The Is-That-Person-Dangerous Game

Here’s an aspect of living on the road that people don’t talk much about. I’ve written previously about how weird it is to be always the stranger in a strange land, but today I’ve been thinking about what it’s like to be surrounded by strangers. Always trying to guess: Is this person walking by my home a gun-wielding, angry outcast, or is he going to offer me the best zucchini bread I’ve ever tasted? Seriously, these seem to be the choices here at Imperial Dam LTVA.

Talkers, Burners, Barkers

This morning I began my social rounds when Banjo and I stopped to talk about the sunrise with our neighbor, J. He’s the one who rides the motorcycle and explained to me in the laundromat what NOAA is. Good guy, just extremely free-flowing with the words, as he admitted at length to me this morning.

Per typical nomad style, we were standing outside his trailer; he was wearing slippers, me cowboy boots, and Banjo kept trying to sniff him in inappropriate places. He nevertheless surprised me, just as I was thinking his claim to being super observant was maybe all talk, with a compliment for my new earrings, which he described to a T plus why they suit me. Never mind that he thought my name is Stella. I vote him Not Dangerous (probably).

His stories were all about his dangerous neighbors, though. One had been burning plastics, and when J. confronted him about it, the burner guy was volatile, scary. And now that a new guy has moved in who leaves his dog tied up all morning when he drives off, and the dog howls and whines the whole time, J. is, let’s say, reluctant to approach this guy. And there are no camp hosts or park rangers doing rounds here, just volunteers riding their electric bikes wearing safety vests, counting the RVs (618 so far). They don’t want trouble. J. has decided to stay away from the Dangerous-or-Not-Game and keep to himself over there.

Need Help with Your Trash?

This afternoon I embarked on my routine, 2.5-mile round-trip walk with our trash to the dumpsters. I like the exercise, plus I like seeing all the campers and watching their progress on their projects and feeling like I have a neighborhood for this brief period. I’m also amused by how many guys stop to ask me if I need help with my trash.

Seriously, almost every time I walk to the dumpsters, some guy stops his truck, ATV, motorbike, whatever, and offers me a ride or offers to simply take my trash for me. Sweet, right?

Maybe. Most likely. Today I got stopped twice in the first mile. On my way back I passed a guy walking his trash, so I asked him, “Hey, do people stop and offer to help you with your trash?”

He replies, “Nope.” But then he asks,

Are they men?

Okay, yes, they’re men.

Well, there’s your answer.

We joke a bit about human nature, and as we start walking in opposite directions, he asks if I’ll take his trash for him. Ha! I like him. Not Dangerous (probably).

The guy in the little car, with an NRA sticker on one window and a huge chihuahua face sticker on the back window, stopped to offer me a ride to the dumpsters yesterday. The wind was high and his hearing isn’t good, so he stepped out of the car to better hear my rote explanation that I actually like walking to the dumpsters.

But then he got a call, and I couldn’t help overhearing him explaining that he’d be there to that person’s rig in just a few minutes with the parts they needed for whatever he was helping to fix. He hung up, asked me if I like zucchini bread, and sped off. When I got back to the tent, Tracy was sitting there with a half-loaf of the most moist, fruit-and-nut filed rich dark bread I’ve ever had. Not Dangerous (probably).

Community Yoga, Full-On

Don’t get me started on the yoga group, One couple shows up early with brooms to sweep the dust and gravel off the cement pad. Others wind the giant wind panels around the pavilion posts, then stay late to take them down. Before the teacher arrives, others suggest ways we can thank her for teaching the class so thoroughly and wisely and compassionately, for free, because she wants to. At Christmas, one handed out bags of cookies. Not Dangerous (probably).

Do you play this game with your neighbors the whole time you’re outside? I have to admit, it’s wearing on the soul. But, the positive interactions revive my optimism about this nomad crew, so I keep playing the game.

Ukulele Segment

I have a nice photo and decent audio of a new song (for me); if you’re willing, try to imagine them together as a video.

9 thoughts to “The Is-That-Person-Dangerous Game”

    1. Thank you, you sweet friend! I started learning it that day, and this early version is a fluke, like beginner’s luck. I can’t recreate it or fix the problems it has. You know I’m working on it though!

  1. Great segment! Our neighbors aren’t dangerous (probably)! For one thing, we know where they live, permanently. I suppose they can run away, but unlikely. Sounds like yours is a great neighborhood, even if it isn’t permanent.

    1. Thanks Renee! You’re neighbors are kind, I know for sure, from that time we went into someone else’s house for a party thinking it was yours and it took a few minutes for anyone to question us. So funny!

  2. Utterly fascinating, and I KNOW I’d be doing exactly that in the same exhausting way… yet, weirdly, I live in downtown Baltimore surrounded by many more strangers than you are at any time. Yes, I know many of my neighbors, mostly by sight, some by hello, maybe less than ten by conversations, but most everyone I see at any point is a stranger, but I never think twice about it… but I do when I’m traveling.

    1. Isn’t that strange? I am fascinated by people around me while I’m camping in a campground (and back in the day when I would visit friends in foreign cities). But yeah, my thinking is I’m more safe here than I would be plopped down in Baltimore without a guide.

  3. that is an amzing version of Jolene. Your version is much better then Dolly,s and I can feel the sadness at knowing she is taking your man. It is beautiful. Your best song yet.

    1. Oh that is sweet, and only because you know me! Dolly actually sings, whereas I’m trying to just get through the song. But I’m having fun, too. Thanks, Lucy!