LIaDVp.17: Peace is a four-tour day… Fisticuffs on the outskirts of the park

September 2, 2004

Today was fucking freezing in the ticket shack. Temperatures have been very low on the lake. We bundled up with jackets and Crater Lake throw blankets. We barely sold any tickets and cancelled the 4 p.m. tour. Just a few days ago it was 80 or so degrees. I was out on the dock and Dana, Tim, Roger, Cara and I spent the afternoon lounging on the dock. We had a four-tour day, so there were two-hour breaks between tours, and not a tourist in sight. We all sprawled around the dock, feet in the water, some of us trying to sleep. What a beautiful way to spend a work day. Later I sat in the rescue boat, read and took a catnap.

That same day I took a boat tour. Hung out up front with Tim and Cara, joking around. We had some spare time, so Tim brought the boat right up close to the base of the crater wall at Chasky Bay, where two waterfalls trickle into blue-green water in a scene you’d think was in Hawaii. Then we took the boat right up to a small cave in the side of the Caldera volcano rock. What a beautiful way to spend a work day.

Today after work, Tim and I drove into Klamath Falls to get some Vietnamese food. I know, how perfect is it that after hearing of Tim’s war stories, I’d go eat Vietnamese with him. He was the most normal, kind, regular guy the entire way. We had a calm political discussion during dinner. He was polite to the Vietnamese servers. He talked freely about his thoughts on war, calling it nothing but failed diplomacy.

I asked casually about his service in Vietnam. Turns out he never even set foot on the country. He volunteered with the Navy to avoid getting drafted into the shit. His time in the war was spent on an aircraft carrier working his ass off, repairing equipment, picking up pilots and passengers who may have been shot down. But he’s never actually been to Vietnam.

I have no way to align this impression of Tim that I’ve learned from spending time with him, and this monster that Stan and Dru describe. It’s like we’re talking about two people. I can’t say that Stan is flat out lying, but I also can’t guarantee that Tim is being completely up front with me. But after having dinner with this guy, who is thinking about getting a part-time job at Home Depot for fun, who thinks what the U.S. did to the Japanese in WWII is a war crime, who had to stop twice on the drive home because some Chiloquin Mexican food gave him the shits, I can’t accept the opinion that Stan and Dru have of him. (Aside: It occurs to me now that Stan and Dru are in their late 30s, Tim is in his late 50s, and I am in my late 20s. The middle-aged couple could be significantly more cynical about the generation directly above them than I would be. Just a thought.)

September 3, 2004

Rabbit woke me up at 3:30 a.m. this morning.

“Tate, I need to talk to you. It’s important.”

“It’s important?”

“Yeah, it’s important.”

I won’t try to recreate the conversation, but he essentially said that he went to Jessie’s place at the campground just outside the park late in the night to party. He and Stan got into a scuffle over Rabbit’s car keys. It ended with Stan punching Rabbit in the face and Rabbit driving off. He said he called Troy, the second in command for the park and manager on call, and told him that Stan punched him in the face. Troy told Rabbit that since the campground is company property, Stan would be fired.

Rabbit was a mess. He was clearly shook up from being in a fight, and he also felt horrible about calling Troy. “I don’t handle situations like this very well Tate. Man I hope Stan doesn’t get fired. I didn’t want him to get fired.” I pretty much heard him out, told him he ought to tell Troy that tomorrow, and should get some sleep.

From the accounts I’ve heard so far, it sounds like Rabbit was shitfaced (he told me he wasn’t drinking but I know otherwise) crashed at midnight, woke up at about 2 a.m. and decided to go to the campground to see if anyone was around. The party at Jess’s was winding down, but Stan and Dru were there, and Stan was pretty drunk as well. How drunk Rabbit was is unclear, but chances are it was very. Rabbit said Stan wanted him to stay and drink, so he started wrestling him to the ground. Dru said Rabbit was way too drunk to be driving, and that he was in rare form, saying offensive sexual things (my inner eyes rolled when I heard this after our discussion the other night. Fucking hippies.) and Stan wanted to get his keys away for his safety. They wrestled for a while, when Dru and others pulled them apart. Rabbit said a while passed and then Stan walked up to him and punched him in the eye. Hard and a good shot, he said.

By the time I got to the Dining Room after work, it was already all over the place. Rumor had it that Stan got fired. I talked to Dru briefly. She was pretty much in the dark over the administrative stuff. I came home and Rabbit was lying in bed with a growing shiner. Yeah, it was a good shot. Rabbit pretty much gave the same story I heard last night, but a little more sympathetic to Stan, saying he was just trying to help him. But it sounds so far like he really did get suckerpunched. Rabbit said he didn’t fight back at all, which I believe, because he’s the security guard for one and can’t fight, and because it would contradict too wildly from others’ accounts.

I don’t really want to hear from Stan yet. I can’t get over the fact that he punched him with a closed fist. They’re friends, and no matter what Rabbit did or said, punching him in the face is out of boundaries. They both were called into management’s office and given a few written actions. Nobody was fired. Rabbit can’t be security anymore. I have a hunch that Stan is off boats. This goddamned place is making people mad.

(Note: later today, I’ve found out that Rabbit did in fact punch Stan when they were wrestling, and that all other witness accounts say he was pretty blitzed. Rabbit’s account differred from all the other ones, which Rabbit suggested may be because he was more sober than all the other people there. I think that’s pretty funny. (Note note: By the end of the season I will have heard about 6 or 7 different accounts of this fight and still am unsure of exactly what happened. Blame is impossible to assign and irrelevant. More interesting is that it happened at all, and nobody can really describe it. Campfire light and massive amounts of alcohol late at night.))

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