Report Card: A visit to the NPS Office

We’d like to welcome our first guest blogger, our friend and colleague, Marshall, to blog about his recent experience with our taxpayer-funded public employees.

“Experience Your America” proclaims the website of our National Parks Service. I love America, especially our beautiful outdoors. But I don’t think the America I experienced yesterday morning was quite what they had in mind…

I had to turn in some park permit forms and paid a visit to the National Parks Service office in Southwest DC. Here’s what I encountered.

NPS employee #1:  My first encounter was with a security guard at the office of Park Police. She peered icily through the glass doors as I approached her. “Can I help you?” she said, expressionless. Almost before I could finish asking if I had come to the right place for permits, she interrupted with a heavy, “No.” I waited for a moment. Finally she told me to go next door with a tone that told me she was scowling…on the inside.

Grade:  D-

NPS employee #2:  The guy at the “welcome” desk was cold, too. No smile…he sure could take a lesson from Wal-Mart greeters (but not the crazy ones). But at least he was efficient. As I was signing in he told me which room number to write down, and pointed me to a clock behind him for the time. Still, he could have told me the time.

Grade:  B-

NPS employee #3:  I really hope this lady has happier days. Muttering no more than a few words at a time, she waddled back and forth with my paperwork, disappearing to make copies (I suspect). When she was done, I was instructed to call back next week to see how my paperwork was coming along. But bonus points for having a moustache – apologies to Frida. Even after paying the $50 application fee, I’ll have to babysit to keep things moving. I’m looking forward to next Monday, when I call and they’ve lost my papers.

Grade:  D+

Facilities:  Dazed & confused. The signs in the parking lot were contradictory; in the same lane were signs reading “Visitor Parking” and “Employee Parking Only.” Inside, I felt like I had stepped back into the 70s. The color brown abounded, and walls were covered with cheesy motivational posters. There was one little plaque that celebrated 60 years of friendship with South Korea. (Let’s keep up the free trade). An industrial-strength floor fan helped keep things cool. And noisy.

Grade:  C-

Overall:  Let’s just say they wouldn’t say I wouldn’t voluntarily support them with my money if the government ceased to tax me.

Grade:  C-

I don’t think the problem is the employees. Ultimately, the problem is that the NPS, like all other government agencies (and a growing number of businesses in bed with the government), doesn’t have to respond to customers to survive.

Have a different take, or a juicy government agency experience to share? Drop a comment.

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2 Responses to Report Card: A visit to the NPS Office

  1. Pingback: Report Card: A visit to the DMV | Whiskey and Car Keys

  2. Marshall says:

    UPDATE: I called the NPS office back several times this week for a status update. I finally got through to the right person today (8 days later), and…wait for it…no progress. She hadn’t even looked at my permit application yet.

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