Something happened today.  My feelings are mixed – on the one hand it was really sweet, kind and well intentioned.  On the other hand, it was bizarre and I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around it.  It’s gonna take a little bit of a

While we were living in Turkey and Colombia, we got to live what I consider to be a lavish lifestyle.  We had beautiful apartments, we traveled frequently, we had help in our homes.  In Istanbul we had access to an indoor pool and in Colombia a man would come to the apartment to shine our shoes.  That’s my personal definition of ‘lavish’.  When I tell people about it, I say we got to play rich while not actually being American rich (I make the distinction out of respect for the people I came to know from those countries – we {you and I and everyone in the U.S.} actually are rich by the standards in other countries).  It was a fascinating experience.

Side Editorial:  Many people in that position become accustomed to the lifestyle and forget that they’re not rich.  I didn’t.  Not once did I forget that someone else was footing a major part of my bill and neither Scott nor I had earned what we had. We hadn’t used our money to buy much of it.  That’s a deep and important distinction to me.  (I come by it honestly…. New England…. hard working… Puritans… blah blah blah.)

Fast forward to our current experience.  When in San Fran I was asked for my EBT card.  Hmmmmmmmmmm.  Different.  It didn’t sit well.  I suppose that’s because I’m proud of the fact that I’ve been responsible, made good decisions and worked hard to always be able to provide for myself and my family (which is not to insinuate that people who need help aren’t those things – I don’t claim to know anything about anyone else’s situation).  Scott and Brock assured me that we were in a part of town where that was just more common than using your credit card.  Ok. 

Now here’s what happened today:  Scott was picking up the toys outside the RV.  The lady from the RV next door was also out. She was maybe late 50s.  She and her husband had a newish big diesel pusher (a really pretty one).  They had seen the Purple Heart plates and she thanked Scott for his service.  With a great deal of emotion, she asked if she could hug him.  After the hug, she pushed a $20 bill into his hand.  He tried adamantly to refuse it, thanking her but saying that we don’t need money.  She insisted.  Vehemently.  Scott describes it as your grandmother insisting on giving you cash – eventually, you decide to take the graceful out, say thank you and mean it.

Why did she give him money?  She didn’t offer an explanation.  Was it just to be nice?  Maybe.  Did they think he was a poor veteran trying to raise 2 kids in an old RV?  Likely.  Was it kind and were her intentions well meaning?  100% yes.

I think we might be playing poor now. How about them apples?!

When we tell people about our adventure first, we got a lot of, “Whoa…. I’m so jealous!  That’s AWESOME!”  When people see the RV first, it’s quite a bit different.  They make some assumptions.  First and foremost, we don’t have a lot of money.  Second, we’re not educated.  Third, I’m not going to go into my politic leanings, but it’s been fascinating being in the red states.  More often than not we get, “Wow.  Aren’t you glad Trump is going to fix X.”  So far X has been the local and state taxes imposed on a community (folks… come on now…. state vs federal… critical thinking), the foreign wars (not clear if he’s going to stop them or ramp them up?!) and something about immigration.  The automatic assumption is that we’re Trump supporters.

Because I know you’re now wondering….  I’m in the no man’s land of politics; I’m fiscally conservative (go Republicans!) and socially liberal (keep fighting Democrats!).  I’m an Independent with strong Libertarian leanings (when they aren’t being off-the-charts nutty).  We’re secretly out here searching desperately for John Galt & crew….

Getting back to the point – it never bothered me when people thought we were rich.  I was quick to correct the assumption, but, in general, I was largely ambivalent.  Now, when strangers are compelled to give us money or help us save 10 cents on a grocery bag by using an EBT card, I feel defensive.  How ridiculous is that?!  Why do I feel anything at all?  I should still be largely ambivalent.  I’m not sure what this says about my values… I’m afraid it might be something vaguely ugly but I can’t quite put my finger on it.  Social conditioning?  Judgmental?  Snobbish?  Gross, man.  I don’t want to be any of that.

By the way, Scott thinks it’s great fun that we get to put on all these roles and people think we’re everything from weird to outrageously lucky to rich and poor; some admire our risk tolerance and others think we deserve pity.   Not many people get to try on all those labels in one lifetime on purpose.  It’s really quite a hoot.  Oh… and thanks for the $20.  We put it in the Fuel Fund… we’ll get approximately 6 miles out of it.  Much appreciated.