Hoping for the Parks & Rec job


By Gary Abernathy - gabernathy@civitasmedia.com



The City of Hillsboro is considering the creation of a Parks and Recreation district. I hope they do, because I’ll apply for the job of director so I can be just like my idol, Ron Swanson.

Ron Swanson was the director of the Parks and Recreation department of fictional Pawnee, Indiana, on the NBC show aptly named, “Parks and Recreation.” If I had a dime for every time someone told me that my attitudes and dietary habits remind them of Ron Swanson, well, I’d have a lot of dimes.

Ron Swanson was a reluctant and curmudgeonly government bureaucrat who had little patience for the people who typically populated his universe, mostly chronic complainers and overly-enthusiastic idealists.

One of my favorite scenes from the show, as I recall it, saw his intern, April, come into his office to give him a message.

April: “Ron, someone called for you.”

Ron: “Did you get their name?”

April: “No.”

Ron: “Did you get their number?”

April: “No.”

Ron: “Perfect.”

Quotes from Ron Swanson have become highly-valued pearls of wisdom, and they occupy countless websites.

Ron loves meat. Yes, meat. Meat is basically the only thing he ever eats, sometimes with a side of eggs or potatoes.

I identify completely. Often, when I order a hamburger for dinner, someone will say to me, “Didn’t you have a hamburger for lunch?” which leaves me not understanding their point.

One time, Ron went to a restaurant and said the following to the server: “Just give me all the bacon and eggs you have. Wait, wait. I’m worried what you just heard was, ‘Give me a lot of bacon and eggs.’ What I said was, ‘Give me all the bacon and eggs you have.’ Do you understand?”

Ron’s attitude about salads? “You have accidentally given me food that my food eats.” And when a dinner host asked if he wanted a salad, he replied, “Since I am not a rabbit, no I do not.”

Ron Swanson’s take on overly-emotional people: “Keep your tears in your eyes where they belong.”

My wife would like us to take a trip to Europe someday. I will, for her, but Ron Swanson’s attitude on the subject reflects my own. After being forced to go to London, Ron stood in front of Big Ben and smirked, “Look, a clock. We don’t have that in America.”

His lack of enthusiasm for foreign travel is explained by his appreciation for American excess, as in a scene where he pauses while consuming a 32-ounce soda to say, “Dammit, I love this country so much.”

Ron’s main co-worker is an excitable, government-loving idealist named Leslie Knope who worships feminist icons and is, on the surface, Ron Swanson’s polar opposite. She percolates with new ideas and comes up with endless ways for local government to make everyone’s lives better. Ron spends most of his time saying “no” to her latest brainstorms.

I’m not quite as completely anti-government as Ron Swanson, but I can appreciate his attitude in general.

Once, someone poked their head through Ron’s door and asked, “Am I interrupting anything important?” to which Ron replied, “Impossible. I work for the government.”

Ron Swanson’s take on a particularly unmotivated coworker: “I like Tom. He doesn’t do a lot of work around here. He shows zero initiative. He’s not a team player. He’s never wanted to go that extra mile. Tom is exactly what I’m looking for in a government employee.”

And on the very agency he works for: “I think that all government is a waste of taxpayer money. My dream is to have the park system privatized and run entirely for profit by corporations, like Chuck E. Cheese. They have an impeccable business model.”

One area, besides meat, where Ron Swanson’s attitude entirely mirrors my own is when it comes to government-sponsored healthy living initiatives.

Ron once observed, “The whole point of this country is if you want to eat garbage, balloon up to 600 pounds and die of a heart attack at 43, you can. You are free to do so. To me, that’s beautiful.”

There’s really not much of a chance that a Parks and Recreation district will be created here, because it would require a new tax levy, and no one’s voting for that.

But on the outside chance they do, I’m polishing up my resume. I’ve spent a lot of time studying how Ron Swanson ran the Parks and Recreation department of Pawnee, Indiana, and I’m ready to step right in. I’ll shut it down in a month.

Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.

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By Gary Abernathy

gabernathy@civitasmedia.com