It was almost time for me to leave the parking lot at the end of a busy Sunday in August. A car with a license plate indicating a person with a disability was in the vehicle had pulled in, and I walked over to move the bucket my co-worker and I had been using to reserve a parking space for just that reason.
As I stood there, bucket in hand, waiting for the car to make the loop, a pickup truck stopped next to me. The woman in the passenger seat leaned her head out to the open window.
We just wanted to let you know…she began.
I looked at her expectantly.
When we were on the trail…There were some kids, young adults…she quickly corrected herself. They were smoking pot.
They shouldn’t be smoking out there, I said, not even mentioning the pot. The woman in the truck seemed a little startled that I wasn’t upset about what the kids young adults were smoking.
I care exactly zero that people were indulging in marijuana. I do care that they were smoking on the trail. They should not have been smoking anything on the trail. The whole area was under a strict fire ban, and folks were only supposed to smoke (cigarettes or whatever) in a closed vehicle.
But what did this woman think I was able to do? As I told her, the Forest Service is in charge of the trail side of the highway, and the company I work for is in charge of the parking lot side of the road. I have no authority to enforce anything on the trail side of the road. (Any power of enforcement I have in the parking lot is tenuous at best.)
Even if I did cross the highway and assume authority, how would I know when I found the pot smoking kids young adults? Would I just say Were y’all smoking weed? Were y’all smoking weed? to every group of kids young adults I encountered on the path? I doubt anyone would have admitted to it even if they had been smoking pot out there.
Besides, there’s a mile and a quarter of trail and two possible official trail entrances/exits (as well as multiple off-trail ways to enter and exit). I could have walked the trail loop for hours and never encountered the people the woman had (allegedly) seen smoking pot. The smokers could have been halfway home while I was still searching for them.
Before the truck left the parking lot, the woman told me the pot smokers were the ones with the loud music. I spent the rest of my time at work waiting for people with loud music to exit the trail, but it didn’t happen before I left.
I just hope those potheads were being super careful.