So I am on this fire. The fire happens to be lying directly in the Path of Totality for the upcoming Great American Solar Eclipse on Monday. In anticipation of the large numbers of ridiculous tourists thronging into the area for the event, fire managers decided to contract out road security to an outside agency. The agency that got the contract, either by lowest bid or by Knowing Someone, is a rag-tag bunch of 19 year old kids that I suspect are all members of the same LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) group, probably out of Portland. Based on the information gleaned from several conversations, along with my own powers of observation, these kids were apparently recruited by the company owner for $11 an hour to take a two hour “unarmed security” course and sent out into the forest in knock-off black 5-11 pants to guard roads into the fire area.
Additionally, the Powers That Be thought it would a good idea to give these guys radios. Radios that are cloned to all of the fire frequencies. Ones they can talk on. In addition to 27 guys in fake BDUs calling in “SITUATION NORMAL” every hour, on the hour, they also have radio conversations that go something like this:
“NONAMEFIRE ROAD GUARD SECURITY HOTSPRINGS ROAD GUARD SECURITY ROGER HOW COPY?!?!!” (in all caps to denote drill-sergeantesque yelling - also please note lack of punctuation, emphasis or any way to determine whom is yelling out from whomelse, but somehow, they all know [I should probably take that radio class])
“NONAMEFIRE ROAD GUARD SECURITY! YOU ARE A GO!” (I guess this means he can talk?)
“HOT SPRINGS ROAD GUARD SECURITY REQUESTS A CONVERSATION ABOUT CLARIFICATION FOR HOT SPRINGS EMPLOYEES WORKERS AND CAMPERS AND HOT SPRINGS EMPLOYEES WORKERS AND GUESTS! ROGER HOW COPY?!?!?!” (huh?)
“NONAMEFIRE ROAD GUARD SECURITY HOTSPRINGS ROADGUARD SECURITY YOU ARE A GOOD COPY 10-4 BUDDY AND I WILL BE IN YOUR 20 IN APPROXIMATELY 30 MINUS. OR PLUS. IN AWHILE. OVER. ROGER. HOW COPY?!?!?!?”
“HOTSPRINGS ROADGUARD SECURITY ROGER COPY DO YOU COPY THAT? OVER AND OUT. ROGER.”
“NONAMEFIRE ROADGUARD SECURITY ROGER THAT’S A GOOD COPY OVER AND OUT.”
“HOTSPRINGS ROADGUARD SECURITY COME AGAIN THAT WASN’T A GOOD COPY!”
“NONAMEFIRE ROADGUARD SECURITY ROGER THAT’S A COPY. UH… COPY!?!?!?”
It goes on like this for hours. I don’t really mind since I have been stationed 10 minutes out of cell range for the last 5 days where there isn’t even FM radio reception and it’s the only entertainment or human interaction I get. It’s more fun when I am sitting close enough to watch them in action though, stopping carloads of nice hippies that are just trying to get to the nudist colony at the hotsprings for their eclipse orgy.
One of the guards has something that looks suspiciously like a ninja sword sticking out of his utility pants. One of them has a “Don’t Tread On Me” flag draped ceremoniously across the back trunk of his 1997 Honda Civic. One of them is wearing a bullet proof vest. One of them stands guard with a can of Deep Woods Off™ Bug Repellant in his hand like bear spray, ready for action, during every encounter.
They take their new, $11/hr job VERY seriously. We have absolutely no fear of any Pacific Crest Trail hikers accidentally penetrating our fire perimeter as the poor bastards follow the more than 100 mile detour along narrow, winding roads past at least 8 of these guys. I am sure the guards are also giving all of the Japanese tourists who are visiting the area for their Eclipse Fertility Rites an excellent taste of ‘MERICA.
Perhaps the funniest part about all of this is that none of the roads that they are guarding are technically closed, so the guards can’t actually stop anybody from driving down them. They’re mostly here for an “educate and orient” the public kind of role, which they are totally NAILING.
Me, on the other hand, I will be out here, riding out the Eclipocolypse near the boundary of the wilderness, isolated and cut off from civilization for 14 hours a day. We tried giving a ride to some of the PCT hikers the other day (way back when I had a partner for the day) who were totally over the whole 100 mile detour thing, but it took us out of our division and WAAAYYY up this road that may have doubled as a creek bed in the recent past. The hikers were nice though, and from Germany. Why someone would travel across the world to carry a backpack through the mountains is beyond me. Haven’t they heard of Disneyworld, air conditioning and NASCAR? I am sure our security guards could set them straight.
I am trying to alleviate my boredom by little fits of yoga and pretending to not have dozed off when the Division Supervisor drives by. I only have eight hours left to go today and I have already had second breakfast, a brunch and two lunches, so you could say that my life is on point, for a Hobbit.
I would just like to point out that every other EMT on this assignment is staged in full cellular coverage. I even went out and bought a second phone with a Verizon line to complement my AT&T coverage so I could avoid this. Instead, I get squirreled away at a remote camp to keep me “safe” from eclipse crazies (because the Dungeons & Dragons Security Forces and dirty firefighters are WAY better), with no shower for nine days and only one bar of cell service when I go down to the gravel pit for breakfast and dinner. How do I rate? What is the universe telling me? All I know is that it’s going to be one epic shower beer.
|They're decorating trail signs to coordinate with the tinfoil hats the visitors are wearing.|