A man tried to give me a kid one morning at the overflow parking lot.
I don’t mean he used a bad pickup line on me like, Hey, baby, let’s make a baby. I mean he offered me one of his already born offspring.
He was only joking, I know, and it’s not the first time it happened. (Once a lady in a pickup offered me her friend’s dog in exchange for the parking fee, then the friend offered me the first lady’s infant.) It’s always an awkward situation for me because I usually don’t know what to say.
On the morning in question, the family pulled into the overflow lot at the campground before I made it to the main parking lot. I showed them where to park and told them about the $5 access fee. While I wrote out the pass, the whole family tumbled from the vehicle—mom, dad, and four wholesome-looking blond kids. Soon the parents were having a Do you have cash? No. Don’t you have cash? conversation.
Mom had her wallet but there was no cash in it. Dad had cash in his wallet but had left it back where they were staying. (I hope they were staying in a cabin or a lodge or at a friend’s house. I hope Dad hadn’t left a wallet full of money in a tent somewhere.)
Gee, he was really sorry, Dad said. It looked like they didn’t have any cash, but I was welcome to take one of the kids instead.
I looked over at a big boulder where the four kids were lined up, grinning. Apparently this was a joke Dad used often. Apparently none of the kids were yet old enough to find the joke corny or annoying.
This time I came up with an answer rather quickly.
I really can’t take one, I said. I live in a van with a man and a dog, and there’s really no room for a kid. Don’t worry about the access fee. Just go enjoy the trail.
I was gathering up my belongings for my walk to the main parking lot when the dad called out to me, My daughter has $5. We really want to pay.
I would have been happy to let them go, but I put down all my stuff and walked over to the SUV where the oldest girl was fishing out a $5 bill. I handed her the pass and wished them all a good day.
I took this photo of a giant sequoia.