Today was my last day of work for the Miami-Dade County Park & Recreation Department. I started with them as a Park Ranger 2 months before hurricane Andrew hit us and so much has changed since then. Our department used to have a sense of family about it. Everybody knew, or at least knew of, everyone else despite being a very large department. I worked at Black Point Park & Marina for 12 years. Our boss there would do fish fries for us on the weekends - fresh dolphin and kingfish that he caught... sometimes we would hang out at the bar downstairs on Fridays after work. We all knew each other and it really felt like family. We knew each others kids, where we all lived. If one of us was sick, the others would call to check on them.
But then things began to change in our department. People got yanked from their jobs and sent to different places with no warnings...budget cuts began and people got pink slips. The sense of family began to crumble. I left Black Point and worked at a couple other parks before ending up at Camp Owaissa Bauer shortly after Aidan was born.
I always thought it would be a great place to work: a protected piece of vanishing hardwood hammocks and rock pineland that still had some wildlife. But I soon learned that not all is as it seemed. The manager, who I had known since 1992, but had never worked for, was not as nice of a person as I had always thought. I was used to a boss who encouraged people to strive for better jobs, encouraged and appreciated initiative, who trusted his staff and didn't need nor want to micromanage, and whom you could talk to completely honestly without fear of repercussions. My boss at Camp OB was just the opposite. You couldn't take a crap there without asking permission first...and then she would tell you how many pieces of toilet paper you could use to wipe with.
Ok, well...maybe not quite that bad, but close. She micromanages BIG time, though. And does not encourage initiative. She leaves lists and lists of things for people to do. "Projects" she calls them. It's insulting. Adults who know their jobs and are quite capable of doing them being given daily lists, spied on and more. I've wanted to quit for a few years now and finally my day has come! Don't get me wrong. I'm happy to have had a job for that long, one with medical insurance and paid leave, too. But I pretty much hated every minute of the past 8 years.
I'm happy to be rid of that place and a department that is going down the drain, but I will miss some of the people. Just some. Friends that I thought were real friends turned out to not be, and that's the way life is. I'm not surprised, but a little hurt. The people I will miss the most are the guys I worked with everyday. We helped each other get through so many issues with good laughs and bad jokes. I have told them I still expect weekly pictures and at least one video a month! (Yes, to kill the boredom of some of their tasks, they sometimes video each other singing and dancing - badly - but always too funny).
So after almost 20 years - No plaque. No goodbye party. No official farewell from our director. Nothing. The boss did take us all out for lunch yesterday, which was very nice. But that was it. So, you know what Miami-Dade County Park & Recreation Department? Oh, excuse me...Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department... It's been real and it's been nice, but it hasn't been real nice. There were some really fun times, to be sure, but a lot of BS also.
So now it's over and I have a new job waiting for me in Pennsylvania with a boss I know and love.