I kinda felt like a superhero today. I didn't actually do anything, so I'm not sure why I felt that way. (Yesterday, I felt bad because I had to tell someone her dog couldn't be on the beach. Never in a million years would I want to do law enforcement. It breaks my heart to bear bad news.)
But today, I donned the uniform, becoming my alter ego, Ranger Vickie, and then I had the distinct privilege of taking an active part in three people's happiness.
I had no takers for my morning tour, so I stood near the museum entrance and greeted people who passed by, answered questions, and provided small talk (oddly, Ranger Vickie is good at small talk, the kryptonite of non-ranger me). As I was preparing to return to the office to continue work on a project, an older lady sat on the bench. I greeted her, and we talked. More accurately, she talked. She told me about her day, the long walk, the beach, disrespectful beachgoers, her home in Phoebus, how she likes the museum exhibits, her arthritis, everything she's read in the news... She talked. I listened. For 15 minutes, I was a set of ears under a campaign hat. So, I did nothing, but she was happy, I think. I left only after she went into the museum and I bid her a nice day.
I lost a good chunk of time after that trying to make friends with my work computer, which refuses to acknowledge me as its master. After an hour and a half, the IT specialist concluded that laptop has to make a trip to meet him in person (in Philly).
With only a short time left, I headed out for my beach patrol. I met a lady in the picnic area near the beach. She had some questions about picnicking. Then she pointed out two of the picnic tables badly broken and splintering and said something should be done about them. I agreed, wrote a reminder on the notepad I carry in my pocket, and took photos with my phone. I told her I would notify my supervisor and see that it's handled. As I walked on, I got on the Google Share drive and added the tables to the agenda for tomorrow's meeting. Again, I did essentially nothing at this encounter (something will get done about it, though), but I had the feeling that her visit was better because a ranger was there.
The final incident brightened my entire week and the details falling in place were somewhat unlikely. Continuing along the boardwalk, I saw a swimsuit-clad women searching through beach grasses. It seemed odd. Non-ranger me would mind her business, but Ranger Vickie asked if she was looking for something. She lost her car key. It had fallen off the keychain without her notice, likely when she arrived two hours ago. My heart sank. She seemed so lost and disheartened. She hadn't gone far from her car and had checked and rechecked every blade of grass, every grain of sand. My inner voice was feeling the loss, how hopeless, but Ranger Vickie said, "Another set of eyes might help. We'll retrace your steps together." I climbed over the barrier to the beach (my knee not at all complaining thanks to the hinged brace I bought). We looked together. I guess we probably both knew we wouldn't find it, but I figured in her place, I'd be happy someone cared.
While looking with her (and going past the time I planned to be out on the boardwalk), a man came over to talk to me. He was the assistant director of the YMCA (I hadn't noticed we were close to one of the buildings). He had a message to pass along to my boss, the superintendent, so I took the message down in my notebook. He then asked what we were doing and helped us look. He decided to check inside the building in case someone had found them and turned them in. A few minutes later, he returned, key fob in hand. Happiness and relief overcame the lady, and she gave me a hug. I had done nothing. But she was happy. I was happy. I had offered help when I knew it was useless, and I was glad for it. Even if it hadn't turned out as it did.
Today was a good day. Today, my uniform brought joy.