Tales of a 21st Century Gypsy

October 20, 2003. Meeting the rest of the USA.

The van saga continues. The mechanic in Richmond thought it was okay, but there are problems with the refrigerator. Iím considering flying to Wisconsin to look at a van there. I found a lovely relaxed mechanic out there, whom I had a really nice talk with on the phone. The first thing he said to me was that he just wasnít following me, because I talked too fast. So I had to make myself slow down.

Everyone Iíve talked to in Wisconsin has been so nice. The mechanic was great. I spoke to someone at DMV, he was chatty and funny and eventually even asked me what kind of vehicle I was considering, that I would be willing to go to Wisconsin to buy it. I even emailed a collegue in Madison, whom I met at a few conferences and brazenly asked him if he could put me up in Madison, and even drive the van to the mechanic to get it checked out. He said yes! Maybe this is part of getting to know what the rest of the country is like? Out of the fast lane, where car mechanics and DMV staffers are chatty instead of sullen, and people seem to want to be helpful.

My plans to move into a van and see the USA seem to have defined me as ďnot seriousĒ in the eyes of most people I know in New Jersey. A few have said that they think itís great, and maybe one or two even mean it, but I think for most of them it simply means Iím no longer a player in their world, so I donít matter. I really donít have much in the way of friends here Ė my ďfriendsĒ are work contacts, and even with Suzanne itís sure handy that she can help me track information at DEP.

I wonder whether I can interact with people in other ways. Maybe thatís not how most of the US is, I donít know. Is the northeast really so much faster paced than the rest of the country? Are we really less relaxed, or more driven, or more concerned about what you do and whether youíre an important contact? I really do feel that here in New Jersey I only know people as contacts, and nothing else. I never realized it until I met Mike and Fayez, and talked to people in Wisconsin.

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