What I did on summer vacation 2023 will either bore you to tears, or make you break into them. Depending on whether you can relate to an old lady who had to work all summer in 312 degree heat. I got in my car one afternoon–which had been sitting in the driveway exposed to our life giving sun in Las Vegas–and the interior temperature registered 127. I would have tried cooking an egg over easy in the passenger seat, but who can afford to waste eggs? The passenger wouldn’t have been too happy, either.
Though I normally reside in the far northern part of California, I drove south to Vegas at the end of June to try out DoorDashing. Our town of 2800 doesn’t support much of that, and gas is now at $6 a gallon here. Dashing was wonderful, my so-called friends told me. I would make lots of dough delivering bread-like items to people too lazy to drive to Jack in the Box themselves.
Not until after I got to Vegas and started using my car in ways to which it was unaccustomed, did these friends tell me that DoorDash was not all it is cracked up to be. And, almost as soon as I started, my car began having health issues. Without my mechanic friend, with whom I was staying, I would have been toast. In a jam indeed, had he not saved my bacon more than once.
(There are certainly a lot of breakfast metaphors around here.)
The one issue he couldn’t personally solve was when the tranny acted out. It had a broken range sensor, which meant it didn’t know which gear it was in. This is akin to riding a bronco in a rodeo, and it will spill your beverage on the floor toot sweet. After that, the power steering pump went, making it a real rodeo ride, only with no control over the horse.
I was in Vegas for three months, longer than I’ve ever been gone from home. Mostly I missed my dog, Sugar, but don’t tell my son that. When my car wasn’t drive-able, I hung out at the Palace Station casino and let them pay for air conditioning. It got so cold in there, I needed a jacket. Good times. I won $50 my first visit and used that to play for an entire month. Dollar delicious margaritas, too. Man, those are good.
My teetotalling friend wanted to know what they taste like without alcohol. First off, who cares, and secondly, they’re pre-mixed, which takes the guessing out of the whole thing. I want one of those machines. I would have me a margarita every afternoon apres middle school. Drown the memories of seventh graders in the frosty goodness of a little alcohol and salt.
Back to Dashing for fun and profit: Off I would go to one corner of town or the other and wait for the offers to roll in. When I would routinely get offers to drive 12 miles for $3.50, making it a total of driving 24 miles for 3 bucks, I started to get suspicious. Who was doing this kind of work? Only morons like me, or smarter people who could see the big picture?
I didn’t know what the big picture might be, but perhaps there was one. After a while of this, I would throw my hands up in the overheated air and go to the Palace Station where there was at least a chance at making a little money, and where I could stay cool, not use gas, and have a margarita. Win win. Unless you lose your head and chase money, that is. Don’t want to do that.
To top it all off–the cherry on the whipped cream–the State of Nevada saw fit to declare me ineligible for extra help because I made a pesky $200 dashing. They took $500 from my September Social Security check. This on top of tranny repair work. I had so much anxiety just trying to pay the bills, Johnson and Johnson stock went up in Tums sales.
DoorDash struck me as so disgusting–not to mention the US government, those bums–the modern equivalent of the French aristocracy in A Tale of Two Cities, that I was beside myself. When at last I rolled into Reno on September 18th, ready to sub for a week and Dash after subbing, and so homesick I couldn’t stand it, I discovered that Vegas might be an anomaly. I did so much better in Reno in two days than I did in weeks in Vegas. I rarely got tipped in Vegas, because everyone wants the Dasher to “leave it at the door.” In Reno, I was making actual tips, even if the people never saw me.
Thanks to inflation, I now have a chance to live the hippie life. I slept in my car in Reno, not only to reduce expenses, but out of necessity. It got pretty cold, and I wasn’t prepared for fall nights, seeing as how I’d left home in June and had only summer things with me. A truck plaza with an all night casino, security, and clean bathrooms and laundry room is my home away from home for the foreseeable future, or until it snows too much to drive there.
The truck plaza wants $18 for a shower, so we know someone is getting hosed, but I solved that dilemma by going to a community pool and paying the senior rate. I waltzed in, took my shower, dried my hair, did my makeup, and went home again–which is to say, got in my car.
When you live out of your car, you have an odd sense of rootlessness. You don’t go “home” because you ARE home. I did a little grocery shopping, stowed the bag in the car and thought, “I could rush home to put these away, but they already are away!” I’m not really homeless, but I might as well be. And I’m still better off than the true homeless.
