“Hey, you’re working me out of a job here!” Whoa, who said that? I looked in the direction of the voice. Some guy crouched on the ground by a picnic grill, looking directly at me. He was holding the grill by the base while another guy was working on installing the top. I realized they were both maintenance men working for the state park.
From my position in the field, I tried to gauge his demeanor; was he serious or just kidding around. I couldn’t tell one way or the other. I was in a quandary as to what to do next.
I’d been walking along the shoreline of Lackawanna Lake, using my litter picker to snag old styrofoam bait containers, tangled fishing line, and food wrappers. Just your typical fisherman trash; left behind like they expected some magical fairy trash picker to come along and clean up after them. That was me, I guess.
It was over two weeks since I’d come to the park and I was desperately seeking ways to work at my volunteer position as camp host. From time to time there were campers who came over to ask a question or two: Where’s the nearest laundromat? How do we get to the Falls? Other than that my self-imposed duties were taking walks around the park, kayaking on the lake, and visiting the local libraries in Clark Summit and Dalton.
I wasn’t allowed to clean out fire pits; that was the job of the maintenance guys. No cleaning the restrooms or sweeping the walkways; once again, maintenance. I’d offered to help the naturalist; she didn’t need me. What was there for me to do? I should have been happy in my idleness.
So there I was just finishing my “something to do” litter patrol along the water and crossing the field to my car. It was a cool, sunny day and as I walked, I watched the geese mamas and papas foraging near the lakeshore with their new goslings. My mind was blank with just the pure enjoyment of the day while I crossed the field, picking some stray pieces of litter as I meandered along.
Now this maintenance guy was sputtering something about me doing his job. His comment stopped me mid-field. I looked over, feeling uneasy with the situation but giving him the benefit of the doubt, I offered to dump out the bag of rubbish I’d collected so as not to impinge on his job security. He answered that it was okay….this time.
I drove back to me campsite, gathered some logs and placed them in my campsite fire ring. Lighting the fire, I eased back into my camp chair and sat watching the flames licking at the logs and the smoke curling up to the treetops.
With the sun setting through the grove of trees and the campfire mellowing, I realized the absurdity and humor in what had transpired in the days events. I’d been out and out scolded for picking up litter.
Will wonders never cease.
(aka Tin Can Traveler)