck, and the freezer were all grody again did not lift my spirits.