Cleaning bathrooms aside, it often comes as a surprise to people that my job doesn't always involve hanging out in beautiful locales, high above treeline. The agency has really shifted since the days of the horseback ranger who fixed fence, fought fires, and everything else in between. There is a whole dark side (at least for me) that involves the paperwork end of things.
Case in point. My day yesterday:
7 am. Plow contract guy calls, says the snow park needs a plow. Make phone call. Authorize plow. Realize that even though there is a foot of new snow, skiing isn't in my future. Envy retired people.
7:30 am. Arrive at office. Five phone messages. None simple, all require staring at maps, doing calculations, reassurance, or imparting bad news. (No, you can't do that, yes, you need a permit, No, we haven't gotten to that yet.) Look at comments to nepa document and try to figure out how to answer them. Unable to do so. Give up for now.
10 am. Finally get to main task of day. Finish it. Receive phone call. Information is missing from spreadsheet. Look it up. Fix it. Figure out how to attach documents to agreements in I-web. Unreasonably excited about this.
12:00. Eat lunch while working on computer. Worry about crumbs on keyboard. Outfitter has sent in annual operating plan but with nothing filled in. Sigh. Look up information and add it. Ponder ambiguous message from regional office. Go into workplan and shuffle dollars around, again.
2 pm. Finally make it to gym. Endure boring elliptical workout.
3 pm. Three more phone messages. Attempt to solve issues raised. Receive signed Decision Memo from Forest Supervisor for lands permit. Unreasonably excited about this.
4 pm. Personality conflicts. Stare out at mountains and wilderness. Sigh.
5 pm. Leave.
Winter is always the hardest in jobs like these. Field season is why we are in this. As winter drags on, people snap. I saw it a lot in Alaska, where lack of light and lots of rain made the most reasonable person a bit unbalanced. (The unreasonable ones, you knew to avoid at all costs). The whole office dynamic is a complicated, shifty thing. All you hear is tapping of keys, as people earnestly work on reports, permits and maps. I'm ready for summer! The mountains are waiting.