It was the Memorial Day holiday and my first weekend back at the parking lot. I was happy to be back on the mountain.
A Jeep pulled in, and I approached it. The window rolled down, and I got a whiff of what smelled like weed to me. Instead of playing it cool, like I usually do, I said, It smells gooood in here!
The young people crowded into the Jeep remained noncommittal. They weren’t looking for the trail or our parking lot, but had pulled in to ask directions to some other place.
Instead of letting the weed thing drop, I pressed the issue. I can’t remember what I said, but I actually used the word weed (or maybe pot). I wanted them to know I was hip and cool and with it. I wanted them to know that I may be a middle-age lady, but I know marijuana when I smell it. I’m not sure why it seemed so important to me that they knew that I knew, but in the moment it was.
As I talked to them, my tongue went slack and my words were slipping around loosely. I took that as a sign of a contact high.
A couple of the people in the Jeep said they didn’t have any weed. I said, Oooookkkaaaay, as they drove off to wherever they were going.
I turned to my co-worker and said, I know they had weed in there!
He said, So what?! We’re in California. I love to see young people smoking dope.
I explained I didn’t care if they’d been smoking weed, I just wanted them to admit it.
Then I realized (as so often is the case), I should have kept my big mouth shut.
#1 It wasn’t my business if they were smoking weed.
#2 Recognizing the smell of marijuana does not make me hip or cool or with it. Thinking I’m hip (or cool or with it) because I know what marijuana smells like actually makes me pathetic.
#3 If they weren’t smoking weed, I probably came across as really weird.
#4 If they had been smoking weed, I possibly make them paranoid. Here’s this woman in a uniform asking them if they’d been smoking (a still federally illegal) substance. I imagined them driving away, muttering at each other, She knows. Everybody knows.
I totally should have kept my big mouth shut.
But if the people in the Jeep hadn’t been smoking weed, what did I smell?
#1 Maybe the Jeep was a diesel? I once (foolishly) lived in close proximity to marijuana of a diesel variety (sour, I think). For a long time, the smell of it was seared into my memory, and whenever I smelled a diesel engine, I thought of that weed. Whenever that happened, it was more of a dirty exhaust smell with marijuana undertones. The smell in the parking lot was different because a) I didn’t smell it until the window went down and b) it didn’t smell dirty at all.
#2 Maybe I was having an olfactory hallucination? I’ve noticed a couple times this season I’ve thought I’ve smelled weed when I was in a place where such a thing was impossible, like alone in a campground restroom.
I think those people had been smoking weed and didn’t want to tell me. Fair enough. Admit to nothing is a good guideline when engaged in illicit activity.
I’m going to work harder on keeping my mouth shut.