To read the first part of the story of my Fourth of July experiences, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/07/15/the-fourth-of-july/.
After thinking on site #4, I knew the only option I really had was to drive to the other campground and get the refund form from the other host. I wasn’t happy about that idea for several reasons.
#1 I was exhausted and didn’t want to drive again that day.
#2 I was exhausted and hungry and wanted to eat dinner and go to bed.
#3 I was exhausted and I didn’t want the other camp host to hold me hostage and talk my ear off (figuratively speaking on both counts).
#4 It was late in the evening, and I didn’t want to drive back to my campground in the dark.
#5 The rest of the party had arrived on site #9, and if I left, I’d have two cars to contend with when I returned and had to back my van into my campsite in front of God and everyone.
But I did my duty and drove down to the other campground.
The other host did not have the form I needed.
She dug through folders and boxes and bags, but didn’t find the form. She had what I had, a single page photocopy of the form with the sections to be filled out by someone other than the camp host crossed out. She decided what I needed to do was fill out both forms with the same information and have the camper write the reason for seeking the refund on the back of both sheets.
I took the page she had and drove back to my campground. It wasn’t dark yet, and for that I was grateful.
When I got to my campsite, I began maneuvering the van so I could back into my site. I could have pulled in nose first, but then I would have had to back out in the morning or—Heaven forbid—in the middle of the night if there had been an emergency.
There’s a stump on one edge of my campsite, and I didn’t want to hit it. I’m well aware that the stump is there, as I maneuver next to it several times a week. I knew I was close to it, but suddenly one guy from site #9 was on the side of my van “directing” me (and making sure I didn’t hit his car, I suppose), and the Eastern Block (or German or Russian or whatever) authoritarian was standing between my van and the water tank, waving his arms around. I was not amused.
However, when I got out of the van, I thanked them.
Before I could walk away, the authoritarian asswipe gestured at my van and said with contempt dripping from his words, What is this? A bus?
I wanted to kick him in his nuts and tell him to go fuck his mother, but instead I said very calmly, This is my home. Then I walked away.
Before I ate dinner, I went back to site #4 and completed the request for refund paperwork.
As I cooked my dinner, the children from site #9 crossed into and out of the meadow at the back of my site. I hate it when people cross my site—it’s so rude!—but since we all own the forest, I have no right to expect people to polite and take ten extra steps.
It was dark and late by the time I finished cleaning up from dinner. I was entirely exhausted by that time, but still had to listen to the children camped next to my site squeal and shriek and generally make noise until we all passed out.
I was up around 6am on the 4th, cleaning the restrooms and making sure nothing terrible had happened in the night. (I found no evidence of terribleness.)
I arrived at the parking lot at 9am, as instructed. I don’t remember anything noteworthy happening. The day is a blur in my memory–a lot of people and a lot of cars with nothing and no one standing out.
I did ask my supervisor about the folks on site #6 who were given a discount on a card the company I work for doesn’t honor. She told me I was going to have to ask them to pay the balance. She said anybody could enter any numbers and get a discount, so if people get a discount they don’t qualify for, I have to ask them to pay the difference.
So I did it. I explained the situation and asked them to pay the $22 they hadn’t been charged. And they very nicely paid the money. While I wrote the permit for the additional payment, I regaled them with stories of working at the parking lot. They laughed in all the right places, and I wished I could hang out with them for the rest of the evening.
There was one sad event of note on Sunday morning before I left for the parking lot. I heard the sounds of angry voices and some kind of scuffle coming from site #9. I looked up to see the authoritarian asswipe smacking the older boy on his head and upper body. The boy tried to run away, and the man chased him, grabbed him, and smacked him a few more times. Neither of them was speaking English, so I don’t know what words were passing between them. I don’t know if either of them knew I’d seen what happened.
I didn’t know what to do. I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to yell at the asswipe and beat him with a stick. But I knew that would get me fired and probably thrown in jail, and it wouldn’t have helped the kid at all. I didn’t know how to intervene in a way that would have diffused the situation. It’s not like the asswipe and I had some sort of rapport. Even if I had been able to speak calmly, I don’t know what I would have said. I worried that if I intervened, the man would just take it out on the kid later. I wondered if I should say something directly to the kid, but what? You dad is a mean idiot, but you won’t be little forever. Would that have been helpful in any way?
I didn’t know what to do, and I haven’t had any good ideas in the ensuing days. I’m haunted by the whole experience, and I think I really failed that kid.
The weekend did end on a (literal and figurative) sweet note. As I was about to pull out of my campsite and head to the parking lot, the two gay Australian guys walked up and offered me their leftover pink and white marshmallows. They told me thy had a “lovely” time, told me I’d been just “lovely.” They said they hoped to come back to the campground next summer, and they hoped they’d see me again.
If the 4th of July is the midpoint of summer, my time on the mountain is half over.
You didn’t fail that kid; his dad did. I often think about telling the kids next door, “When you grow up, you get to chose how to live your life. You get to chose how you treat the people you live with, how you treat the people you love the most. My partner and I both came from mess up homes, but we chose to be different. We chose to be happy and to treat our child with love and respect. You could do that too. You don’t have to repeat this life for someone else.” I like what you thought about telling that kid…you won’t be little forever.
Thanks for the input, Midge. I do wish I had been able to say something to the kid or give him a rock or some other little gift of encouragement. I will try to be better prepared if I see something like this happen again.
And yes, it’s his dad who is failing him, and his mom too.
I hope he makes it out of childhood ok.
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