Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We were parking over night at a casino in Las Vegas with a group of friends. We were all headed across the parking area where other RVs were parked when a man came out of his trailer and said we were trespassing on his property.
At first we thought he was kidding, but as it turned out he was very serious. Obviously, in his mind, this patch of the casino parking lot was his property and we were trespassing.
On our way back he came out to talk to us as if the first confrontation never took place. This frightened me, but everyone else just laughed it off. I was a bit nervous the rest of the night.
Do you think I am being silly?
This is not normal behavior and I think living for a short period just feet from someone with a Jekyll and Hyde personality is a bit disconcerting.
--Nervous Nelly in Nevada
There is nothing wrong with being cautious in all traveling situations. It is not uncommon to run into people with issues, especially in free camping areas. There are many people living on the fringe, many in RVs, that suffer from psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, and various addictions.
I think in most cases the right approach would be courtesy, compassion and caution.
Everyone has their own threshold for patience and comfort levels in these types of encounters. If you find you are not comfortable then don’t encourage conversation, keep interactions at a minimum, or simply move on.
To paraphrase John Bradford, "There, but for the grace of God, go I." That said, you still have to determine for yourself what is provocation and what is annoyance. If you feel threatened, move on.
During a normal year on the road, camping in all types of areas, remote and urban, we have encountered a situation similar to this just a few times.
Seldom are we forced to share a site with another camper, but recently at a Corps of Engineers park in Florida we could only book a combined site. As it turned out, we shared this site with a guy living in his van.
I went over, shook his hand and introduced myself as his new neighbor. He seemed as normal as me, which should have been my first clue. Soon we noticed he was talking loud to someone in a very angry voice. At first we thought he must have an ear-bud phone and he was arguing on the phone with someone. Soon we realized he was talking to himself about us. He was very polite when we talked to him, but the voice in his head was not happy sharing a site with us.
As it turned out the voice won and he moved on, but first he knocked on our door and asked if we needed anything at the store. He was going into town shopping and would be glad to pick up whatever we needed. When I told him we were all set, he started rattling off items he thought we might need...steaks, beer... I’m not sure if he or the voice wanted our money. Then he never returned.
When I talk about caution, it is not only these types of situations you have to be concerned with. RVing or not, there are people out there that want to scam you and I’m not just talking about your cell provider and your insurance company. This winter at a Yuma, AZ casino, Rvers were scammed in a “Three Card Monte” game set up by men in the free parking area. Your odds are bad enough if you go inside, why play in the parking lot!
Ninety percent of the time, free casino parking is only free if you “DON’T” go inside. If you do, you had better read the Wizard of Odds, so you know which of the sucker games are going to drain your pockets the most efficiently.
Let common sense be your guide and you should be just fine.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink