Campgrounds have surprisingly intimate stories
A weight lifter (“Yeah, I used to carry cars, pull trains. I bench pressed 850.”), Rudy had sole custody of his autistic son for many years. Then Rudy was hit by a car. Many operations. Two years later his autistic son decides to get his own place. Rudy crams everything into a open jeep and hits the road for the first time. One very cold morning he brought me coffee and a pork chop. We whined about the wind, laughed and traded stories over the two weeks we were neighbors.
This young man was sitting out in front of Walmart, trying to sell the snake that almost bit him. He told me each step and each fear and each sound. He had no knife, so he skinned the snake with a broken piece of glass. He was surprised Walmart didn’t want to buy it. He wanted $200. I wished him luck.
She has a husband and teenage son. She travels to renaissance fairs to sell henna and art. She has a flippak camper (that leaks) on a rusty truck that she loves. She showed off her newest purchase which bakes, grills and fries. She made a great dinner to share. She cooks for large groups at the fairs. I was the wind block as she whipped up pasta.
Some people just start talking
- A tiny woman with very white Doris Day hair came by with two tiny adopted dogs. She found the old one (“The vet says she has 6 months or less.”) tied up on the railing to the steps of the Mississippi library. “And no one would take the dog after ten days at the animal shelter, so I took her. And I’ll never go back to Mississippi again if they are like that.”
- A movie-star-looking fella told me way too much about his divorced wife and his level of resentment at his payments. He lives in a travel trailer that looked very ratty. I was feeling sorry for him until I noticed the very fancy solar system and extreme security and brand new big truck.
- A man spent 40 minutes telling me, in detail, why he should never have bought his new Kimbery Kar trailer. He knew the original owners of the company in Australia in 1972, Bruce and Ted, and they were trustworthy, but the new group was not.
- A woman told me the story of how she ran from an abusive home at 14 with her boyfriend. They headed to Los Angeles from Tennessee by bus. At the LA bus station the boyfriend said “Wait here. I’ll be right back.” He never returned. She was a hooker for four years, then got out of that, became a stripper while she went back to school. She became a technical writer for Woods Hole for the last 20 years. She was traveling the states looking for a new home to buy.
- “So if I owe the government $144,000 in back taxes they better give me a job. I’ve been a welder for 40 years. I have a bachelor of science and a masters in information technology and no one will hire me.” He leaned back onto the table and kept talking. “I’ve been married and divorced twice and I stay away from all of that anymore. I bought this tent for $149 instead of buying drugs or alcohol.” He shifted around to face me. “You know what my mother always said – ‘Be respectful to the judge. Respect the judgement. You can always get it overturned later.'” I couldn’t get him to end the conversation and had to flat out walk away.
- “What do you like to read?” I would ask people who said they loved to read. “Cotton Mather and the Puritans,”, she said. Her husband was into historical pamphlets.
The stories keep coming, (“Yes, I worked for Boeing for forty years. They have warehouses as long as two football fields. They gave me a cart to move around. I can fix anything. You need anything fixed?”)