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Oakland, CA

Posted By Bakari

My plan had been to become a park ranger ever since high school.

I always knew I wanted to do a lot of different jobs, but once I had some varied experience, I was going to settle in the long term with park ranger.
I had dozens of different jobs, and then when I got bored of it, I went back to school and focused on stuff that would improve my chances of getting a ranger job: degrees in biology and earth science, an emergency medical technician certificate, and the pre-police academy course.

By this time I was in a long-term relationship with someone with a career in an urban area, and I didn't want to move out to a remote area as, since that would mean either forcing her to move or leaving her behind.

Oakland has around 1200 acres in 91 parks, including 500 acre Joaquin Miller, and has its own park rangers.
And just as I was beginning my job search after graduation, they were hiring. How convenient.

About 6 years ago they had 25 rangers.
Due to budget cuts this number went from 12, to 8, to 5.
At the time 2 of those 5 were not on active duty for one reason or another, leaving all of 3 people to cover the entire city's network of parks. They were trying to get back to 8.

I turned in the initial application. I passed the oral interview. I did excellent on the general intelligence test. I passed the physical test with lots of time to spare (timed obstacle course and strength test) and passed the psychological profile. Turned in the extensive background information. There are no hidden things in my past which should disqualify me. I got a letter saying I had been placed on the eligibility list.
And then...
I got another letter saying I wasn't. I wrote to inquire what had happened, and never heard back.

By this time BioDiesel Hauling had taken off, I was enjoying it, making good money, in the process of getting the green certification, and had just started the bike job, so I let it go.

About year later, I am well established in both jobs, and very happy with what I am doing. I am up in the park, and I happen to notice a brochure about the volunteer bike patrol. Looks like it could be fun. But I don't own a mountain bike.

Another 6 months go by, I get a mountain bike.
I take it to the closest park to my house, and lo and behold - Oakland allows cyclists to ride single track!! (See "we have some seriously f*cking gnarly...", August 6, 2008)
I applied for the program.

Yesterday was my interview.
As it happens the sergeant interviewing me was one of the ones who did last time.
The interview was more like a friendly chat. Most relaxed interview I have ever been in (last time there were 3 interviewers. I had to wear a suit. "Relaxed" would certainly not be a word I would have used to describe it)

I learned, among other things, that the budget for additional rangers was cut before the hiring process was completed. They ended up hiring 2 people, but also let 2 go, leaving the city with... 3 rangers. Only now instead of having a goal of 5-8, 3 is the number officially budgeted for.

Which means it wasn't (necessarily) anything to do with me when I didn't get hired. I wouldn't have gotten it no matter what, because the position I was applying for ceased to exist. Kind of would have been nice had they mentioned that at the time, but its nice to know now.

Looks like I will get to patrol the parks after all.
I just won't get paid anything for it.

On the plus side, I only go as often as I feel like it, and won't be required to make any arrests.
I have a motivator to actually get me off this damn computer and go outside and get some exercise and be in the outdoors.
And an excuse to buy some cool new bike equipment.

Here's to (probably) not having terrible things on my permanent record that I don't know about afterall!

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