I wrote about this experience at the 2017 RTR but never publislhed it because I really wasn’t as nice as I should have been. I’ve decided to share it anyway. We can all probably learn some lessons from the story.
The 2017 Rubber Tramp Rendezvous (RTR) was crowded. There were substantially more people there than in either 2015 or 2016. I guess that’s what happens when a free event is promoted far and wide on social media.
I’d joined Auntie M’s camp across the road from the free pile. In the three days I’d been there, Auntie M had become frustrated by the crowds and the sense of entitlement displayed by some of the RTR participants. She managed to find a spot on the far outskirts of the gathering and moved out there. My friend Gee had arrived from the Midwest and spent one night across the road from us, then moved into the spot Auntie M vacated. I was waiting for a third friend to arrive, so Gee and I staked out a space between my rig and hers with folding tables and camp chairs.
It was Thursday night, and as usual, I’d gone to bed early. I was in a deep sleep when the headlights shining through my back windows woke me. Someone had gone around the barriers and pulled into my camp on the side of Gee and me fatherest from the road. I wasn’t expecting anyone I knew to arrive that late. No one had texted me to say she was on her way; no one had texted me to say she had arrived. When I peeked out my back window, I saw the vehicle that had pulled into my camp was a large pickup with a slide-in camper on the back. I didn’t know anyone who drove that sort of rig.
I should have gotten out of bed, put on some clothes, and gone out to speak to the stranger who’d so boldly moved right into my camp. I should have told the interloper the truck was parked too close, and we were saving room for another rig. I should have stood up for myself. However, I’m Southern, and I hate conflict, and it was dark and chilly outside, so I fumed for a while, then went back to sleep.
I was up early the next morning. Gee was on her way out on a day trip, so I stretched the tables and chairs to save the spot she’d left temporarily empty.
While I was out there, I determined how the interloper had gotten in. She drove on the narrow path between our closest neighbor and Gee’s small cargo trailer. The trailer, Gee’s van, and my rig were parked parallel to the road. The driver of the pickup had come around from the back and parked on the thin strip of level ground to our left. No considerate person would have put themselves so close to us or tried to start another row of rigs on our far side.
My third friend had arrived in Quartzsite the pervious afternoon, found Auntie M’s camp, and spent the night there. She and Auntie walked into the main camp for the morning seminar. When they saw how close the interloper had parked to me and Gee, they were outraged on our behalf.
I was still undecided about what to do.
I know there is no exclusive use of public land. I could tell the driver of the truck s/he ws too close, but the BLM wouldn’t back me up on that. If I suggested the interloper move and s/he refused, I might have a pissed off, vindictive person in my camp. Perhaps it was better to say nothing and just try to get along.
It was late morning before the interloper emerged from the rig. I was talking to my friend Iggy when the woman and her tiny chihuahua came outside. She plopped down into her camp chair and tried to insinuate herself into our conversation. I was livid. I might have felt differently had she introduced herself, explained her situation, maybe apologized for being way too close. However, she did none of those things. She just acted as if it were perfectly natural to move in on strangers without so much as a howdy-do.
I replied to her attempts at conversation coldly. I discreetly (or maybe not so discreetly…I didn’t much care) moved father away from her. I was most unhappy with the situation.
While Iggy and I talked, the interloper’s dog barked and strained on its leash to meet another dog. She brought the chihuahua to meet the other dog, and as they parted ways, the chihuahua defecated just outside my camp. When the chihuahua was done, it and its person went back to the truck. I assumed she would get a plastic bag and clean up the mess, but instead she plopped back down in her chair.
I turned to her and asked, Are you going to clean that up? I figured someone was bound to step in the shit if it sat there very long.
The woman sputtered about needing to get a plastic bag, then got out of her chair, found a bag, and cleaned up the mess. I suspect she hadn’t planned on picking up after her dog.
I went back to my conversation with Iggy until we saw folks walking up to the free pile with armloads of items to give away. We decided to walk over and examine the new offerings.
Lady Nell was at the free pile, so I was chatting with her while finding a few more useful free items. I glanced across the street at my camp and saw the interloper had a visitor. Then I realized the interloper’s gentleman caller was sitting a chair I’d earlier salvaged from the free pile and promised to a friend. The nerve!
I told Lady Nell what was going one, and she and others around the free pile agreed it wasn’t ok. Both Lady Nell and woman I’d never seen before asked if I needed backup, but I said I thought I could handle it ok.
I marched across the stree and right up to the man. Excuse me, I said coldly to the gentleman caller. That’s my chair.
