Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Price Is Right

The 4th of 10 Kochajkis, Michael “DynoMike” Kochajki spent the first few of his 36 years in Los Angeles, where he somehow picked up a Boston accent. He's always been one to stand out in a crowd. Recently, out of an audience of five hundred, famous television personality Drew Carrey picked DynoMike to be the next contestant on the Price is Right. Though the show has changed a little since the days of Bob Barker, it is essentially the same. Big breasted gown wearing ladies still wave their hands in front of $19 automatic wine bottle openers and contestants still have to guess what the price is. It was very very exciting. Here was another opportunity for DynoMike to judge what was fair.

He appears at 18:58 in the show, which is conveniently online.

For the past thirteen years, Michael Kochajki’s head has protruded through the small window in between the grill and the store. Every summer, the Tuolumne Meadows Postmaster hands out packages to passing hikers, often staying open on weekends, holidays and after hours to deliver resupplies for Pacific Crest Trail hikers (The real deal hikers who “smell like shit and are gracious”)- and the shorter John Muir Trail hikers (The guys who “pack the kitchen sink”).

The Post Office Window

For half of Kochajki’s term as post-master, park visitation was down in the northern section of Yosemite National Park. The economic recession led many people towards stay-cations. Instead of traveling, people stayed at home. A 2010 Ken Burns documentaries on the national parks prompted thousands of people to head to Yosemite. Suddenly, Yosemite was a weekend choice for local Californians and a great place for people looking to save money. “The numbers are way up, there’s a huge impact on Tuolumne,” a long time supporter of the park environment, Kochajki voiced his concerns about a potential problem in the park. “Tuolumne isn’t set up for high level volume. There’s parking problems. They need to put a limit on visitation,” Kochajki said about the “Kens Burns Affect”. “It’s like inviting ants to a picnic.” Overrunning the park with visitors wasn’t fair to the park.

Dyno Mike helping a customer- probably his mom

One of Kochajki’s greatest fears is that the overall quality of park visitors diminishes with quantity. “We don’t want the Meadows turning into Santa Cruz,” Kochajki said about all the dirtbags who have shown up in the Meadows. “People think they’re Vietnam Vets.” Hundreds of climbers pass through the parking lot and the post office during the season. Many of them are the kinds of dirtbags that the postmaster detests. “They need to go to Bank of America and open a SAVE IT account,” said Kochajki.

Mike in the post office with his disco ball

Not all climbers hate Kochajki though. Many have a strong admiration for the guy. “We loved what you did with the shit box,” A pair of old climbers told Kochajki a few years ago.

Earlier that same summer, a ranger rode into the employee housing zone behind the Tuolumne Meadows store while a number of employees were eating breakfast. It was a cereal party. Everyone had different kinds of cereal- Lucky Charms, Granola, Raisin Bran. There was whole milk, almond milk and soy milk. It was a good time.

Then the ranger’s horse stopped right next to where everyone was eating. The horse took a massive shit next to the table. The locals were not happy.

“You’re gonna clean that up right?” Kochajki said to the ranger. The ranger muttered a response about a shovel and next time.

Tuolumne Meadows Store, Post Office and Grill

“Just like the shit, I was fuming,” said Kochajki. The rangers, known as the Green Gestapo for their green uniforms, had callous regard for all park users. They often acted without regard for their environment or the people around them. Kochajki and his fellow employees thought about what to do. They noted that government property should be returned and DynoMike was the guy who delivered packages. Kochajki took a box from the post office, scooped the poop into it and brought it to the ranger station. He knocked on the door, waited and then left when no one answered. As he pulled away, a ranger came out and stepped in the box. They were ankle deep in horse shit. The office ranger identified Kochajki’s car. An officer known locally as ODP “Officer Dumpy Pants” was waiting for him when he returned to the employee area. ODP wrote Kochajki a ticket for terrorist threats against the National Park Service. Kochajki was the Unabomber, a man who left dangerous unmarked packages on government property.

DynoMike the Terrorist

Kochajki brought the matter to the original ranger, the one with the pooping horse. Kochajki told the officer there was no malicious intent in returning the package. It was simply a matter of karma. Additionally, lawyers would be involved and the officer would be held accountable. There were a number of employee witnesses. “Listen,” Kochajki said, “your name will be dragged through the shit.” The incident was expunged from his record.

The old climbers thanked Kochajki profusely. The relationship between climbers and rangers has always been a tense one with climbers often getting the short end of the stick. Since that summer, Kochajki has become a bit of a hero. DynoMike was the guy who shanked the bully.

Dynomike trying to hear his friend's shouting the right price on the Price is Right

On the Price is Right, DynoMike guessed the price of a 3g smart phone with a one year contract as $2000 dollars. The next lady guessed $750. The next guy guessed $1250. A dick headed army private guessed $1251, eliminating the guy before him. The actual retail price was $1930. The rules state that the prize goes to the person who guesses the closest without going over. DynoMike overshot the price by $70 and lost to the army private who was $680 under. I am not sure if that rule is really fair but life isn’t really fair. People get screwed all the time. The Tuolumne employees got screwed by the ranger and his negligent horse care. The park environment is getting screwed by the excess number of visitors. Unfairness is a sad sad thing. Luckily, there is still justice in life. When people give you shit, you can put it in a box and drop it on their doorstep.

Great Success!

1 comment:

Squiddo said...

Great story man, had me laughing