Friday, March 7, 2008

Getting messed with

(this was posted to the Vandweller's Yahoo group)

My friend who was homeless for several years, warned me, "You're going
to get messed with. The cops will mess with you. Criminals will try to
rip you off. You'll get messed with. Just deal with it." Of course,
she used much stronger language than that. I thought I would be clever
and stealthy enough to escape. But so far, she has been right. I guess
I have to be more clever-- or more careful.

I've gotten tagged wtih graffitti three times so far. I found that
acetone is amazing, by the way. It takes off graffitti as easily as
wiping down your kitchen counter. Takes the underlying paint off too,
but, very nice anyway.

I actually caught someone spraying me, and stopped him a few nights
ago! I was in a nightlife-oriented area because I desperately needed
wireless access and I knew there'd be lots of it there. There was. At
around 2AM, I'd had enough and was deciding whether to stay or to go
find another parking spot to sleep in. Just then I heard "sssss". My
first thought was about the source of that "ssssss" having an
unhealthily close relationship with his mother. I was furious. Way too
angry to be scared. So I slid the door to the cab, and looked out via
the mirror. There was a white kid, about 20, totally clean-cut,
looking like he was straight from Indiana or something. I opened the
passenger door and shouted, "HEY!! CUT THAT OUT!!". He looked at me
sheepishly, like he'd just hit a foul ball through my living room
window. And said, "Ummm.... sorry". Then he put his spraypaint back in
his backpack and slinked away with his tail between his legs,
muttering, "Sorry... sorry", while I glared at him.

Then, the other night, someone tried to steal my van! I was in a
somewhat poorer residential neighborhood that had some industrial
shops around, figuring I'd blend in. I woke up at around 4AM to the
van being shaken, like someone was pushing on it. I can't do a Rebel
Yell, being a Yankee, so I did my best Joe Pesci voice, and hollered,
"HEY!" Silence. Nothing. I went back to sleep, thinking it might have
been the wind or someone just leaning up against the van. I woke up
the next morning to find that someone had drilled out my driver's side
lock! I guess the guy was pulling on the door to try to get in. That
was scary. Maybe he lived in the apartment building next to which I
was parked, and saw the solar panels on the roof, or something. Or
maybe he just thought the van might have something valuable in it, I

Cops, of course, have ticketed me four times. My own fault for not
being an expert on the vehicle code. Once for parking on the street in
a town that didn't allow any commercial vehicles over 10,00 GVWR.
Three times for being on the wrong side of the street; in some areas
where I find myself, you aren't allowed to park on certain sides of
the street on certain nights because of street sweeping.

Bad things seem to happen around 4AM. 4AM-5AM seems to be Bad Time for
me vandwelling.

My safest nights so far have been in suburban strip-mall parking lots.
That seems to be the best spot. Nobody around, relatively quiet,
well-lit, no kids messing with me, too small to have private security
guards, and since it's private property there are no cops issuing
parking tickets. The box van blends in effortlessly there. Of course I
hate being in suburban areas or strip malls, but I'm discovering
that's the safest place to be at night.

It seems like the key is to be in a neighborhood too upscale for
desperate street criminals, but too grungy for the cops to monitor too
closely. It's a delicate balance.

No comments: