Strangers in the parking lot often think they know exactly what I need, and they don’t stand behind the door to tell me.
One afternoon, the trail had hardly any visitors. Only one car was parked in the entire lot. I was getting ready to leave for the day when the family that belonged to the car exited the trail.
The family consisted of three people. I think it was a mom, a dad, and their grown (or nearly so) daughter.
Looking at me sitting in my folding chair in the shade, You need a booth! Dad declared in his East coast accent.
That would cost money, I countered.
Of all the things the National Forest needs, I’m sure a booth for a parking lot attendant is pretty far down on the list. The man probably didn’t consider the permits and permissions necessary to build something on federal land. And who would pay for it? The company I work for or the Forest Service? Obviously this man had given little thought to the implementation of his booth plan.
It could be ten by ten, Dad went on, as if a small booth wouldn’t cost money. Maybe he thought no one would mind something so little.
It would get hot in a booth, I continued my naysaying.
Oh! You’d have an air conditioner, ever optimistic Dad came back with immediately.
Suddenly we’d gone from a cheap shack to one with amenities.
This was getting ridiculous!
There’s no electricity out here, I told them.
You could get a generator! Daughter said brightly.
I kept shaking my head, and I’m sure I was making a face of displeasure too.
I no longer wanted to participate in the conversation (which hadn’t been my idea in the first place). No matter what objections I raised, these people were going to have an answer. I suppose it’s nice to be optimistic, but they saw a need that wasn’t there and didn’t ask me what I could use to make my life better. Instead they told me what I needed, offered no suggestions on how to fund the project, and kept adding “comforts” to solve problems they were creating. Is this how civilization grew out of control?
I guess it might be nice to sit surrounded by these trees, the daughter conceded.
Yes, it is nice to sit in the shade among the trees. I don’t want to be cooped up in a booth. I don’t want to need an air conditioner because I’m stuck in a tiny room with no air flow. I don’t want to listen to a loud generator for hours at a time.
I also don’t want to converse with strangers who think they know what I need when actually they have no idea, but that’s one of the hazards of my job.