RV Travel recently posted a poll asking RVers if they would let a stranger use their RV bathroom. 85% resoundingly said no or most likely not! Only 15% said most likely, and 1% said yes. [figures rounded]
Personally, I had a hard time when I took the poll. It was somewhat of a moral dilemma for me. Would I do what I think is right or what I want? The right answer for me would be to allow a stranger in need to come in (with my big, tall, strong husband in the RV, too). But what I want is definitely no stranger in my RV’s bathroom! I am not even fond of my kids and grandkids using the bathroom.
But beyond the issue of right or wrong or what I want, there is the bigger question of trust or distrust. Comments under the poll confirmed that. It brought to mind how things have changed with fear, anger, and distrust.
Forty years ago I happily picked up hitchhikers and even hitched a few times myself. I made some lifelong friends. Today, I wouldn’t consider picking someone up on the side of the road. I certainly don’t have the stamina or trust to stand on the side of the road believing in strangers to help. Thank goodness, I don’t need to.
When did it change? When did we start locking our doors and windows? And when did Ring Doorbells become a multi-million dollar business? A lot of people say it was Covid. I think Covid and the constant reminder of division have contributed to the anger, but I believe the fear and distrust came earlier.
When did we quit entertaining strangers and welcoming the homeless and hungry to our table? My husband welcomes the stranger much better than I do. We are campground hosts in Minnesota. It is a huge wooded county park near the city. We have seen changes these last few years since Covid with domestic disturbances, unpaid stealth camping and particularly increasing numbers of the unhoused being escorted out of the park.
Last year, a young homeless man was wandering the park, frightening the campers and concerning the office staff. My husband invited him to our picnic table to talk, to rest. The office staff brought their lunches for him to eat. The young man broke down. He’d had a fight with his family and left with just a backpack and some clothes. Turns out he had gone to high school with our son. I would like to say there was a happy ending, but I don’t know what the ending was. I do know that he felt a few moments of relief and care before moving on.
Years ago my husband even invited a man who was living in a van and doing odd jobs to stay in our basement for a while. It was not easy for me. He needed more than a dozen showers and new clothes. We can laugh about “Larry” now and how we knew where he was by the “Larry” smell. It was grace that he taught us … taught me.
My husband would have been part of the 1% in the poll and answered “yes”. I had to push myself to say “most likely”. I have the same concerns as others about safety and violence. The daily media spews reports of violence and murder. I lock the door when we take even a short walk in the park. I lock the bay doors up tight when gone overnight and never leave my phone or iPad outside.
We have RVed for more than 30 years and I have seen in the last few years that people in RV parks are just not quite as friendly and open as they used to be. They are more suspicious, more judgmental, and more easily angered. I see it in impatience in the campground office, anger when a favorite site isn’t available, attitudes toward fellow campers and even the comments on social media.
But in spite of everything, there are still those who stop by our campfire in the evenings, sit a spell, and share their lives. I will gladly share our lives and our RV’s bathroom with them, too.