“Author Unknown (Contribution by Marianne de Kock using her experience and some poetic license)”

The job often sucks.  Even for those of us who love it. We hold more lives in our hands on one average course than a medical doctor does in a day. All the elements of nature are often against us, but the training continues and we never give up!

We are responsible for knowing more rules that humanly possible.  Those rules are subject to daily change. We carry around in our heads the equivalent amount of data to the average metropolitan phone book.  We don’t have time to look anything up. We can’t make mistakes. We are fluent in three languages: English, Acronyms and Cursing. The latter to make ourselves heard by those who fail to hear. We speak all three simultaneously and loudly. We can’t imagine doing any other job.

We don’t get bathroom breaks when we need them.  We learn to hold it until we get a break. In the field when the slightest movement can expose one’s location, that break feels like it’s never going to come. We have a lack of tolerance for miscommunication. It could mean life or death in the field.

There is always something that needs to be done right now. We get grumpy when we don’t have enough learners to keep us busy.  We get grumpy when we have too many.

We know all the different variations of the word “stress”.  We don’t know what normal sleep patterns are. Given what we do, sleep aids are not an option.  We work daily, in the middle of the night, holidays, and weekends. Birthdays come and go, often away from home.  We never have “normal” days off and when we do, we are still on call. The term social life is non existent.

We are brutally, ridiculously, ruthlessly hard on each other.  There is no room for error. We have thick skin but we will be the first person there if a student really is in trouble or needs to talks to us.  We will hear the terror in his or her voice. We will calmly use every technique we have to keep them calm and where necessary, bring them back to safety.  We will go right back to work the next day and do it again. We aren’t allowed to cry. There is no room for failure. Success is a given. We don’t have time to pat ourselves or each other on the back.  We have a job to do!

If you’d like to become a field ranger, or get more information on the courses offered by the College, email: info@sawc.org.za