A few years back, I got into a black Escalade with a group of strangers.
At the time, I was working at Dinosaur National Monument straddling the Utah-Colorado state line, standing at the front desk looking out the window on the other side of the Visitor Center admiring pronghorns.
There’s an odd mix of experience watching wildlife in an alfa field while the Green River runs through your field of vision. The untamed life, with the untamed for that stretch of the Green River but signs of civilization be it the farm house and deer blinds across the river or the feeling of air conditioning against my scalp.
It was then that the black Escalade pulled in. A man got out and introduced himself as being part of the entourage that was with the president of Zambia, who just finished with official business in Salt Lake City. He was wondering if someone could show him around the monument.
Being an eager public servant, I agreed, thinking that there was a story to be gained out of the experience. And into the caravan of Escalades, I headed to the dinosaur quarry with the president of Zambia.
The quarry building contains the remains of over a 100 individual dinosaurs mostly of the long necked “sauropod” taxa. They were a inquisitive group asking about how so many dinosaurs ended up together. As I pointed out a femer that was probably gnawed on for a bit after the animals death.
The fantasy was images of living the Indiana Jones life, in remote lands looking at remains of lost worlds. Which felt partly the case in that moment.
However, looking back, I also realized how much of an American I was — and not in a good way. Because getting into the vehicle, I had no idea who the president of Zambia was. Is it hubrism or that information needs relevancy?
The real story gained from my memory is to take your studies at Pima Community College seriously, because you never know when you’ll need some fact you should have picked up along the way.