Short Stories From Eight Months in Our Van
It's kind of hard to believe that we've been living in our van for eight months. In some ways, it seems like we just moved in and in other ways, it feels like we've been living in it forever. I'm not going to pretend that I have loads of exciting stories to tell you, but I thought I'd share a few anyway.
Van Tour Woes
Before we moved into the van we talked about that fact that random people may realize the van is converted and ask for a tour. You'd think that thought would motivate us to keep the van spick-and-span just in case, but when we get busy things get thrown around and before we know it the van's a disaster and it usually stays that way for awhile. Well, one day I was walking back to the van after work and one of my coworkers was in the parking lot and asked if she could see inside the van. If she had asked pretty casually I would have put her off, but she begged and I hate saying no so I dutifully took her to the van for a tour and of course, it was an absolute disaster. I stepped into the van first and had just enough time to toss my work bag into the sink to cover a pee bottle that was sitting there (yes, we sometimes pee in bottles at night because we don't have a bathroom and don't worry, the lid was on). I don't think she noticed but who knows. She slowly looked around at our rumpled bed, clothes on the floor, food and trash on the counter and was like, "This is... nice." I'm pretty sure she's never thought about me the same way. Then, just last week Justin was outside working on the van in the hospital parking lot when this guy walked up and started chatting. He said he was an operating room nurse who also owned a Sprinter van that he and his wife were converting into a weekend camper. Well, our van was a total disaster so I definitely didn't want to give this guy a tour and so when I spied him walking towards us across the parking lot I quickly closed all the curtains and quietly laid down on the bed so he wouldn't notice someone was moving around inside. I was hoping Justin would tell the guy that he wished he could give him a tour but couldn't because his wife had worked a night shift and was asleep in the van. However, about ten minutes later Justin opened the door and proceeded to give the guy a tour while I pretended to do stuff on the computer. I was so embarrassed. After the guy left Justin said he had been stalling the guy outside because he assumed I'd closed the curtains to get stuff cleaned up while they chatted. Next time...
Security Pays Us a Visit
About a month or two after we moved into the van, hospital security paid us a visit since we'd been spending every night in the hospital parking lot and they'd taken notice. It was close to 11:00 pm and we were lying in bed watching TV when suddenly someone started banging on the side of the van saying, "Hello! Security!" We were in our pajamas and got super flustered. I started frantically whispering, "Put on your scrubs so he'll see you work here! Hurry! Hurry!" Then I laid down and pulled the covers over my head because I had no intention of answering the door with him. Poor Justin. Anyways, the scrubs did the trick because when he opened the door the security guy was like, "Oh, do you work here?" Then he and Justin introduced themselves to each other and chatted about what we did at the hospital. He told Justin that they had noticed the van and didn't recognize the parking tag so wanted to check things out. We were given the parking tag by the hospital so I don't know about that, but I do get why they wanted to suss things out. After a few more minutes he wished Justin goodnight and said, "We (security) won't hassle you anymore" and they've been good on their word. They've never knocked again or left notes and they drive by our van doing rounds on a daily basis. Can't tell you how grateful we are that they've been so chill about the whole thing. We've decided that we're like a reality TV show for them. We imagine that they sit around watching the feed from the parking lot cameras to see what we'll do next and then talk about it with their buddies.
An Angel Returns Our Keys
When we moved into the van we got a UPS mailbox for which we were provided a single key. One morning I took our other vehicle to the UPS store to pick up the mail and apparently dropped the key somewhere in the hospital parking lot when I returned to the van. I didn't realize it was missing though until that evening when Justin got home and decided to move the van. When he climbed into the driver's seat he noticed something was tucked under one of the windshield wipers and upon further investigation discovered it was our mailbox key. Now you might be thinking that one of our co-workers found the key and recognized our van, but here's the thing: there's absolutely nothing on the key identifying us as the owners. No name, just a tag that says "UPS." Maybe you're thinking one of our co-workers saw it was a UPS key and couldn't think of anyone else who would have one but us. Perhaps, but it seems like a bit of a stretch and that if you weren't sure of who it belonged to you'd take it to lost and found. Maybe you're thinking someone saw me drop it and then get in the van, but then why not say something or knock? Think what you will, but I'm choosing to believe an angel returned it so we didn't have to get a new key and pay the hefty lost key fine.
My Co-Workers Feel Safe
Sometimes I wonder what our colleagues really think about the fact that we live in the hospital parking lot. Something that's surprised me is recently I've had multiple female co-workers tell me that it makes them feel safer walking back to their cars at night when they see us in the parking lot. They all say that they feel like should something happen and they started to scream for help, we would hear them and come to their rescue. A couple of weeks ago, after a co-worker explained how she feels safer I responded, "I don't know. I'm a pretty deep sleeper." When I told Justin that evening he was like, "Why did you say that?!?" To be honest so she doesn't develop a false sense of security and I feel responsible if something happens? That sounds good but it actually just kind of came out without much thought. Oops. She didn't seem at all dissuaded though and said that even if I was a deep sleeper, I'd wake up to someone screaming my name which is what she would be doing. Glad to be of help even if it's purely theoretical :)
Clinic Security Hassles Us
Okay, hassled is probably too strong of a word, but it felt like it at the time. A number of months ago Justin and I drove the van down to his clinic on a Sunday so he could finish some notes using the clinic's dictation software. I didn't want to sit around the clinic so I laid down in the van with a book to have a read. About 20 minutes later I heard a car pull up and two people started banging on the side of the van announcing that they were security. Since Justin is the one who works at the clinic I didn't want to answer the door so I texted him and asked him to come out. Now security moved to the back doors and started banging and hollering and then repeated the whole thing on the other side of the van. When Justin didn't text back immediately and security started to sound more aggressive I thought maybe I should call him but I didn't want them to hear me and realize someone was inside and was just ignoring them! Suddenly they stopped and I heard someone saying, "Hey, leave that van alone! That belongs to one of our residents!" It was one of the clinic's faculty members who recognized the van and came to our rescue - thank you Dr. Burns! Then Justin showed up and they all chatted and security said they didn't think the van looked like it belonged at the clinic so they came to investigate. I get it (and thank you security for doing your job), but it has parking tags for the clinic's parking lot! Anyways, the moral of the story is that I freak out anytime someone knocks on the van so I don't know what I'm going to do if it's ever the police and I have to answer!
I Get the Van Stuck
The other day I took the van to a salon to get my hair cut. The only place to park was in a long narrow lot behind the salon, but there were hardly any cars so the fact that it was narrow didn't seem like a big deal. Our van is a Sprinter and they have three lengths. We have the one in the middle, so not super long but still 19.5 feet (5.9 meters) which is a lot different to maneuver than your average car. Anyways, I get my hair cut and trot back out to the van to discover that I've been boxed in during my 30 minutes inside. Cars on both sides and one parked directly behind me. Since the van is our house, the easy solution would have been to just climb into the back and wait things out in comfort, but I had things to do and places to go. Thus began the agonizing task of trying to inch my way out. What really fudged me up though was that anytime I started to work my way out, someone would come walking through the parking lot and I'd feel embarrassed and pull back into my spot so they wouldn't see my painful exit, or another car would pull in and I'd be blocking them and have to pull back into my spot because I wasn't sure how long it would take to get out. So basically, any time I started to make some progress, a car or person would show up and I'd pull in and be back to ground zero. By the time I finally managed to work myself free with a 12 point turn (or something like that) I was all sweaty and frantic and swearing to never drive the Sprinter again. I'm pretty sure I was back to driving it the next day though and it's remained my primary vehicle.