Van Vignettes: Part 2

A few stories about our attempts to hide from people.

EPISODE 1

“Van Counseling”

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Levi woke up one morning to the familiar sound of someone talking loudly on their phone as they passed by. He tried to fall back asleep, but realized the man on the phone planted himself on a park bench right outside, facing the van. He sat there for a long time discussing his health problems, ongoing divorce, and estrangement from his friends and family…all unaware there was a person in the van (note to self: always assume there’s a person in every van) laying in bed listening to his every word. Although Levi didn’t want to eavesdrop and actually needed to leave for the day, he knew if he drove off then, the guy would know someone had been in there the whole time. He didn’t want the man to know so he just sat there listening and hoping it would end soon. Finally Levi couldn’t take it anymore. He went out there, introduced himself and talked through some of the man’s issues with him. No joke. Therapy from an angelic bum living in a van. God works in mysterious ways.

EPISODE 2

“Hide Yo Kids”

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Levi had to take our regular car for a couple of weeks, leaving me to drive the van to my office. Luckily it has a large parking lot, giving me the small hope of being undiscovered. Being new to this job, the van wasn’t likely to make a great impression. Call me crazy, but there’s just something about that van that speaks less of motivation, promise and success, and more of Dollar General, missing teeth, and a criminal record. It’s like driving around a moving billboard with, “As seen on Megan’s Law” written across it. Not to mention my job was to write about nice cars and I was driving this beast.

Pulling up I felt like a mortified teenager being dropped off in front of the high school in her mom’s horrible mini-van. Except I was both the daughter and the mom. It not only put my social life in danger, but also my livelihood. I didn’t want to raise any eyebrows. And a twenty-something professional woman, living in L.A. without kids or physical disabilities, and no excuse whatsoever to be driving a high-top conversion van definitely will raise some eyebrows. They couldn’t handle the truth: “Hi, I’m the new writer here. I’m a highly responsible person with a lot of motivation to do well in life. And by the way, that crusty van out there? It’s mine. I live in it…Sometimes I sleep in your parking lot.”

So I plotted to park on the far outskirts of the parking lot. Still, I was terrified. Also parked in the outskirts was a co-worker I knew well. He gets out of his Audi and of course walks right in front of me while I’m pulling in. I was so scared he would glance over and recognize me, so I ducked under the steering wheel and drove a considerably unsafe distance at 1 mph until I was sure he was long past. However he kept looking back at the van. I’m not sure if it was because he was sketched out that there was a moving vehicle with a ghost driver, or simply because a molester van was in the vicinity. Either way I can’t blame him.

Leaving work late one night there weren’t many cars left. Another co-worker walking out with me asked where I was parked and I waved my hand vaguely across the entire parking lot, “Uh over there.” He left and I climbed into my van. Another day unnoticed, and I was safe in the comfort of my home.

EPISODE 2

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor.”

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This would only happen when Levi, a regular ol’ Mr. Rodgers, has the van.

LEVI: I met one of our neighbors today.

ANDY: Our neighbors?

LEVI: Yeah her name is Rhonda. She is a recent divorcee and she lives on our street.

ANDY: Wait like a van dweller neighbor, or one who actually lives in a house?

LEVI: A house.

ANDY: Why are you talking to people who live in houses?! Don’t do that!

LEVI: She was nice! Besides she approached me first.

ANDY: A woman who lives in a house approached you? Were you by the van? Why wasn’t she scared? What did she say?

LEVI: She said, ‘Hey you must be my new neighbor.’

ANDY: WHAT? She has noticed us?? Does she know we live in the van?

LEVI: Well yeah I was by the van towel drying, and she said she had noticed our van around and wanted to introduce herself.

ANDY: She wasn’t mad?

LEVI: No. She said there’s lots of us van people around. She was just being a friendly neighbor. She said she lived down the street and that we could always come to her if we needed something.

ANDY: What? This is so weird.

LEVI: Yeah she was really nice.

ANDY: I just don’t understand why she would be so cool with homeless people living on her street:…wait why did she tell you she was divorced?

Epilogue

A few days later I stumble out of the van in the morning, brushing my teeth. The sun was bright and I was groggy. A walking group of women passed by just as I climbed out of the van. I hear: “Good morning Andy!” It was Rhonda. I was as shocked and confused as the group of women she was with, not to mention my mouth was full of toothpaste.Finally I tried to say good morning back, but it came out as the sound of a questioning gurgle. The sound you’d expect from a disheveled homeless woman stumbling into the street out of her rundown van.

 

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5 thoughts on “Van Vignettes: Part 2

  1. Hi!

    I teach 11th grade English and I just wanted to let you know that I am having my students read some of your posts as homework. We are currently reading “Walden” by Thoreau, and we’re talking about his philosophy of throwing away luxury and living a simpler life. So if you see a lot of traffic on your site in the next couple of days, it’s my students! I see that you haven’t posted in awhile, so I’m just wondering how everything is going? We would love to see another post!

    –Rachel DeAngelis

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    • Hi Rachel! I don’t know how I missed this comment! That is so awesome you are teaching Walden and using fun ways to get your students excited. I love it. Which makes me even more sad I haven’t kept up-to-date on this thing. I’m back now and I will have fresh posts coming right up. I’m sure you’ve moved on to Great Gatsby or something which I won’t have much relevance too…but maybe. Tell your class we are alive and well and to study hard and maybe one day they too can live in a van. 😉

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  2. meagan says:

    Okay, so I have loved your posts pictures etc so far. However this one has kind of bothered me. You choose to live in a van, there are so many displaced people in this world who do NOT choose that life. I can’t explain why but this post made me cringe for them. However they probably won’t see this post as they usually don’t have the luxuries of internet/mobile devices to connect, and they are probably more worried about their next meal or getting clothes to even go to a job that is not “successful”. Risking your job because of the vehicle you drive? Worrying that you will seem less successful due to the items you own/do not own? What happened to work ethics, commitment, etc being the deciding factor in a person’s “sucess”. I know many successful people who do not have to drive the latest, greatest vehicles to prove they are good at what they do. Success is not measured by the price of the items you can purchase, the type of car you drive or the size of your home. Saying these things matter only negate the “simple” life you claim you want.

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    • hey meagan! thanks for your comment and sorry for the huge delay, I haven’t been on this site in a long time, but I’m back and hopefully you decide to stick around. I understand your concerns. Obviously I’m not SO worried about the (un)materialistic impact of my van-home that I don’t still drive to work in it. In fact, the car I drive normally is the same car I’ve had since high school and is a total hooptie and all my co-workers at my last job knew about it and laughed and still paid me and gave me promotions and it was all good. But this was my first month as a freelancer at a new job and too early for me to have made much of an impression at all, and I hadn’t been offered a full-time position yet. So yeah, although I completely agree work ethics, commitment, etc. should be the driving factor (no pun intended) in how a person is perceived at their job, I also have to face the reality that sketchy looking vans make people uncomfortable. They just do. And in order to literally work and survive, I have to pick my battles like anyone else. I had to let them get to know me for my work ethic first before they got to know me for my homelessness. But most of all, I thought it was a fun story to put on my light-hearted blog.

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