I left Northern California with so much joy to give and tea to share with people. I arrived Ashland and served tea all afternoon in the park after getting some tea donations from Eco Teas and Adelante! Gallery and Tea House. Great people, all day. When it came time to head over to the Elephant Revival show at Adelante, I was jazzed at the trip so far.
The next morning was tainted by the news of the death of a friend. I picked back up a couple ridesharers/hitch-hikers I had brought with me from California the day before. One was a super energetic Englishman who had been working and traveling around the world for two years. Fun! The other one was a hitch-hiker, we’ll call him Jesse, who had expensive electronics one of his friends had lifted from cars in nice neighborhoods. As our day progressed we picked up more and more hitch-hikers until there were eight of us and a puppy in the bus. As per usual, when all was said and done, my bus was left with trash, empty bottles, and food smeared in the floor.
Jesse seamed nice enough to start with, despite being cool with his buddy stealing electronics from people. But as the trip wore on, he seamed, just like many of the other hitch-hikers, to be so dependent on the idea that he needed to receive. Everyone seemed like they spanged (spare-changed) and food-stamped their way about the country. It was hard for me to want to help Jesse as he spanged outside of grocery stores I shopped at; as he tried to sell his stolen Ipod Touch; as he asked for my help to get him into the fair through my connections. He only asked, never gave. It made it hard for me to want to leave him in my bus alone as I entered a hardware store right after he told me about all the gear he jacked from Fred Myer. He was having a hard time making things flow all day. I’m not here to judge, but my observation is this: If his attitude had been to share and give, people would give him back plenty, but because he was only there to receive he had a hard time getting the things he needed. (EDIT: In fact, as the Fair ended he showed back up at my bus asking for tea with the news that his backpack had been stolen. When he left, a friend said, “karma’s a bitch.”)
On another note, I do believe that young folks should be helped along the way in their travels. It is so important to travel when you’re young in order to get a broader worldview. So many people have helped me in my journeys of discovery that I will always try to help out a fellow traveler, especially young folks. Yet, I feel like many people have come to take this generosity for granted, and even worse, expect it. Again, those expectations make it hard on travelers and the people they come into contact with.
Why, I ask, is it that so many travelers act in these ways? Why has the nomadic culture been co-opted into a culture that often doesn’t have respect for self or for others. For decades there has been a distinction among train-riders between a bum, a tramp, and a hobo. A bum neither works nor travels. A Tamp travels but doesn’t work. And a Hobo works to travel and travels to work. Hoboes were known to clean up when they could and carry “glad rags” or clean clothes with them as they traveled to increase their chances of finding work. They even had their own “Hobo Code,” which acted as a set of guidelines, mostly to encourage respect amongst hoboes and the people and places they came into contact with. I imagine that even though times were tough, hoboes had it easier.
I’d like to put a call out to all nomads to begin taking control of their lives, to begin living with the purpose of giving, and not only will the people and places they come into contact with be grateful, but they themselves will benefit from a life filled with abundance.
This brings me to Oregon Country Fair. I have come with the purpose of giving, but everywhere I look people just want to make money and not allow me to give. One campground denied me (to serve tea) because I “needed a permit,” but when I asked if a camper was allowed to invite their neighbor over for lunch and they said yes, I asked what the difference was. They couldn’t tell me the difference, only that I couldn’t share tea with my neighbors. I was depressed enough about my friend’s death, and all the money, money, money that people wanted for me to camp with my bus, that I began to cry. I couldn’t get my bus into the fair, into a campground that would allow me to serve tea. I felt like I shouldn’t have even brought the bus, or come at all. God damn it, why can’t I just provide a service, a genuine service without people wanting money or being afraid of the county shutting them down because I don’t have a permit?
How does it make me feel when someone just flat out says no, or wants money from me to do my thing? It makes me feel hopeless. It makes me feel like the world doesn’t want to change for the better. It makes me cry.
I feel like festivals are not the way to go with this. There is so much bureaucracy, so much insurance worry, so much money, so much to get in the way of serving tea.
I finally found my way to a cheap campground, right next to the entrance of the fair. I have a decent spot. I have hope that the fair can end up well for the tea bus. We’ll see…