What happens on a typical shift?

Black Rock Rangers Forums Alphas What happens on a typical shift?

This topic contains 6 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  riffraff 1 year, 6 months ago.

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    SF Bay Area

    What happens on a typical shift? Hard to say since most shifts vary each time and each presents a unique experience. However, let’s see what one shift may look like.

    Before You Start

    Before you get all raring to go on your first shift, you’ll need to get yourself and your gear ready before you head over to Head Quarters (HQ). This means being well rested, sober, fed, and carrying everything you’ll need to pull a six hour shift in the dirt (including a snack!).

    Typically you’ll want to arrive at HQ fifteen minutes before your shift starts. This isn’t “playa time”, we really want you promptly there a quarter hour before your shift. This will give you time to sign in at the office window, get your shift radio, socialize with other Rangers, and find a partner for the day. If it’s your very first shift, it’s better to get there earlier, as you’ll need to get your a laminate and fill out the radio check out form (bring your credit card!). Essentially it’s great if you’re there on the early side, as those tired Rangers who are in the field are ready to end their shift and want their replacements.

    In a bit, the Cruise Director will assign you a partner (if you don’t have one) and where your assignment will be. So far, this is a fairly standard beginning to a shift. It’s what happens next that may vary.

    Your First Shift

    You and your partner may be assigned to a section of the city. Perhaps it’s to walk the city between 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock streets. Maybe you’ll be positioned out at the Stick (our affectionate name for the Man). Perhaps you may be needed to assist out at the Gate. Much of where you’ll be is determined by if you’re bike mobile or a dirt walker, the number of people on duty, the time of day, and your experience and/or desire.

    Sometimes a whole shift may be uneventful, where you just answer questions and assist participants. A quiet shift and radio isn’t a bad thing.

    The scenarios that you had during training are real situations from various typical shifts. Perhaps you’ll need to mediate a dispute between two or more people. Maybe some campmates are complaining about their noisy neighbors and want you to tell them to turn down the music. You may be asked to assist in setting up a burn perimeter or help in the lookout of a lost child. And maybe there will be a medical call…or four. It’s certainly possible that you may encounter all of these together, but each shift will be different.

    Khaki may change up your shift assignments depending on where you’ve been working, how busy the shift is, how many people are on duty. If you are running low on water or perhaps need to get an extra layer of clothing, ask Khaki, but understand if the request isn’t feasible at the moment.

    End of Shift

    Six hours can go by quickly, but don’t head back yet. Remember the choreographed circus you were part of when your shift started? That’s happening again over at HQ as new Rangers are ready to head out shortly. Hopefully they showed up early just like you did. Once those folks are ready and they’re headed out to relieve you on shift, Khaki will announce on the radio for you to head back to HQ.

    Once you’re back at HQ, sign out at the office window, return your radio, and don’t forget to ask for your meal pog.

    After the Shift

    Now what? This is a wonderful opportunity to decompress with your fellow Rangers after your shift. If the commissary is open, ask if any one wants to go grab a meal. Another option is to spend some time around the Ranger burn barrel and share stories from the previous shift. Optionally, head on over to the Ranger Outpost Tokyo (over in the 9 o’clock plaza) and spend some time at the 10-7 Lounge. Any of these options are a great way to get to know more of who the Rangers are. If you don’t know where any of these resources are, just ask your partner or any of the other Rangers.

    Perhaps your shift was a bit more mentally or emotionally exhausting than you had been expecting. Maybe you experienced something that has challenged you and you’re not settled from it. We’ve all been there. If you feel comfortable talking with your partner about your experiences and why it has left you feeling the way it did, please do so. If that isn’t a feasible option, you may also want to talk with one of our Green Dot Rangers. The important thing is to make sure that you’re okay and understand the resources available to you. Your fellow Rangers do care about your well being and want to make sure you’re doing all right.

    To saddle upon the above message, what you see, hear, and experience on your shift are not meant for stories for your campmates, friends, families, or reporters. Please don’t talk with others about specifics on what happened during your shift. These stories start to become rumors that may twist the facts that don’t align with the original event and may create problems later on. Your experiences are for you, so please don’t share beyond those that need to know.

    Thanks for becoming a Ranger and a valuable asset as a participating resident of Black Rock City!



    Also worth noting: a typical shift is 90% Doing NothingTM, 8% Listening, 1% Talking on the Radio, and 1% Other. The variety comes from the Other.



    I recall that my busiest time during one of my first shifts was sitting in the shade near Center Camp. Nothing rangerable had happened for the past four hours as we built social capital walking up and down in the dust of the streets of our city. I had met a ton of people, seen a ton of camps, had a great time…but hanging out in the shade relaxing…it all came to us. I answered more questions, helped people just sitting there. The seasoned Ranger I was with smiled and simply said…”see IT comes to you, you don’t have to go to IT…” I have been pondering how very very true that is for some time now.



    Shifts are generally time for you to practice being in the moment, holding a comfortable place for you to just be, whilst being costumed in a way to be recognizable as a resource.

    The rest is frantically getting things done so as to keep the good stuff away from Easy, who spends 90% of his time Doing Nothing :-)



    I resemble that remark.

    And… on a good shift, nothing happens.


    Delco Shocks

    The only thing that I can add here is, please don’t wait until your first shift to do your “I have arrived on playa check in” at HQ.  Shift change is a crazy busy time at the window.  After you have arrived on playa and made camp wander over to HQ (between shift changes) for some welcome back hugs and submit that paperwork (yes, we really do need to see your credit card).  We want to give you all of the ranger love and attention you deserve.


    Near Seattle

    Holy crap YES. There are few things that feel as good at BM as when your camp is built and you’ve just gotten your  lam and whatever and you know you are NOT going out on a shift that day or night.

    I feel plugged in but able to soak in and get a feel for the event without restrictions then. I always get over to HQ and get all that done way before I walk a shift. But of course, I tend to put my heavy hours in at the end of the event….

    Yes, bald-faced promotion for working shifts late in the week.

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