Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Topic of Being Human

My blog-reading began with the expectation of many "Oh! I want to see that" and "We have to go there" and "Let's be sure to avoid that place". I was also hoping for some "That looks like the best extended warranty for us" and "We won't buy those tires" and "I'll follow those steps when dumping the black tank".

Certainly those expectations have been met, and continue to be so every week. "Seeing" so much of the country even before we launch has opened my eyes well beyond the original routing through national monuments (still want to see all of them) and tourist spots (still want to see some of them). I've confirmed that a rig larger than 35' will limit our ability to stay in the kind of places we prefer. I know the value in taking "alternate" routes. More than learning specific brands and service providers, I've learned what questions to ask and about the reliable resources and experts in our community - that the answer to any question we'll have is at our fingertips.

Then there's the un-expected takeaways. If you read more than one RV'ing blog, and have been doing so for more than five minutes, you likely know what I mean. Interspersed among the traveling and campground reviews, the rig repairs and addition of new gadgets, is what I think of as the "topic of being human." Some bloggers include them as part of a daily journal, while others add them as separate posts. Regardless of the delivery, these entries are generally thought-provoking and focus on the "life" in lifestyle.

For someone like myself who is obsessed with starting the full-time life (I gladly admit this as I know I am in good company), it is easy to focus on all the positive factors. It's human nature.

Ironically, it's human nature that often gets overlooked when planning a major lifestyle change.

Who do I think is going to be parked next to us? Who do I imagine will be in the dump station line with us? And just as critical - who do I think I will be "out there"? The answer is simply - humans. Me too - I'll be human. Specifically, the same human I am today. With all the same flaws.

Not surprising, it was another blogger's post that got me thinking about this. Maura at Bucket List or Bust raised the question of class distinction among Rv'ers. Not a reference to A, B or C, she talks about age and size and first impressions. Her delightful "being human" story about her own judgements reminded me of one of my own (very few) flaws. 

As a teenager I was sometimes embarrassed by my father. Once I became a parent I realized that embarrassing your kids is one of the bonuses of the job......but at 15 I didn't know that yet. Dad was a fan of duct tape and baling wire, and other "creative" modifications. They always worked. They always worked well. Sometimes they looked "funky".

Dad would drive on that bridge......

Before heading out on a camping trip, Dad "modified" the rear bumper on the pick-up with galvanized pipe. It gave us a large working surface for cleaning fish and preparing meals. It looked really funky. I was embarrassed by what I thought others would "think" of it. But, like the spool in Maura's story, the work surface was a big hit at the campground. Other campers drew pictures of it, and asked Dad questions about the construction.

I remember being proud of Dad's genius, although I'm sure I kept it to my 15-year-old self!

As a teenager I sometimes embarrassed my father. Less about job bonus and more about being a brat......but sometimes Dad learned something too. Same pick-up truck, different trip. Before we left I stuck bright colored daisies on the side of the camper shell. You know the kind - pink and purple, blue and green. Large, really good adhesive. I remember him saying "Oh great, now everyone will think I'm a damn hippy!" He was not happy. He definitely thought they looked funky.

My dream

Dad's nightmare

At the campground I was delighted with our new "decor". Dad was still miffed.

That first evening another camper was walking past while my dad was unloading something from the truck. I heard the man say "I see you have a daughter too." I would learn years later that it was the stickers that had caught Erik's eye. He and his daughter Carolyn would become good friends of ours, enjoying some camping trips together. Dad often told the story of the "damn hippy flowers" that brought together two single fathers of only-daughters. They were still on the camper when he sold it.

I need to remember that pipe table and those flower stickers. I need to remember what making advance judgement can take away from a new situation. Because I usually don't remember.

In spite of spending my career fighting for social justice - or perhaps because of it - I have high expectations of people. I'm occasionally disappointed - in them and myself.

And somehow I expect that other Rv'ers will be better, kinder, smarter, more "human" than people I encounter in "this life". Like we purge our flaws with all our other unnecessary stuff before going on the road?  Certainly, I'd like to leave mine behind :-).

