Cujo is doing such a good job with this blog, I might just step back and let him have it!
I have joked a lot about writing a book about owning a campground. A cautionary tale for anyone thinking it would be fun to own a campground. I have compiled a lot of stories from actual events (truth really is stranger than fiction) that have occurred here. Never blogged about some events, as I didn't want to discourage campers from staying here. Why would you want to stay here if I am going to make fun of you? The events I do publish never have names and even if you recognize yourself, you can't be absolutely sure it is you.
That being said, the events that are truly funny or baffling are not what I am talking about. There have some truly disturbing issues that have come up that I have never written about. Some things have to be written down for me to remember them. Some will never be forgotten, no need for a reminder. I can usually find something to laugh about in any situation. Some situations are just deadly serious.
Am I referring to the Corona Virus? If you know me at all, you know that I am fierce when it comes to protecting my family and that I take this virus very seriously.
This past weekend had nothing to do with Covid and I realized at one point that I had totally forgotten to mask up before talking to the sheriff. I don't know when I will publish this, so anyone trying to guess when this happened will not know unless they were participants.
Years ago, over 10, I think, there was a murder here in my campground. It was a cold November afternoon and no one paid much attention at the sound of a shotgun. It was, after all, hunting season. The tenant who killed someone was a squirrely character and funds were low during this particular time in our business. I initially had misgivings about renting to the man. Every instinct told me to send him on his way, but we really needed the money. Winter is hard in this business, making for lean times. The first 5 years were hard, but we have finally made the campground into a profitable business.
It was terrible, a life was lost on my property and there was nothing I could do about it. I will write the entire story one day, but the event that is weighing heavy on my mind is a more recent event. After the murder, I posted a sign on the door of my office prohibiting firearms. I have been told many times that I should have a gun in the office. I joke that my husband forbids me having a gun, because I would use it.
It is a joke, because I don't think I could shoot someone. I have no problem smacking them and the only thing that stops me is knowing they could have me arrested. I just don't know that I could take someone's life, even if it would make the world a better place. I do realize that my sign prohibiting guns is not really a deterrent, just like locked doors only keep honest people out. A lot of my tenants have guns that are legal. They keep them in their campers and don't flash them around.
Living in close quarters, such as a campground can bring out the best and the worst in people. Tempers will flare, words will be spoken and time will heal things. For the most part my tenants are compatible. If you absolutely cannot stand your neighbor, I will work with you to find a solution and move one or the other to another site.
Occasionally there will be a troubled soul who finds it entertaining to annoy everyone around them. Fielding complaints is in my job description and I can handle most things. When I have reached the limits of my ability to deal, I will hand it over to HeWho is too nice or I will simply evict the tenant. This usually happens when you refuse to pay rent.
The incident that occurred was over a trivial matter that never should have escalated to a gun being aimed at someone and then being fired. My long term tenants that have been here for some years are like an extension of my family. They feel free to tell people to slow down and are quick to come to my defense if anyone should think they are above the rules.
For about a week the tenant in question had been working on a vehicle on his site. We do not usually allow this, but his main vehicle had been repossessed and he bought a questionable replacement that arrived on a tow truck. The currant rate of unemployment and hard times for people being laid off has made us relax the rules. But, he didn't even ask if it would be okay. I am not rabid about my rules and regulations and none of my other tenants would presume to simply disregard rules. They would ask me if they could and I would usually say yes or tell them why it was not a good idea.
I allow my seasonal and monthly tenants two camper washes a year, but never on weekends or when the ground is saturated with moisture. Imagine if one started to wash their rig and the park was full and all 75 sites were suddenly turning the water on and washing their campers at once. Monkey see, monkey do.
Bad tenant changed the oil and spark plugs, etc in his new ride and was revving the engine ..... endlessly. This was brought to my attention by more that a few campers. I happened to be outside as he was speeding through the park. I think we all know how I feel about speeding.