To his credit, he jumped right up and apologized for offending me. I snatched the chair, folded it up, and brought it to my van. The interloper and her gentleman caller then went over to Gee’s chairs which were holding space for her rig and had a conversation about whether or not he should sit in one of those. Apparently they decided not, so they walked over to the neighboring camp and sat in the chairs there. (I found out later the interloper was friendly with the neighbor.)
Honestly, I if I had been standing there and the guy had asked to borrow the chair, I would have said yes. However, walking into a stranger’s camp and making use of someone’s gear without permission is simply unacceptable.
I sat in my van with the side doors open most of the rest of the afternoon fuming and texting with Auntie M who was even madder about the whole thing than I was. Around three o’clock, one of Gee’s friends came by, and I had a pleasant conversation with him. While we were talking, the interloper maneuvered her truck out of our camp and took off on the road out of the gathering.
When Gee’s friend and his cute dog strolled off to resume their evening constitutional, I approached the guy in the camp next door. I’d seen him talking to the interloper after her gentleman caller left.
Is that lady gone for good? I asked the neighbor
She had orignally been parked on the other side of him, he told me. When she’d come back from town the night before, she’d been disoriented (is that what kids these days are calling it?) and accidentally pulled into my cap. She must have been quite disoriented becaues my camp looked nothing like where she’d been parked before and there was no way to accidentally pull in where she’d put her truck.
I told him she’d been too close to me and Gee, then her gentleman caller had used my chair without my permission.
Yeah, the guy said, she told me you’d read her the riot act.
Oh dear! She thought that was the riot act? That was the wimpiest riot act ever! I didn’t even ask her to move or complain about her being too close. I only asked her if she planned to clean up her dog’s poop and reclaimed my own chair.
I suppose I should have been more direct in a kind way, but sometimes I’m just at a loss.
The sense of entitlement is showing more and more in our nomad community. While the nomad culture is predominately a giving culture, a minority are behaving very badly. There are consequences and they aren’t good. I see “the powers that be” starting to close us out. I also wonder if the bad actors have any idea how to behave well. My very recent experience is they don’t. Love to all, Auntie M
I’m interested to hear about your “very recent experience” Auntie M!
I understand when people are new to any community and don’t know exactly how to behave well in it, but too often folks don’t want to learn or adhere to community standards. It’s fine not to want to do what others in a community do, but I think not wanting to adhere to community standards means that community is not the right one for the person who doesn’t want to adhere.
Of course, people deal with mental illness and substance abuse issues, making life difficult for them. I get it. The quandary is how to support and welcome those folks without getting our wants and needs ignored.
I am with you on this one. Seesh people just don’t have common sense or manners these days!
Thanks for reading and commenting, MLK.
I read your story and found it quite upsetting. Not surprised. Out in the “real world” , this type of behavior is on the rise. I thought it may be me, getting older, and believe me, I am no saint. But common courtesy & sense are no longer very common. I just bought my rig, a van, took my maiden voyage this week-end. It was a disaster. Unfortunetly, I was camped next to a homeless family, with 3 babies, all underdressed , and fed, although the parents looked like they had not missed a meal , as they stared at their cell phones. The little ones crawled into my van and banged on my cat cage. The parents did nothing but cuss at them from afar. I did not want to fuss,again Southern, and did not want to see the babies, cussed at more or worse. I retreated to the Van at 6pm. Made no dinner, no bathroom(!) fire etc. Break of day, I gave them all my food and left. Thankfully, I was an hour from home. So much for the Romance of the Road. I knew it would not be easy, and I was not prepared, but I didnt last ONE HOUR!!! (I got there at 4pm) . I am no stranger to the plight of those less fortunate, I was a nurse at the Health Dept. But that one experience, has caused me to reevaluate my plan to even short term camp. It was very disturbing.
Sorry your maiden voyage was a bust, Susie. Were you in a campground? Boondocking might be a better choice, if possible, because #1 you probably wouldn’t have been so close to the family and #2 you could have moved at the first sign of weirdness. Too often, campgrounds have campers right in each other’s laps. On the rare occasions I’m in campgrounds, I try to find the site that lets me be as far away from other campers as possible.
I personally, would never. ever, ever let the child of strangers in my rig. I’d have to know a family very well before I allowed a child into my van. There are too many liability issues.
It does sound like you had a very disturbing experience, and I’m sorry about that. I hope you can find a way to enjoy the road that doesn’t involve unattended kids.
In 2017 boundaries were not respected.
I moved away from where I was because of it.
Sorry to hear you had to move in 2017. Did you feel people were more respectful at the 2018 RTR, despite the crowds?