"This job used to be more fun," some of us old-timers are heard to say, and it's true. The temporary employees I supervise now seem less happy, more stressed out than we used to be when we were in their shoes. Back then, we didn't try to have it all, like people now want to: we knew houses and expensive vehicles were out of our reach, so we didn't worry about them. We floated around the country like a gypsy tribe, working at whatever forest or park where we could get a job, and traveled, couch surfed, or worked somewhere else in the winters. At work, there was minimal paperwork, no online training, fewer regulations.
We had no social media, no "influencers" or "internet models" to make us feel inadequate if we didn't look perfect. There were no filters on pictures; what you saw in the photo was what you looked like for real. You could be as in touch as you wanted to be, or not. Sometimes a letter would come in the mail from a long lost friend; this was exciting. You navigated with maps and occasionally some word of mouth; secret spots stayed secret and rarely got ruined. I got to see some amazing places with nobody in them; now those lakes and mountains are overrun on most days.
When we went on fires, people didn't sit hunched over their phones during lunch breaks. I remember discussing literature on a nameless hill, everybody examining the books people had brought. We built creative furniture out of fire hose and limbs we cut. People made art projects out of paracord and spent up to three weeks in the woods with no news media stories. Mostly we were out of touch with the outside world; we left it and its problems behind.
I know this sounds like the nostalgic musings of an older person about "the good old days." It's true that not everything was great, and that some of the advances in technology since then have made things safer and more convenient. But these things have also brought more worries and pressures with them. I'm glad I didn't have those. I might be vintage, but I have had the gift of some amazing times that are gone for good.
|Cameron reads a women's magazine while Russ takes a break from paracord; homemade pullup bar in the background, somewhere on a fire in Alaska, back in the day.|