That used to be an easy question to answer. And for most people, it is. But, we’re not most people anymore. Travelling for work like I do, “Where are you from?” is usually the ice-breaker topic on every rig I go to. I can ask that to anyone I want to, and as long as I’m on my toes, I can have some snappy follow up questions that keep us talking about them, instead of me. The problem is, I’m not a very snappy follow up question kind of guy. It wouldn’t be right to say I’m not interested. But whether they’re from Arkansas or Siberia, it doesn’t mean much to how we’re getting the hole drilled. (That’s the old me talking. And I know it’s not “socially proper”… but… for the most part, I’d rather know how long they’ve been drilling, instead of how tall their tree stand is.)
If I knew more about tree stands, I’d never have to talk about me.
(I haven’t graphed this out, but I’d be willing to bet I could accurately estimate where someone was from by how they hunt)
But, I didn’t want to get introspective about my inner drive (or lack thereof) to fine tune my desire (or lack thereof) to be a social butterfly. At work, I used to be able to give a quick little “Raleigh” response. Which was usually met with one or two responses; the most common is “You mean you’re NOT from Canada?” And that’s an ok response, because now we all get to chuckle around a bit and talk about the company (which means NOT talking about me). The other response is “Oh! I’ve been to/I have family that lives in ____.”; another ok response, because now we’re back to talking about THEM, and not ME.
But, when their side of the conversation dries up… or when I’m not at work and talking to people I bump into here and there… THAT’S where I start to have problems. Because when they’re all done telling me about their tree stands, they ask “so, where are you from?” (Sometimes preceded by: “You do any hunting?”)
So what do I say (at work, or not)? Because, instead of saying “Raleigh”, I should just be able to say “We’re full-timing.” The problem is, the number of people that know already what that means is miniscule. There are a lot of RV’ers that don’t know what that means. (trust me, we’ve met a bunch). There are some that do, and that’s because they are full-timing too (or want to). But, that’s not the conversations we’re having problems with. Those conversations are quite pleasant.
Stranger: “I see you guys have Texas plates… is that where you’re from?”
Us: “No, we’re full-timing”
Stranger: “Really? Us too! How long have you been here?”
Otherwise, it sounds more like this:
Stranger: “So, where are you from?”
Us: “We’re full timing in our RV.”
Stranger: “Did you say RV?”
Us: “Yea, we bought a 32 foot pull behind, and we’re seeing the country for a while.”
Stranger: “You mean like a trailer?”
Us: “Yea, it’s an RV.”
Stranger: “You LIVE in it??”
Us: “Well, yea, we’re travelling around the country”
(when I’m having this conversation outside of my wife’s presence, I OFTEN get this one):
Stranger: “Your wife’s ok with that?”
Me: “Yea, haha, it was kind of her idea!”
Stranger: “To… LIVE in a trailer?”
Me: “It’s an RV.”
Stranger: “So I guess you guys don’t have kids, huh?”
Us: “We have three. We’re using this as a way to show them first hand some different parts of the country.”
Stranger: “Your kids live in a trailer too? How old are they?”
Us: “Eleven, seven and four”
Stranger: “Wow. They must not go to school then, huh?”
Us: “We homeschool. We’re using travelling as a way to show them things that most kids just see in books”
Stranger: “So, you just drag your trailer around from place to place? Your kids don’t really have a chance to make any friends then, huh?”
Us: “It’s really not as bad as it sounds! The only real obstacle we’ve had so far is laundry.”
Stranger: “Riiiiggghhhhhttttt… I could see how that would be a problem… living in a TRAILER.”
I’ve had that conversation a lot. I think that “strangers” must all go to the same scripting study hall, because it’s almost always the same conversation.
(I just remembered my sister’s response when we told her what we were doing. Ha! You could HEAR her put down everything, and slowly sit in her chair. I’m pretty sure there was a “Do you guys need anything from me?” somewhere in her response. That was her way of saying, “wow, I just realized I’m talking to someone who’s gone insane since the last time we spoke!”)
Once people get a chance to chew on this for a while, they kind of get interested. They see it as unique. And maybe something THEY could pull off. But, you can tell by their voices that they have Chris Farley from SNL in the back of their head red-faced and screaming “They live in a VAN down by the RIVER!!”
So, I’m sure we’re leaving a trail across America that thinks we’re destitute… homeless… vagabonds. Well, ok. We’re kind of vagabonds. But, it’s a choice, and we entered into it willingly, and with our eyes open. We’re contributing to society. I have a job. I pay taxes. We’re not collecting government assistance, and we’re not a drain on the economy. We don’t even HAVE a credit card. We pay our bills. So what if we smell like campfire smoke sometimes? Haha.
It’s just funny that when we say to people “We’re full-timing”… you can usually see in their face that they’ve translated that to: “We’re homeless and wandering”.
We’re not homeless. We very much love our home. We just have a bigger back yard than most people.
(and sometimes we have trouble explaining it!)