The hour is late -- or early, depending on your perspective. I'm struggling to focus after grading papers way past midnight. And I'm obsessing about an unexpected phone call I got from my son Drake this afternoon -- while he knew I was teaching and when he should have been in school. A phone call that left me crying in the parking lot of the base medical center, because one of the hardest things about being a parent is when shit that shouldn't happen does happen to your kids. Even when your kid is 29 years old the urge to protect still runs strong.
Some of you know Drake and know that he's spent the past three years studying to become a national park ranger. I wrote about the day I helped him and his fiance Montana move away in 2011. I won't repeat that story here. I'll just say he has worked his ass off the past three years to achieve his goals, and so has Montana, who is now working three jobs as a paramedic. I'm so proud of them.
Drake is in his last and hardest semester of the program: law enforcement academy. It's both mentally and physically demanding, but he's dedicated and sure of his path. Or he was until he found out his entire class of future national park rangers have been unexpectedly fucked by the National Park Service.
Their classes were cancelled late last week and yesterday with no explanation. Today, Tuesday, they were supposed to come in late at 1:30. When he got there, one of his teachers told him their program had been discontinued. Three months from graduation .... after three years of training in all kinds of things from search and rescue to chain saw management to EMT training to fish identification (not easy for a guy who's color blind).
The end was in sight and the party was planned, and now they simply aren't going to get to finish. They have no chance of earning their certification. Drake has little chance of earning his national park ranger certification ever.
I don't know all the details. Something about the NPS revamping the program in 2015 so this class wouldn't be current if they were allowed to graduate. Something about the programs at 8 of the 12 schools that offer the certification being closed. I'm sure more will come out in the days to follow.
In the meantime .... I'm just so fucking pissed that my kid got fucked over like that. I know life isn't fair, but sometimes a thing is so unethical, so cold, so fucking shitty that it defies all logic. This is one of those things. It was bad enough he lost his dream of becoming a pilot when he was five and we found out he was color blind. That is, at least, a choice of nature. Nobody to blame.
This though required somebody to make a decision to just cut off all of these young future rangers at the knees. Somebody decided it. And here's what I hope happens to that person.
Anyway, I'm sorry. It's 3:00 am, and I'm having trouble thinking of anything else to write about tonight. Drake had calmed down and was already considering other options when I talked to him. He and his buddies were planning on building a bonfire, drinking a lot, and burning their textbooks tonight.
Tomorrow, he'll go in and continue his work to finish the law enforcement academy. That part he can still do, and he has a variety of employment options other than the National Park Service after that. Fuck them anyway. Fuck them.