Use of the Forest

Public use of Saginaw Forest is encouraged. Rules for the public's use include (but are not limited to):

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dealing with an annoying person

I just had to deal with a dog-walker with his dog off-leash, in the forest after close... I make my rounds on my bike as usual, partly to minimize the amount of mosquito bites that I have to suffer on a round, and partly because I want to be able to maximize the number of possible people that I would intercept. Since these rounds are part of my duties of the caretaker, they are exempt from the ban on bicycling in the forest (just as clearing trees from the trails is exempt from the ban on cutting wood).

Anyway, I approach the man and inform him that he needs to put his dog on a leash. He moves toward his dog, but doesn't leash it, instead challenging me as to who I was. I informed him that I was the caretaker, and that he was also inside the forest after it was closed. Instead of riding off, I waited for him to put his dog on the leash, which he eventually did, but without more challenges to my asking him to follow the rules -- "it's also against the rules to ride bikes in Saginaw Forest." I informed him that I was making rounds. "Where is that written? Where can I find that?" Just a little touchy, he was.

I followed him along the west trail toward the north. He was not happy that I was doing so, and informed me that I wasn't intimidating him, and that it looked to him that I was giving Marvin a run for his money. I was trying to do neither. Of course, I could have gone ahead. However, when faced with a person who knowingly breaks the rules of conduct, challenges a person who asks him to follow the rules, challenges the caretaker's right to ask him to follow the rules, and accusing the caretaker of trying to intimidate him, I was not exactly sanguine.

He informed me that he had lived in this nice little city ("When it was a nice little city") for forty years and that caretakers will come and go, but that he will continue to stay. I have no problem with that. However, if someone who knowingly breaks the rules gets angry with another person telling them to follow the rules, that level of presumed privilege is something that just grates on my nerves; to get angry with the person who is tasked with upholding the rules is just counter-intuitive.

Tonight's man wasn't the first person that I've had to deal with. The rules are clearly posted, and tell people what is and isn't allowed. These people know the rules (either from years of experience or from just being told what the rules are by the caretaker), yet some get angry that the rules are being enforced on them. My opinion is that if you consciously know that you are breaking the rules, you have no reasonable right to get upset when enforcement happens.

No, I'm not angry. Yes, I am not happy.

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