Sunday, August 25, 2013

Paging Ranger Smith

It always strikes me as funny when people, adults, I mean, become indignant when they're caught breaking the law.  It almost always becomes the fault of the person who caught them.  Teachers know this phenomenon very well...we frequently take the brunt of the blame from the miscreants throwing spitballs or using cell phones in class, like we're just supposed to LET them!  But I've found that, more often than not, embarrassment is at the root of the rage, and if they're allowed to save face, the response is quite a bit better.

The same is true for adults.  My personal trauma upon receiving speeding tickets has always been the horror of being a spectacle on the side of the road...thankfully, those are the only brushes with the law I've ever had.  (I'm quickly diving through years of memories to make sure that's true...I'm pretty confident...) But here's the thing...it's not like I've never done anything wrong...all of us have, at some point, and to some degree.  Nothing major, of course, just some mild hell-raising in my youth, but stuff I could have gotten in a little trouble for, for sure.
Anyway, this was all a great source of amusement for me today while at Sherando Lake with the family.  This is a gorgeous CCC-created recreation area deep in the heart of the Washington and Jefferson National Forests, complete with campgrounds and swimming area/beach, which was our staycation destination du jour.  We spent the day chillin' on the beach with MTO sandwiches from Sheetz, a couple of good books, and lots of sand toys.  The one thing we didn't have? Alcohol...'cause you can't!  

I've taken alcohol lots of places I shouldn't have.  A twelve pack into a movie theater to see Rattle and Hum with the BFF comes to mind.  Airplane bottles of liquor stashed in my bra to football games may have also happened a time or two...dozen.  But guess what...I didn't get caught.  (Okay, I realize that I risk incurring the wrath of the karma gods right here, but what the hell!)  I didn't get caught because a)I'm smart as hell, b)I'm hypervigilant and over-observant, and c)because it's just not that hard NOT to.

These people broke every rule of Not Getting Caught.  Two gigantic chest coolers for four people, to start.  Obvious giveaway, especially when three of the four are women, and all are thin.  Corn-hole boards were the next mistake.  Not because you have to drink while playing corn-hole (okay, yes, you DO, because it's frigging boring if you aren't), but because it makes you visible. The key to breaking rules is to be unobtrusive.  And finally, the use of plastic cups with no 2-liter bottles or jugs of lemonade in sight.  C'mon, people, camouflage! But the biggest rule they broke?  Not reading the signs, because even if you're inclined to be ballsy, the "STRICTLY ENFORCED" should stop you, if you're smart.  They weren't.

The park ranger, oops, I mean CONSERVATION OFFICER, was smart, and badass.  No Ranger Smith, this one. From her first words, "What 's in the cup, Yuengling?" she was assertive and stern, much to my delight.  It was clear that she'd been watching them and they were too stupid to notice.  The mother of the girls...yes, the mother, attempted some negotiating and didn't listen to requests to leave her bag where it was, and was met with, "Do you want to go to jail?" I had a great view for this entire exchange, hidden behind my sunglasses and a book...and secretly hoped she'd cuff them, simply because they were being assholes and acting like it was their RIGHT to be drinking.  Anyway, after more entertainment, they were taken to the office and cited, then packed up and left, their sympathetic friends muttering about how the officer was "overly aggressive and condescending." 

She was nowhere near condescending enough, it turns out, because as we discussed the incident with Andrew, he laid it all out.  "They should have put it in a Gatorade bottle and added food coloring." 

 I'm afraid for the future...and more than a little proud. 

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