Vader’s Watch

by Ranger Vader

One of my favorite jobs in the dusty city is standing on the perimeter of large fires, mainly the Man burn. It can be both brutal and boring; you kneel for a sometimes inordinate amount of time, you don’t get to move much, and you have to be on high alert.

But I love it in part because I have a captive audience, and I engage with them. We are on our spot before the crowds show up, so as my section filters in, I spin my lightsaber for them, chat with them, ask about their burn, let them play with the lightsaber, etc. I ask them who’s there for their first time, and try to get to know them a little, do a little Q&A about Rangers if they have questions, even try to recruit people to the department.

Once I get 3-4 rows of people, I start in with my spiel about what I’m there to do, and I give them all Starburst candies (and collect the moop), and communicate my expectations / requests of them, that they sit down, be as emotive as possible while watching the fireworks and fire (because I don’t get to watch it so I want to experience it as it is reflected in their faces and responses), alert me if they need to get up so I know what they are doing, help me convince other people to sit down, and be my eyes and ears: if they see something odd happening, I want them to alert me. (I’ve never had this be necessary, luckily.)

All of this works really well. Most people love this. A lot of them don’t really know why we stand the perimeter, and Burners generally love gifts. The Startbursts are always a big hit. (I admit, I sometimes use them to “bribe” people to sit.) It thrills me when someone on my groups starts waving their arms and yelling , “Ranger Vader! Ranger Vader! I need to go to the portos! May I stand up?” or whatever else they need to communicate to me. (95% of it is “I need to go to the portos,” which may seem like micromanaging but it means they have taken me seriously about not just popping up, which is a good way to get a VERY bright flashlight shining in your face.)

So for years, I’ve wanted to make patches or at least stickers for them.

The 501st – the Storm Trooper cosplay charity – calls themselves Vader’s Fist. I thought it would be awesome to take a page from them and make patches for Vader’s Watch (the 447th – named after the highway we all take to BRC). I was finally going to do this this year because “Vader’s Watch 20/20” (with the pun on 20/20 vision) was just too perfect.

It’s the most First World Problem of First World Problems that there will be no Vader’s Watch 2020.

Just one of those little things that SARS-CoV-2 is taking away from us, in addition to all the big things.

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