The Gifted Underachiever

My life so far

I live in an RV down at the flea market

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Even if I were a motivational speaker, I doubt seriously if I’d ever use the phrase “I live in an RV down at the flea market,” even though it is the truth. I just don’t envision there ever being a situation that would call for that declaration.Let me do some explaining here.

You may already be aware of my current situation, which is, my family current resides in our home in Florida. Yours truly currently works in Louisiana, a situation that occurred a year ago when I accepted a position in my home state. A good position, mind you, which is why 700 miles separate me from my loved ones. But now I’m wondering just how good any position or situation is when one forgoes a year in the life of a child or a marriage, for that matter. It’s meant sacrifices on both ends, but neither of us are calling for measurements. We’re just enduring until that wonderful day of reunion, and praying fervently for a speedy calendar.

Now, how did I get to be in an RV in a flea market? It’s not really a funny story, just a funny outcome. My late wife’s mother graciously offered me temporary quarters in her home until we sold our house and relocated the family. Of course, everyone assumed that by school start we would be firmly ensconced in our new home.


A year later and the situation has changed little, except the asking price on the home has tracked inversely with the price of gasoline, and we view the former in the same light as the latter.

It was a mutual agreement that I seek temporary quarters elsewhere. A year of hospitality is a lot to ask anyone, and even worse when it’s not even asked, which is how I felt the situation to be. So I began my quest to seek a less intrusive residence without incurring high monthly rent, a neat feat to be sure.

The go-to person in such matters is my sister-in-law, Marilyn. She and her husband manage the Jockey Lot Flea Market in Upper Lafayette (that’s North Lafayette to you old-timers who remember). She knows the ins and outs of the way things happen in the area, so when I shared my idea of finding a camper trailer to live in for the time being I saw the wheels begin to turn.

The very next day she called to say that she had an RV that she would let me use for as long as I wanted. How could I say no? I couldn’t. But I did have to find a place to keep it, and that in itself was a tall order. So, I put the word out to some other friends about finding trailer space for long-term, hopefully short-term, parking of an RV. I scored a lot about 15 miles down the interstate, not the best situation but a solution nonetheless.

But Marilyn was as quick on the draw and offered another too-good-to-pass solution: keep the RV parked at the flea market. The hookups are already there and the monthly fees for utilities would be nominal. Hmmm. Flea market’s only opened weekends. I’d have complete solitude through the week, and then had the option to mill with the public Saturday and Sunday, if I chose to do so.

It’s the one on the left.So here I sit with roughly half my stuff in an RV at the flea market. I say half my stuff because that’s all that would fit. RVs are like European apartments. They have a place for everything and everything is already in its place. Therefore, finding room for my stuff has become a lesson in necessities. Do I really need 8 pairs of shorts or 14 t-shirts. Four pair of dress slacks, six shirts and a couple of pair of blue jeans seem to fit the wardrobe bill completely. I kept a suit out for weddings and funerals, but from what I’ve witnessed at both recently is that I would be mistakened for either the minister or the mortician. Formality is not what it used to be, but I’m old-fashioned that way.

Cute little sink, cute little stove, tidy refrigerator (still can’t tell if it works; beer feels warm) and spartan but seemingly-functional bathroom. For those interested e-mail me and I’ll fill you in on my bathroom review personally.

Four days in

When I moved in I was warned that there was no hot water yet, but it would be installed the next day. Imagine my surprise when I braced myself for a cold shower that I felt a sudden warmth embrace me. It was so comforting that I didn’t even realize how confining the shower was. First off, there’s a bar going across the top of the shower, apparently something on which to hang wet clothes to dry. The bar is exactly 5′ 10-1/2″ from the bottom of the shower. How do I know? I’m 5′ 10-3/4″. You do the math.

I found it’s a good idea to presoap the washcloth before entering the shower. If you try it in the shower the soap may slip from your hands. If that happens, unless you have amazingly prehensile toes, just give up. There’s no way you’re going to bend yourself in any position to retrieve something from the shower floor. Believe me, I tried, and I got the empty Advil bottle to prove it.

Warning: the base of the shower is about 6″ higher than the floor. Exiting the shower is a lesson in ice driving. You ask yourself, “Is the floor slippery,” because you’re about to step out and away from the shower with one foot in and the other treading cautiously toward the bathroom floor. Sure, I could hold on to that top bar, but I’m out of Advil at this particular point. No real serious slippage problems yet, but I’ve only been there four days.

I love to cook. I have a pantry full of groceries right now, and that’s not saying a lot. A box of saltines, jar of garlic powder and a half-bag of coffee fills up the pantry in here. I smushed some stuff up to get a little more in there. So I dragged out the pots and pans one evening with my cutting board, garlic and sharpened Santoku ready for action. Alas, no flame on the stove. I don’t know if it’s out of propane or a valve is not opened, but I’m not taking the chance. Back to the store to stock the freezer with microwaveable items.

The dining table is, well, non-existent. I mean, I see what looks to be the top of a dining table, but I have no idea where it would fit. The wooden cutting board serves well as an ersatz dinner tray.

Louisiana summers can be brutal, and we’re not fully into summer yet. So, I prayed that whatever air conditioning was available was sufficient to condition air in an agreeable manner. Funny how some prayers are answered while others go wanting. There are two AC units in this vehicle, and both operate as if just serviced. It took me one evening to discover the optimum settings. The first night I turned off the unit in the living area and kept the bedroom on low. The next evening, after my joints had defrosted during the day, I set the living room unit to low and turned off the bedroom.

There are no “easy chairs,” per se, but I’ve found a comfortable place to nest in easy reach of the TV (no cable), front door and kitchen, all without leaving my seat.

I’m not going to bore you on life in an RV in coming weeks, but I’m sure it’ll seep into my life narrative at some points. Bear with me like I’m bearing with this.

And if you do have a need for a motivational speaker with unusual living conditions just drop me a line.

Iron Chef territory
The living room
The master suite
The WC

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