Yesterday was the kind that wears a ranger out. It was great, I love my job, but I was tired at the end. It was the hottest day of the summer, and under my ballistic vest I stewed in my own juices. The day started with training on rappelling and ascending cliff faces, moved on to an actual SAR carryout of a woman with a broken ankle, and from there I did a regular law enforcement and fees compliance patrol. I encountered some locals who didn’t have an entrance pass and were pretty cranky, entitled, and passive-aggressive. Half an hour before my shift ended, I was the closest unit to a car accident that resulted in getting off an hour late. Today I have about six hours of report writing ahead of me.
I love my job, all of it, even the passive-aggressive cranky locals, but at the end of the day I was one tired puppy. Right before leaving the office I checked my park e-mail, something I hadn’t had time to do during my shift, just to make sure I didn’t miss anything vital. There was a message forwarded from the chief ranger. It turned out to be an e-mail from some people I helped a few weeks ago who locked their keys in the car. They wrote a few really nice sentences about their interaction with me and how appreciative they were. And there it was: it matters. Even the mundane things matter to our visitors, and they see us working. The man said at the end of their trip, his grandson said he wants to be a park ranger one day. Isn’t that something?
I left the office feeling a lot less tired. Truth be told, I was grinning ear to ear. The positive feedback is important. Saying “thank you” to someone who does their job well is important. I write to fast food corporations, airlines, and so on when I have really positive interaction but this is the first time I’ve received such a note. It makes a difference.