The boss got here today.  Well, one of them.  We have a hierarchy:
Chamberlain is in charge of all three students, but Hooker is kind of in charge of the rest of us, since he has a decade of bear work under his belt.  Technically, Chamberlain is my boss since I’m a technician, but in reality, I’m working for and with the three students. 
All of that to say, boss Hooker got here today.  He’ll be sleeping in the living room of my check station while Casey and I share a bedroom.  He’s a self-professed grump, which has been evidenced already by the complaints leveled against…well…everything. 
And boss Casey just pulled up.  She’s a goof, throwing humor back in our grumpy old man’s face, singing about her baby tomatoes that are growing outside.
The comebacks are whizzing over my head with a ferocity and hilarity that I wasn’t quite expecting.  If things remain this sharp-tongued all summer, we’ll come back in much need of whetstones for our wit.  I look forward to that.  I’ll keep a running tally of the most interesting comments made: between Eeyore Hooker, Goofy Casey, Cajun Josh, and Puckish me, I’m sure there won’t be a shortage.
At the least, we’ve established a “you don’t touch mine, I won’t touch yours” rule regarding coffee mugs.  Order is in place.  
Day one of living with two other people was…surprisingly chill.  Except I was the last one up at 7:05am.  And that was after I’d stayed in bed a good ten, fifteen minutes.  I woke up before dawn to the smell of coffee (Hooker’s), which was very pleasant and would have drawn me into the kitchen if it had been dawn—and if my bed hadn’t been so warm.  As it was, I tossed for a while then finally gave up when I heard Casey and Mike talking.  
I think it’s safe to say I will continue my front-porch-breakfasts, but the breakfasts will just have to happen two hours before they have been happening.  I’ll get used to it: this is outside-work life.  You have to be up before dawn, so when day breaks you can begin your work.  I’m okay with that—I have to be okay with that.  That is the life I have chosen and love.  
Last night began—and today continued—Hooker’s continual of “what’s the first rule?”  It’s reminiscent of fight club (oops, just broke the first rule) with the sheer number (and silliness of some) of rules there are. 
First rule: all rules are the first rule
Second rule: all rules are the most important rule
First rule (?? We already have a first rule?): don’t touch it, you’ll break it
First rule of bear trapping: don’t invite a bear to the back of a trap
First rule of bear trapping (again, there is already a first rule??): if you set a trap, you better be prepared to deal with what you catch
The list goes on, with number varying from 3 to 63.  I’ll keep you abreast of the most interesting ones, but mostly you’ll just hear the ones mentioned above. 
Weird.  But funny.  I’ll get him yet: stump him on which first rule he’s actually asking me about by giving him the actual first rules he’s been telling me about incessantly. 
Day two of the full crew being here and I feel a little out of place.  I know it’s only day two, and the last time the three stooges—I mean students—were together, there was a different tech.  I hear a lot of Ryan stories, and I occasionally get compared to him.  This is normal, so I’m not hurt or put out by it, but I’m ready for the habits to set in and to become the tech, not the newtech.
First rule of roadkill surveys: be careful. 
The drivers on highway 96 are nuts all of the time, but they hate it when you drive under the speed limit and pull over at every dead thing.  
I suppose I should explain what a roadkill survey is.  First, you put an orange caution light on your truck, a neon vest on your person, and drive around 42mph up and down highway 96 (from I-16 to the intersection with highway 247) looking for roadkill.  You see something, you pull over, you get out without getting hit, you go up to the roadkill and ask it a bunch of questions while you fill out this survey.
Hah. Sort of.  You identify it, guesstimate time of death, and move it off the road.  This is part of the DOT project: they are trying to expand 96 to be a 4 lane divided highway, but they want to know if and/or how that will affect wildlife (particularly bears).  The roadkill surveys are really just an index of who, what and where.  Anyways, that is one of my duties for the summer.  Let me tell you how excited I am…But hey, it’s a job, and for that I am thankful.
Here’s one of my own rules:
First rule of hair snare work: get permission, lock combinations, keys, and test that they work before trying to set up the hair snares.
Josh and I walked a mile (total) to set up one hair snare today because the lock was not openable.  This is not Josh’s fault, he did the correct rigamarole, just the only key to that gate is currently in North Georgia.  Oops.  We also walked pretty far to some other sites, but that is not for lack of permission, it’s lack of driveable roads.  Whew. 
On a lighter, much happier note: today was the last day of turkey season, which means that tomorrow morning the WMA gates close and we have the refuges to ourselves!  I think everyone will breathe a little easier knowing that our front yard won’t be frequented by randos (“yahoos,” as Hooker calls them).  I’m very excited.  I’ll get to leave my hammock up without fear of it getting stolen, we can leave the trucks and doors unlocked, and we will turn off the porch lights, which will let us sleep better and keep the bugs off our porch.  So. Excited. 
5-16—worth a blog of its own…see next post!
I felt the shift last night.  It was practically imperceptible, but I felt it. 
Maybe it’s because it was Friday night, which is theoretically the start of the weekend (we don’t actually have weekends during trapping season…I’m writing this at 0830, and I’ve been awake since 0700).  Maybe it’s because I was painting.  Maybe it’s because Hooker woke us up yesterday morning singing “Tomorrow,” from Annie.  Maybe it’s because we all just decided to relax around each other.  Maybe it’s because we were listening to Ella Fitzgerald, whose silky voice soothes the soul.  The list of maybe’s continues.  Regardless of the reason, I’m okay with it.
I am the tech now.  Not the new tech.  And I like it.

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