So you get in the car and think, “What next?” Normally, I’d go home, fix some lunch or dinner, get ready for the next day, watch a movie, go to sleep. I did all that in the car, too, but it felt weird.
There’s always the RV, but I can’t dash in that without looking like a food truck, a meth lab, or a mobile bordello, it would cost a fortune in gas, and park rents are far too expensive. I could park in the truck plaza with the RV, but it would require moving every day, which would require towing the car. I have thought of every angle, I think, and I can’t find my way around this one.
But let’s back up a bit back to Vegas. I neglected to tell my Gentle Readers about one of my summer roommates, a woman by the name of Angel. A misnomer if ever there was one.
Angel is my friend’s sister. She is in her 50s and should know better, particularly after her entire family in Vegas, and her four grown children and ten grandchildren in Arkansas have either kicked her out or refuse to live with her, but we know some people never learn. And I mean never.
She could barely bring herself to speak to me the first day I got there, but I didn’t mind too much. After all, it isn’t easy to suddenly find yourself living with a stranger. But it is my friend’s house, not hers, and she needed to get over it. I mean, give it a minute or two before you decide you hate me.
She thawed a bit, but that just made it worse. For the first time since I was five years old, someone questioned me about whether I was washing my hands after using the bathroom. I kid you not. Here I am, her mother’s age, her brother’s guest, a nice older lady, and this weird twit with a southern accent is questioning whether I wash my hands!
The first thing she did was print out an internet page titled The Importance of Washing Your Hands, stapled to a one page letter detailing the evil consequences to her if I failed to do so since we shared a bathroom. She left this impressive missive on my bed. It was puzzling, but I forgot about it. Until she came to the door of my bedroom a day or two later and asked if I would “please wash my hands?”
I looked at her and said–after a moment, in order to reign in that pesky temper and remembering that I was a guest–“What is giving you the impression that I don’t wash my hands????” She responded that she doesn’t notice any soap missing, that paper towels have not been used, and the sink is dry.
Not that it is ANYONE’S business what I do in the bathroom, guest or not (unless I happen to be cooking meth), but I explained to her that I don’t use up a paper towel just to dry my hands, that I shake my hands and then dab them on my tee shirt, and that I use my bar soap, not her liquid soap, and that if I do use a paper towel, I finish it up by drying the sink, as all good flight attendants do and I still do, even at home. I keep a washcloth on our sink for that purpose. Wet countertops drive me crazy.
I also took my own towel in the bathroom for brushing my teeth, etc. I didn’t leave one thing in that bathroom except my bar of soap.
My explanation was not accepted at face value. She persisted in her belief that I never wash my hands. She particularly wanted me to wash my hands in the kitchen BEFORE entering the inner sanctum of HER bathroom. Which was open to all of my friend’s customers who were having car repairs done, I might add.
Dumping my stuff on the kitchen counters–were there room, which there were not–when I first enter the house, in order to wash my hands before rushing to the bathroom to pee, is not in my wheelhouse. Never will be.
I tried to reassure her that I keep a spray bottle of alcohol in the car to sanitize my hands after touching the handles of doors to businesses, but it fell on deaf ears. Ears no doubt clogged by the wax of self-righteousness.
What she failed to realize, but which afforded me much amusement, is that there are many ways to exact revenge on someone–ways that would cause her much anxiety. I will let your imagination roam freely, now.
My friend suggested I don’t dry the sink in order to convince her I was washing my hands, but that just led to martyred notes that said she “had SO much extra work to do now.” This from the woman who would bring home huge armloads of flowers from Smith’s, cut them up for vases, leave the detritus all over the floors and counters, and leave her dirty dishes in the sink for three days at a time, or a plate of food in the microwave. She also left a pretty present of her trousers in the bathtub one day, with the crotch facing up. I’m a woman and I almost threw up.
As for me, I barely used the kitchen in case I shed some invisible DNA. In the mornings, I would lay out one of those paper towels, set up my French press, mug, and spoon, make my coffee and then leave to dash. I wouldn’t return until midnight or later. There were days I never saw her, and when I did, I stayed in my room.
By the end of the first week, I heard her at her brother’s door weeping and wailing about expenses and how she “has to pawn her Keurig coffeemaker to help with the bills.” He was aghast. He hasn’t twigged to the fact he’s got a drama queen on his hands and she lies a lot.
