Monday, January 1, 2007


Through the tall windows of the meeting hall, distant mountain peaks could be faintly observed. The National Park Service training conference was coming to an end after two weeks and the closing address was being delivered to the gathered multitude. The featured speaker was moving in for the kill with all the vigor he could muster. “Now listen up fellow rangers and resource professionals, we didn’t wrack our brains and tear out our souls to come up with the Vail Agenda, Ranger Futures, Ranger Careers, VERP (Visitor Experience & Resource Protection), Mission Renewal, the IDP (Interpretive Development Plan), the Interpretive Renaissance and most recently the Reorganization of the Associateship just to simply amuse ourselves! No brothers and sisters, these are the intricately planned stepping-stones that will take us into a new century of resource protection. Confident of a thankful nation’s mandate, we must continue to be stewards of excellence by engaging people in building enduring connections with America’s special places!”

The gathered assemblage of rangers, agency wonks, and training junkies immediately stood and roared back a deafening wave of applause. On the podium the deputy assistant undersecretary bowed in earnest gratitude at this spontaneous display of unbridled enthusiasm by such a large gathering of agency professionals. He needed to say more.
“Let me conclude, that each of us must take back to our units the igniting spark of support for this exciting new initiative. Let us each together move forward in support of this necessary move towards a more nationally monitored field-based approach to problem solving. This latest WASO program, Hands Inside The Pocket (HITP), spells out how to come up with solutions at the grass roots level. The dictates of the plan will facilitate more independent action as oversight from WASO increases with concomitant reductions in monetary support. It’s all so very simple folks! Now let’s go back to our home parks and light some fires for HITP!”

Tilden Goodstuv, Assistant Chief Naturalist, began leaping up and down as every pair of clapping hands stood to give a second demonstration of enthusiasm for this captivating and inspirational leader. It was as if a Pentecostal auctioneer of God had just thundered a sermon to the faithful. Tilden was so charged up that he started giving high fives to all those seated around him. Their befuddlement and sudden fear at this overt display of personal zeal was hardly noticed by youthful Tilden. He was swimming in the moment, almost speaking and thinking in tongues, profoundly moved by the meaning of what had just taken place.

While gathering up his things he noticed that the departing speaker was walking up the aisle of chairs Tilden was sitting in. Hastily reaching out his hand toward the departing hero he said, “You were really great. I can’t wait to meet with my staff next week and rev them up on this new phase in their careers.”

A beaming Mr. Deputy Undersecretary replied, “Thanks, I’m sure that we in WASO are going to need all the field level support we can get in this initial phase of implementation.”

“I’m so glad that I taped it. Now my wife Penny can get a chance to hear it too.”

Looking at Tilden’s conference badge the deputy under secretary asked, “Where do you work Mr. Goodstuv?”

“I’m Assistant Chief Naturalist at Grand Milkbags.”

“Ah yes, in Nevada?”

“Wyoming. We’re near Jellystone Park. You know, like in Yogi Bear?”

“Oh yes, do you know Herb Wormley, Deputy Assistant Administrative Officer for Yellowstone?”

“I met him briefly at the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Interagency Regional Impact Study Conference (GYEIRISC) back in 1999”, Tilden eagerly replied.

“Great guy. We used to be good friends when we both worked in the old Mid-Atlantic Regional Office in Philadelphia. Tell him I said hi the next time you see him.”

“You bet I will. Take care!” Tilden exclaimed as he began vigorously shaking the under secretary’s arm like he was pumping a well.

Backing away from Tilden, the under secretary said, “It was nice meeting you Mr. Goodstuv” and headed out the door.

Tilden stood for a silent moment glowing in a sort of sacred reverie.

Later in the lobby, his hand cupped over the mouthpiece to keep out the noise, he phoned Penny, “you’ll never guess who I met today honey.”


Anonymous said...

Hands Inside the Pocket? Tell me you made that up.

beamis said...