Student News Site of Pacific Collegiate School

The PCS Roar

Student News Site of Pacific Collegiate School

The PCS Roar

Student News Site of Pacific Collegiate School

The PCS Roar

Ms. Job & Dr. Ruckle’s Burning Man Experience

Ms. Job & Dr. Ruckle went to this year’s Burning Man, here’s what they have to say about it!

Ms. Job said that she “liked being challenged and out of [her] comfort zone…  it’s not all about partying a lot, it’s about spirituality… It’s about letting go and the human experience– I was surprised by how open minded it made me want to be.” This was her first year going, but she definitely wants to return in the future. Dr. Ruckle, meanwhile, is a Burning Man veteran. He “first attended in 1996…  before there were basically any rules.” For the past 13 years he has been working for GATE, and describes himself as “the vice principal of Burning Man,” patrolling the event’s fence. During the evenings, when he’s off the job, he enjoys using Burning Man as a “space for uninterrupted quality time with friends,” some of whom he only sees once a year. 

Neither’s trip was too impacted by the storm, although Dr. Ruckle’s job was altered by the muddy roads, with him spending his time keeping track of how many people fled.


Ms. Job

Q: Did you enjoy going to it?

J: [I] thought it was real neat. I liked being challenged and out of my comfort zone because much of the event was focused on radical self-reliance

Q: What does radical self-reliance  mean? 

J: For me that means, prior to the trip, I prepared for anything and everything happening in the desert. Everyone at Burning Man is expected to take care of themselves fully. 

Q: Were you there during the natural disaster?

J: I arrived the day before the storm, so the experience was a lot less dusty than a normal experience at Burning Man. I wish I had rain boots instead of goggles, lots of people were struggling with the unexpected downpour.

Q: How did you get out? 

J: I waited for the radio to tell me when it was safe to leave because people were not allowed to leave until it was dry enough, and I knew what time of day the radio would tell us. 

Q: Will you return next year?

J: Um, it’s strange– I want to say I will. As uncomfortable and weird as it was, I think going back with a group of friends would be really fun because if I already kind of enjoyed going alone, it can only be better. I think I will go back. I hope it doesn’t rain again– I want to have a dusty Burning Man like everyone talks about!

Q: Any last comments?

J: Be open to Burning Man– it’s not all about partying a lot, it’s about spirituality, there’s a temple there. It’s about letting go and the human experience… I was surprised by how open minded it made me want to be.


Dr. Ruckle

Q: How long have you been going?

R: I first attended Burning Man in 1996, before there was a fence, before there were any principals or basically any rules and there was no law enforcement, it was pretty much the wild west. I did not go back until 2002, and I’ve been every year since.

Q: Were there any specific parts that you enjoyed this year, or was it just the Burning Man environment?

R: What I like about it is, I have a lot of friends that I see once per year, and the very fact that we are out in this other place where we don’t have jobs or other distractions means that there’s often space for uninterrupted quality time with friends, so that’s the part I like the most. Now, I have friends that both have been going, like me, for many many years, and I’ve been working there for 13 years, and so I have pals that I work with there as well

Q: To expand on that work, what do you do in that role?

R: So, I work for a department called GATE, and while they don’t like to think of themselves as security, basically they’re the people that take your ticket when you come in, they search your  vehicle when you come in, you aren’t supposed to have pets or guns or stowaways. So my job is kinda like a security guard, I guess I’d say, but my particular role is, I patrol the outside of the fence, in a subdivision called perimeter. I’ve been promoted… I jokingly say that I’m the vice principal of Burning Man, because I make sure that people don’t go off campus when they’re not supposed to, and that bad people don’t come onto campus.


~Dean Friend interlude~

Q: What do you think about Burning Man?

F: An idealistic undertaking corrupted by capitalism

Q: Is it ethical?

F:Hmmm…. Yes.

~Dean Friend interlude over~


Q: How was your work impacted by the storm?

R:Um… so, we couldn’t do our normal operation of driving around, cuz we’d get stuck in the mud, so we just had to go to the road and hang out. Some people, not me, got trapped out for a couple days. My job was to wait until it was drying up, not fully but still muddy, and to count the people that were fleeing the event, and I’d never seen that before.

Q: How long were you at the event?

R: So I work there 12 shifts in 2 weeks, so I was there for about 2 weeks, mostly working. And mostly working, I work from 5 am to 1 pm

Q: Pretty brutal…

R:It’s the morning shift, yeah,  it’s more like my teaching shift than a graveyard shift or a swing shift, but I was getting up at like, dark  to go to work.

Q: So, your work was affected by the natural disaster, but you wouldn’t say your trip more broadly was

R: I would say, for a lot of people oddly enough, now there were challenges. In my experience, it did not reach catastrophic levels, it was worse in people’s imagination than it was in practice…for a lot of people it’s making connections with people, and friendships, and adventure, so having something unusual happen was more like old school Burning Man.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributors
Jamie C. Pham
Jamie C. Pham, Staff Reporter
I am Jamie C. Pham (she/her), and I am a sophomore at PCS. I enjoy writing, drawing, reading, and gaming in my free time. I joined Journalism because, as said before, I am generally interested in writing.   

Comments (0)

All The PCS Roar Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *