There are hundreds and thousands of people who make most of their memories via the recreational vehicle, or box camper. In my 40-some-odd years, I couldn’t be counted among those folks … until now.
Some background info
Little more than a week ago, I was minding my own business watching NCIS reruns when the phone rang. I was offered a position that I have long coveted in one of the few areas of the southeastern U.S. in which I truly want to live. Fortunately, my employers were kind enough to let me out of a contract to seek greener pastures. But, we’d just wrapped up a kitchen overhaul and a $30,000 ‘man cave’ addition to our Chestnut Lane home. Oh well.
So, my bride bought a 32-foot RV — sight unseen — in a faraway town somewhere near Ft. Worth and told me I’d be living in it until she could sell our house and join me to find some permanent digs. Keep in mind that the only truck we own might pull a large boat. Thankfully, a very good friend of ours hauled this massive piece of aluminum back to my home (we owe him big time, though he’ll refuse). Someone else was nice enough to pull it to the Texas coast for us. And now here, in a bedroom the size of my closet, I reside.
My new and unexpected life
If you know me, you realize that my first charge was to scope out the nearby grocery stores, pizza parlors and Tex-Mex joints. I’m off to a good start in all three areas. Plus, I already know of a couple of Chinese restaurants and gas stations to avoid. I still need to find a place that offers a decent haircut, as well as someone who understands that light starch means light starch. But in the mean time, I’ve discovered that there’s a ‘gentleman’s’ club at the end of my street, with an adult ‘novelty’ store directly to its north. How convenient that they also have rear parking, so as to assist the ‘gentlemen’ patrons from being spotted.
Though the job is everything it was cracked up to be, and fresh seafood markets and craft beer stores abound, my greatest pleasure thus far has come from the most unexpected of places.
‘Hey man, just drop that in my truck. I’m headed there,’ the stranger told me as I walked toward the Dumpster in my RV park.
‘Ah, thanks,’ I responded ‘but I need the exercise.’
As I approached the large receptacle, he had already backed his truck and was tossing away scraps of lumber. I carried only a couple of small trash bags from my RV and a folded pizza box.
‘Hey, thanks for that,’ I said as I approached. ‘I just need my exercise. I’m Adam,’ I announced, as I extended my hand.
‘Nice to meet you,’ he responded.
Then the conversation began between a man wearing a ‘wife-beater,’ mirrored shades and a beige do-rag, and a guy with parted hair, designer glasses and $50 flip-flops.
‘Man, you might like this area, but I like working in the small towns,’ he said. ‘These big city folks just don’t have no damn sense.’
We talked a little about his Louisiana hometown and the fact that he worked the lignite mines for several years near my old homestead. When the conversation was over, he let me know that if I ever need anything to let him know. And he was sincere.
A few minutes prior I met the next-door neighbor. He sports a decal on his truck that reads ‘Came for the cash … I’m oilfield trash.’
‘Hi, I’m Adam,’ I said as he exited his truck with a loaf of white bread and a dirty laptop computer. ‘I see that you’re from Mississippi … where Mr. D. serves the world’s best fried chicken.’
‘Howdy,’ he responded, ‘I’m Jason and you would have to mention fried chicken.’
As it turns out, my neighbor was in the hospital for the previous few days with gallbladder issues.
‘I love me some fried chicken,’ he told me, ‘but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let some sumbitch doctor cut on me. I have to get rid of that stuff from my diet. That, and mashed taters and gravy … and all the stuff that’s worth living for.’
Jason went on to tell me that he never locks his door (even when he’s gone for days at a time) and to help myself to anything he has. Another neighbor has already promised me a lesson in making real barbacoa and tamales, and then there was the lady who moved our laundry and fed the machine her own money — refusing to accept repayment.
As I log onto the Internet at 5 each morning and read several news sources, I see all kinds of evidence that the human spirit has gone awry. But not here.
I expected to arrive and be a stranger to all of these travelers. But, lucky for me, they’ll not have anything of the sort. Sure, I will eventually move into a subdivision where people will glance out their windows and avoid the new family with the Prius’s and mixed breed dogs. Those same people will wave and throw a plastic smile as they pass by my home in their SUVs. With all of that, I predict that I’ll still somehow be extremely happy that I’ve traded aluminum siding for brick and mortar.
And I’m not sure why.
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