Mind you, that first week I used the Keurig to make my coffee–my own coffee that I had brought with me. I cleaned and filled it after each use. But it disappeared that day of the Weeping in the Hallway, presumably to a pawnshop, but we know it was her storage unit. She can’t pay her share of expenses to her brother, but she keeps a storage unit in town.
(A little background: this woman was once homeless, living in a tent in Arkansas until her Vegas family branch decided to transport her there and give her a hand. Her own kids live in Arkansas and weren’t helping her. I got most of her story from her mother with whom she lived for a time and who wants nothing to do with her now. Yeah, yeah. It’s very sad.)
Nothing daunted, I had a $25 stainless steel French press from Amazon delivered to the door before the day was out. You can do many things, but mess with my coffee you will not. The Keurig is just an overpriced drip coffee maker, anyway. Nothing beats percolated or French press.
It set Miss Thang back a bit, knowing I wasn’t going to vacate the premises due to a lack of caffeine.
My friend sent me a picture of the Keurig, back in its pride of place on the countertop, the day I left for home. Imagine going 3 months without your coffeemaker just to keep someone else from using it. All she had to do was ask me not to use it and that would have been that. I never would have touched it again.
What made this even MORE interesting was The Case of the Missing Bath Mats. She had asked me the first day if I would kindly refrain from stepping on the bath mats. You can’t make this stuff up, people.
See, no one had warned me there was a psycho in residence, so I just nodded and asked my friend about it. He was as puzzled as I, even though he knows there is something wrong with his sister. She’s functional otherwise and has held down a job at Smith’s for a few years. She also manages to take over any household she’s in. I think we’re talking unfettered narcissism rather than true mental illness, here.
I don’t throw the N word around lightly; I think we are all narcissistic to a certain extent. But some people have made it a fine art.
The bathroom we shared is small, so avoiding the bath mats was impossible. There was one in front of the sink where presumably I was NOT washing my hands. There was one around the base of the potty. There was one by the tub. They all went missing, so when I went to step out of the tub one day, I had to be extra careful not to slip on the tile floor. It felt like a Bette Davis horror film. I was convinced the flashing knife was waiting in the darkness of the hallway. The old lady was going down.
My friend gave me a mat that belonged to his cat and I kept it in the guest bedroom for when I needed it. That wasn’t often, because I began to shower at the pool where I went to swim almost every day. It was easier than dealing with insanity.
She once took a picture of the tub after I’d been in it to show her brother a foot print I had made. I never go outside barefoot so where do you suppose my feet got dirty? Uh-huh. Ms. Clean’s house. That’s where.
It is hard to understand the complete lack of hospitality and kindness due a guest. The potential embarrassment you would cause someone talking about their supposed lack of hygiene. If I was truly a slob, I would probably use it as a wake up call, but I’m not. I’m more careful in someone else’s home. She was always quoting scriptures, too, which made it even harder to understand. Are people really that hypocritical and just plain mean? Yes, Virginia, they are.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, 600 miles away, someone had reported Don’s car as abandoned. That generated a flurry of activity trying to figure out what to do about it. It was on our property and it was propping the gate closed so the dogs didn’t get out. They love to explore the town and then spend the weekend in doggie jail costing me a minimum of $50, not including the resort fees.
We got that solved before the police towed it away, although it left me very angry at my neighbor, who I know reported the car, because there is no one else around. Next came Sophie’s exodus over Labor Day weekend. She disappeared for four days and we were convinced we’d never see her again. But a woman saw her on the third day playing chicken with a semi and rescued her. Brandon must have walked from one end of town to the other, looking for her over that four days. She was Don’s baby and I was distraught.
Finally, just to keep me in my place, an hour after I really had arrived home from Reno and where Sophie promptly wandered off again while we were unloading the car, I turned my foot under at the curb and felt something pop. I hobbled around home for a week instead of going back to Reno to work. Bye bye work week.
Sophie we found an hour later trotting across the street in front of the courthouse. Little twerp.
Just as my foot was healing, I worked two days here in town and came down with a head cold and laryngitis. Nothing daunted, I was going to work anyway in Reno and give those lousy kids their germs back. I checked the Reno school schedule and they are on fall break this week through Monday. Poor teachers. They are so overworked.
But characters and events like these make for great blog posts, don’t they? How would it have been to have spent a productive, happy summer, in decent weather, with no car trouble, no crazy people, and nothing bad happening at home? What would be left for heaven?
Is what I always think.