This year, for Ann’s birthday, we decided to have a camping party. Ann very much wanted to invite 20 of her closest friends and have them all come camping with us. Because I am sane, I told her NO WAY. But I did tell her she could invite 15 of her closest friends to come spend some time with us at a campsite during the day. So the idea for Ann’s camping party was born.
We immediately made reservations at Cedar Hill State Park. When the day came, Sir D got up early and went down to the park to pick out the campsites that would best suite our purpose, i.e., near the playground where there is room to run and 15 screaming girls would not be out of the ordinary.
That evening we were to meet D and R at the park to let the camping weekend begin. Lo and behold, when we get there we are told that not only do we not have any reserved sites, but we don’t even have any reservations at all. WHAT?
In the interest of keeping this a novella and not a complete novel, let’s just say that Sir D spoke to them and a solution was found. They put us in a part of the park that was closed for the off season. We got a complete section of the park to ourselves. Bliss. Screaming girls will disturb no one now!
Friday rolls around and the party begins. We picked up all the girls at the house and ferried them all into the park. We had egg toss, egg relay races, egg sprints, murder in the dark, assassin, capture the flag, sardines (sorry parents for the chigger bites. It was not my idea to hide in the creek bed!), decorate your own cupcakes, and I don’t even remember what else. We did not, however, roast marshmallows as I decided 15 girls wielding long sticks with hot melting marshmallow on one end, over an open flame, seemed a bad idea.
When the party was over and everyone was sufficiently sugared up, we hopped in the car to go back up to the entrance to the park for the girls to meet their parents. We waited on the ‘exit’ side of the parking lot. There were already a few parents there waiting and they told me that the park was not making them pay to come into the parking lot to pick up their kids. I was happy to hear this because I didn’t really want to walk all the kids up to the entrance because it was dark up there, and frankly, I was tired! So we waited for the parents to come.
The parking lot is just about empty. The only people coming and going at this point were the parents picking up their children. I would say it was a quiet night, but there were 15 sugared up pre teen girls there so quiet is not the right adjective.
Once most of the kids were gone, I notice Robin and Tara driving up. I waved at them and they made their way in to where we are. Without thinking of the severe consequences that awaited them, they drove 20 feet the wrong way, into the ‘out’ side of the parking lot. They had not even parked their cars before lights were flashing. The Park Ranger/Warden Guy was waiting. We shall heretofore call him…Mr. Sir (Thank you David for the Holes reference!)
Mr. Sir walked up to Robin’s car and demanded ‘license and registration’. He then made his way to Tara’s car. Tara had gotten out of her car at this point. Mr. Sir walked up to her and said, in a rather unkind tone, “What kind of crazy driving is that? Do you even know how to drive? Are you even old enough to drive?”
Tara stood there, eyes wide, shocked. She was waiting for him to laugh and indicate he was joking. He did not laugh. Tara did not respond. She simply handed him her license. He then told her in the same tone to, “Get back in your car.”
Mr. Sir went to his truck, lights still flashing like this is some kind of drug bust, and began to run their information.
Sir D walked up to the open window of the truck to see if he could help out. He talked to Mr. Sir in kind even tones asking him if he was really going to ticket these ladies. He explained that they were there only to pick up their children that had been at his daughter’s birthday party.
Mr. Sir said they had violated traffic laws. Sir D agreed but pointed out that it was a PARKING LOT and it was empty save their own children. Mr. Sir said that laws were laws and there were consequences for breaking them. Dave agreed but suggested there was also a place for grace when mistakes were made. Dave also mentioned that these two ladies did not have State park passes and perhaps he was putting his park in a bad light. Maybe this was not the impression he wanted to leave of his park on these ladies. Mr. Sir asked if Dave was threatening him. Mr. Sir apparently did not appreciate Sir D's input and told him to go back to his car.
We waited around long enough to see Mr. Sir get out of his truck, walk up to Tara’s car and gruffly tell her to ‘come with me!’ Once Mr. Sir had both Robin and Tara standing on front of Robin’s car Sir D decided we’d better leave. He was concerned that Mr. Sir would write them a ticket just to spite Sir D if we were standing there watching.
Once Sir D and I left, Robin and Tara were left alone in a dark and empty parking lot with Mr. Sir and his silent sidekick. Mr. Sir stood there in front of Robin’s car and harangued the two ladies for several minutes about traffic laws and obedience, and driving skills or lack thereof. Then, he made these ladies walk a good 30 yards away from, and out of sight of their cars holding their young children, to the entrance of the park. He pointed at the ‘Do Not Enter’ sign and asked them if they could read it. When they responded in the affirmative, he made them both read it out loud to him. The then harangued and harassed them some more, all the while their children are sitting unattended in a dark parking lot wondering what happened to their mothers who were taken away by an angry, gun tottin’ Game Warden.
Before he would tell them where their fate rests concerning the $500 ticket, he first demanded to know who ‘that man’ was who threatened him. Once he found that information out, he told Robin and Tara he would write them a warning. They would not have to pay, or show up in any court, but it would go on their record. The then told them that if they wadded it up and threw it on the ground he’d ticket them for littering. Because we know how homeschooling mom’s are prone to littering.
For the rest of our stay at Cedar Hill State park, the warden and/or his sidekick drove by our campsite often. They told us to move cars out of other campsites parking spaces nearby, even though we’d paid to have the extra cars enter the park and that entire side of the park WAS CLOSED except for us! We were told that we had not paid for the last night of our stay, and that we had 30 minutes to get out or pay up. We had been told no less than 3 times when we checked in that we were paid in full. To put it bluntly, the State Park staff harassed us because Dave stood up for Tara and Robin.
This man, Mr. Sir, was on a power trip the likes of which I’ve only seen on sitcoms. Dave was able to ascertain his full name and badge #. He also was able to get his supervisors name and that of his supervisor’s supervisor.
The man was a bully, plain and simple, but he picked the wrong guy to try to intimidate. The way Robin and Tara were treated, and requiring them to leave their children unattended for at least 15 minutes in a dark empty parking lot, is simply unacceptable. Not mention the way he spoke to them! Dave felt certain that if he could have recorded the way Mr. Sir spoke to Tara and Robin, Mr. Sir would be out of a job. Sadly, Sir D does not yet have and iphone.
As the great Lord Acton said, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
I think this may be the case with Mr. Sir, but worry not campers. Mr. Sir’s days as a bully are numbered.
He picked on the wrong guy!