Another Story of No Money


Early Saturday morning (before eight o’clock) a car pulled into the campground. I was cleaning a fire ring, so I walked over to talk to the people in the car, two young men, just out of their teens (maybe). I asked if they were looking for a spot to camp, and they said they were.

I only had one campsite rented, two brothers on a bucket list trip who’d rolled in the previous evening. The first brother was driving a newer, red Corvette. He balked when I told him the fee for camping was $22. He thought that was too much to pay for a campsite. He asked if there were an AARP discount, and made a face when I said no. I asked if he had a Golden Age pass. He did and was happy when I said it would get him a campsite for half price. He was less happy soon aftter when I had to break it to him that there would be a $7 extra car fee for the 1936 International his brother (who wanted to share the campsite) was driving.

Hey! I understand wanting to save a buck. I live to save a buck. But it’s a little difficult for me to feel sorry for an old white guy driving a red Corvette on a bucket list trip. If he wants people to have sympathy for his financial situation, he should probably leave his Corvette at home. And if he doesn’t want to pay a $7 extra car fee, maybe he and his brother should ride in the same car!

But I digress.

I told the young men I had plenty of room for them, the cost of a site was $22, and the campground had no water, no showers. The guy who’d been driving asked if we took cards. I said no, only cash and checks. Then he asked if there were any stores nearby. I told him about the one fifteen miles away, but said I thought it didn’t open until nine o’clock, and I didn’t think it had an ATM. I also said I didn’t know if they could get cash back with a purchase.

The guy who’d been driving said he had a card, but only $4 in cash. The other guy said he had no cash. I told them they could have a site for $4, and they got really excited. The driver hadn’t been camping in years, he said, and the othe rguy had never been camping. The driver wanted to know if they could have a fire (yes, in a fire ring with no sticks sticking out, no flames higher than their knees), and the other guy wanted to know about bears (none sited since I’d been there, no food in the tent, keep food in the car, don’t a fight a bear for food).

I went back a little later with the paperwork, and the guy gave me his $4 in cash. The other guy said softly, I wish I had something to give you, what could I give you… I had a strong feeling he was contemplating giving me weed.

Did I think he wanted to give me weed because we were in California and he was a young man? Maybe. But I felt a vibe, and sometimes I just know these things.

I’m glad he didn’t actually offer me weed. It would have been awkward when I turned him down. I haven’t touched the stuff in almost two years, and I wouldn’t want to have it in the van while I’m doing this job. There wouldn’t be a point in having it. I’m not going to smoke it. (I hate feeling paranoid. I hate coughing. I hate feeling stupid.) In other circles, I’d know who to give it to, but here? No idea.

Perhaps my uniform protected me from an awkward gift. When one wears long hippie skirts and sells hemp jewelry by the side of the road, people make certain assumptions about one’s habits. When one wears brown, polyester-blend pants and a polo shirt bearing the company logo, the assumptions people make are totally different.

About Blaize Sun

My name is Blaize Sun. Maybe that's the name my family gave me; maybe it's not. In any case, that's the name I'm using here and now. I've been a rubber tramp for nearly a decade.I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. For most of my years on the road, my primary residence was my van. For almost half of the time I was a van dweller, I was going it alone. Now I have a little travel trailer parked in a small RV park in a small desert town. I also have a minivan to travel in. When it gets too hot for me in my desert, I get in my minivan and move up in elevation to find cooler temperatures or I house sit in town in a place with air conditioning I was a work camper in a remote National Forest recreation area on a mountain for four seasons. I was a camp host and parking lot attendant for two seasons and wrote a book about my experiences called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During the last two seasons as a work camper on that mountain, I was a clerk in a campground store. I'm also a house and pet sitter, and I pick up odd jobs when I can. I'm primarily a writer, but I also create beautiful little collages; hand make hemp jewelry and warm, colorful winter hats; and use my creative and artistic skills to decorate my life and brighten the lives of others. My goal (for my writing and my life) is to be real. I don't like fake, and I don't want to share fake. I want to share my authentic thoughts and feelings. I want to give others space and permission to share their authentic selves. Sometimes I think the best way to support others is to leave them alone and allow them to be. I am more than just a rubber tramp artist. I'm fat. I'm funny. I'm flawed. I try to be kind. I'm often grouchy. I am awed by the stars in the dark desert night. I hope my writing moves people. If my writing makes someone laugh or cry or feel angry or happy or troubled or comforted, I have done my job. If my writing makes someone think and question and try a little harder, I've done my job. If my writing opens a door for someone, changes a life, I have done my job well. I hope you enjoy my blog posts, my word and pictures, the work I've done to express myself in a way others will understand. I hope you appreciate the time and energy I put into each post. I hope you will click the like button each time you like what you have read. I hope you will share posts with the people in your life. I hope you'll leave a comment and share your authentic self with me and this blog's other readers. Thank you for reading.  A writer without readers is very sad indeed.

4 Responses »

  1. Hmmm. I need to leave a comment on this blog post but I’m not sure I have the words yet. I’ll do some more thinking about it and get back to you…

    — Lois

    • I guess I really just have a question:

      I know I’m not the person who is camp-hosting and I’m not the person who is there on-site, making decisions based on the information at hand. So I’m just wondering: Why would you give a free (or almost free campsite) to some young people who, according to your “strong feeling,” would have enough money to buy pot (at, what, $400+ an ounce or so?) but you wouldn’t want to do the same for some old guys who are out doing their “bucket list”? Maybe those old guys are spending every last dollar of their retirement funds to fulfill their last few things to do before they die – retirement funds that may have gone belly-up in that crazy economic down-turn we had a few years ago where lots and lots of old people lost everything they had in their retirement funds because of some dumb politicians (ok, that might be an oversimplification of why it happened but the fact remains – many oldsters lost their retirements in that economic upheaval). What if the only thing he had left was a Corvette sitting in the driveway and that was his only transportation to go camping?

      I’m just wondering out-loud. I’m not making any judgements, just being an inquiring mind 😀

      • Lois, if the old guy had told me he only had $4 cash, I would have rented him the campsite to him for that amount. The young guys just didn’t have cash on them to pay the full amount for the campsite. If there had been a place to get cash, I truly believe they would have. And just because people have some pot (which I have no real evidence that the young guys had) doesn’t mean they’d just laid down $400 for it. (They could have grown it or gotten it cheap from a friend or it could have been cheap Mexi-weed or someone could have given it to them or they could have had just bought a small, less expensive amount.) I just think if one wants to come across as financially insecure, driving a Corvette is not the way to do it. Also, the Corvette man was happy to pay the $11 for the campsite, but was pissy about the $7 extra car fee for his brother’s car. I think if they were really trying to save money (gas, extra car fees, tolls, whatever else cars need), they would have both piled into that Corvette.

        Anyway, that’s my thinking. As someone who is going to have to work until the day I die (and as the daughter of people in their late 60s who are still working and will probably also work until the day they die if they don’t end up with some lingering end of life illness), I can’t say I think much about retirement funds and what it might mean to lose one.

        But for real, if the old guy had told me he only had $4 on him, he could have had the spot and the extra car too.

  2. Thanks for answering my question, Blaize. You’ve given me a whole new perspective on the assumptions that camp hosts are allowed to make in the course of their jobs. I appreciate your honesty.

I'd love to know what you think. Please leave a comment.