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Aramark and the Undoing of the National Park System

It's been a century since the National Park System was created. Oh, that it would last 1000 years, but between climate change, bureaucracy and the Industrial Management System that has been placed in care of these parks, I think the end is near.

That is not to say the animals, land and environment won't somehow make it through, but the system that is in place to manage those parks, is all but completely broken.

I speak as a former employee of Aramark who has lived and worked at Lake Powell for the last few years, and most recently lived and worked at Lake Quinault. To be clear, Lake Quinault Lodge is not part of the national park system, but rather sits adjacent to the Olympic National Park on National Forest land and is wholly owned by Aramark. 

Since the early days of the pandemic, I called Aramark home and was baptized by fire by their mismanagement, malfeasance and outright misogyny. It was just last week, that we finally parted ways officially with Aramark, after my wife was promised a job as an operations manager at Lake Quinault Lodge and was systematically denied the position because of one Paul Thornton, a divisional manager for Aramark who is running the lodges of the Olympic Peninsula into the ground.

It seems her three years managing Bullfrog Boat Rentals on Lake Powell and her six months filling the role as an unpaid operations manager at Lake Quinault, were not satisfactory enough for Mr. Thornton. He stated that he wanted a larger applicant pool and would wait for the new general manager to be installed before filling the operations manager role. He proved disingenuous, however, when he started interviewing male ops candidates before the new GM was even interviewed.

It is safe to say that my wife was royally screwed by Araramark, but that is not why I believe the National Park System is in peril. I, too, was screwed over by a manager at Aramark who black balled me at Bullfrog because he ran the place like a concubine camp for his homosexual conquests. If you didn't sleep with the man, you were not on the inside, and in my time there, virtually every employee of Bullfrog Executive Services quit under his watch.

Indeed, it is this blatant middle mismanagement and the blind eye that the upper management seems to have for the fact that good people run from Aramark and mediocre people rise up through the ranks, and it is a big part of why I think this system will fail.

There is a distinct lack of talent at the middle management level at Aramark and while I have no personal knowledge of the other two monoliths in charge of running the National Parks, I am told it is the same everywhere. (See

They pay nothing, they trap you in dead end jobs, they abuse the hell out of employees and otherwise provide absolutely mediocre services. This is a direct symptom of failed middle management.

Oh, sure the upper managers hand down high ideal policies to the middle managers in charge of places like Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, and Olympic National Park, but it is the implementation of these polices by the district and regional managers that is so far off the mark. They fail at so many levels because the system that is in place regarding the management of The National Park System is a kakistocracy or "a government by the least suitable or competent citizens of a state."

The only way middle managers are promoted at Aramark, and I am pretty sure it's the same at Xanterra and Delaware North, or the new guys ExplorUS, or is who ever is left behind when all the good people quit, gets promoted.

UPDATE: I finished up a stint at Crater Lake last summer and just learned that the NPS has yanked the contract from the hands of Aramark for blatant and continued mismanagement. I ran a tour boat in the storied lake and my boss was a total hack who had no idea how to run a department at Aramark, let alone a boating program. Thankfully, I was rescued by a real job and am no longer dependent on the seasonal slave trade for my living. But when it's all said and done, it is amazing that finally someone has woken up to the fact that Aramark is a shit-show.

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