I thank Maura for her post, and other bloggers who cover the "topic of being human". It gives me an opportunity to look at the reality of a lifestyle that includes real people, with real flaws, just like me. 

Maybe the next trip to Goodwill I can toss in a box of "snap-judgement" and avoid trying to find room for it in the motorhome.......

Throw in some human flaws


  1. Another one of your thoughtful and thought provoking posts. Love your 'dad" stories. Girls who had dads who spent time with them were always high up on my envy list. You are going to be the most prepared and ready full timer to ever hit the road. We had no preparation and had never owned or driven an RV before. We we life long tenters and backpackers who had "attitude" about RVs and the people who drove them. Live and learn.

    1. I was very lucky to have such a great dad, and sometimes wonder how he ever survived me :-). If we're prepared it will in part be thanks to you and others who generously share your reality. "We plan, the gods laugh....." I suspect we will be fodder for many a chuckle when we get out there :-).

  2. Humans will always be humans. They are everywhere. Some you want to spend time with and some not so much. You'll see them when you hit the road just like you do back "home" now. However, many of the barriers disappear. The good thing is your home will have wheels and it's easier to move on down that road.

    1. Ah yes, the flexibility of being able to move away from unpleasant locations is high on our "why we're doing this" list!!

  3. Great post Jodee, You have a great way with words and your Dad story is a very good example of life's serendipity! Thanks for enjoying mine.


  4. Loved you story of you and your dad with the "hippie" flowered camper:) We have met wonderful people of all ages and classes in this lifestyle. I have found almost all of them are more accepting then in my working days. We seem to all have one thing in common, whether we are in a truck camper or a Prevost bus, we are enjoying this beautiful country.

    1. I do see that in many posts and forums - that love of travel and wonderful places seems to be a great "equalizer".

  5. Jodee, just wait until you go to Quartzsite! There is one super hippie van there. I have photos of it, but someplace that I do not remember. Love your Dad story. My Dad and I had the best relationship and so much fun together. He would love to be traveling full time. Wish he were still here.

    1. Would you believe my dad lived in Quartzsite when he retired?? Wonder if he ever saw the van?! Yep, wish mine was too :-).

  6. I'm not human...but I'm far from perfect! lol Jodee, I found you via Interstellar Orchard, and I'm glad I did. One of my greatest worries is that I will fail in socializing; most people think I'm friendly and nice--and I do, too!--but occasionally something goes awry in a flaming or even explosive fashion. Your writing shows a focus that I'd like to develop, to learn about the "human" side of people.

    There's a story I'd like to tell. A traveler was at a gas station (must have been back in the 1960s) when a car pulled in. The driver asked the attendant, in the course of conversation, what folks were like there. He was thinking of moving to the area, he said.
    "Well," the attendant said, scratching his jaw. "What are folks like back where you're from?"
    "Oh, they're terrible! Liars, thieves, and gossips! That's why I'd like to move!"
    "My, my," the attendant commiserated. "They're just like that around here."
    The driver grumbled something that might have been thanks, and sped off.
    A minute or so later, another car pulled in, and the driver asked the same question, and got the same initial counter-question: "What are they like where you're from?"
    "My neighbors are marvelous people," the driver responded with a smile. "Always helpful, friendly and courteous. I couldn't have better neighbors!"
    "Well, they're just like that around here," the attendant replied.
    The driver thanked him and waved as he drove away.
    The traveler, observing these two very different responses, was puzzled. "Why did you give those people different answers? Were you trying to drive one of them away?" he asked.
    "Oh, no! I've learned that people always find folks just like themselves, no matter where they are," was the answer.

    I've found that's generally true. I suspect that most of it is simply people responding to what you give them: If you smile when you see a stranger, they'll almost certainly smile back. If you look like you're suffering from gallstones, yeah, they will, too lol! Jodee, I'll bet most of the people you meet are marvelous!

    1. I agree strongly that you get back what you put out there. Thanks for sharing the story Michael :-) You'll find lots of opportunities to be social on the road - we've found most people will engage if we reach out, and often if we're just sitting outside others will stop to chat.