I stopped him as he was coming around the corner, going the wrong way on a one way road. The only speeding vehicle in my park better be an ambulance or law enforcement and they better have lights on and a really good reason. This was the second time I told him not to go the wrong way on a one way drive and the speeding was really irritating me. I told him to go on the public road and head down that road if he wanted to run fast, but that I better not witness him speeding again within my park. I could tell he did not like it, my reprimand.
I had experienced a situation with this tenant in the first month he was here. I think he might have a problem with a woman telling him what he can and can't do. That time he blew up and was yelling at me. His wife to-be was with him and he stalked off, leaving her to beg me not to evict them. I remained calm, although I did have to raise my voice to be heard above his tantrum. I simply told him that I made the rules because the park was mine and that if this was a problem he should hitch up and find another place to live.
She told me that he had a hot temper and "when he gets like this, you have to leave him alone until he makes the effort to talk to you again". I looked at this soft spoken woman and with much empathy I warned her to think long and hard before she married this man. I do not tip toe around HeWho loves me, anymore that he does around me. Being fully grown adults, we can talk and work things out if we have a problem.
I was the only one who witnessed what I thought to be bizarre behavior over something that was relatively insignificant. All my friends and fans told me I should give the man another chance. I did and I am sorry that I did not simply follow my instinct that has proven to be pretty much on target (pun intended).
So, it was a cold dreary afternoon, suitable for watching a movie or taking a nap. Phone rang, not mine, but my husband's. If you ever call him, just know that if I am in the room I will hear every word, on speaker or not, he has volume at the maximum level. The caller was pretty upset and I heard gun and shot. We were both up and headed out in seconds. I had my phone already calling 911 as I exited the office. Good tenant had been shot at!! Bad tenant was driving towards office and abandoned his vehicle to run up to my husband screaming that "I didn't do nothing wrong, he attacked me out of nowhere". Literally screaming in such a high pitch I thought a woman was screaming.
Good tenant was walking up the road towards the office. As he got closer, bad tenant started picking up rocks and throwing them at him! This certainly did not support his earlier statement. I was relaying all this to the 911 dispatcher as it was happening. A state trooper arrived at that point and we disconnected the call.
Bad tenant walked to the troopers car like a sulky child and got in the car, as the sheriff and a deputy arrived. They went back and forth, listening to each man tell his story of the incident. I had already decided that bad tenant had to go. He was already late with his rent and considering the fact that his vehicle had been repossessed and that he was self employed, but had not been out to work for the past week as he spent his days revving the engine of the vehicle he bought to replace it, I didn't see any way he was going to be able to pay rent.
While I was pondering this and listening to various eye witnesses tell their stories, good tenant is apologizing to me about the disturbance! This man has a heart of gold. He may lose his temper and yell at someone for doing something stupid, but I couldn't ask for a better tenant. He works around the park and since HeWho had his heart attack, he watches over him like a guardian angel.
Good tenant was anguishing over pressing charges against bad tenant. I learned that, not only did he shoot at him, he actually hit him with the offending vehicle before I watched him throw rocks at him. "He doesn't have the money for bail and it is a bad time to be locked up. I don't want to send him to jail. What should I do?" says good tenant.
I went over to talk to the sheriff. I was told that they could certainly lock up the bad tenant, but would also have to arrest the good tenant. This is where HeWho put a calming hand on my shoulder. He knows me well, as I was about to lose it with the sheriff and tell him he would have to lock me up, too. Seems, according to the law that good tenant broke the law when he stepped onto bad tenant's site and was told to get off "his property". Some domain law. I get it, I really do, but that didn't mean I would sit idly by without expressing my opinion.
My argument is that good tenant trespasses daily when he does the ground maintenance as my agent, working for us. He was in that capacity when he asked bad tenant to stop creating a disturbance. Nobody wants to listen to a revving engine. This is a campground, not an auto repair shop. Sheriff argues back that good tenant should have called me and let me handle it. While I already knew that was true, I still argued with him, as I like a good debate. I wanted to evict the tenant immediately, like hitch that camper up and go right now, but it doesn't work like that. The law is a strange thing sometimes.
I came to a compromise and told the sheriff that the bad tenant could stay as long as they took his firearms away. He agreed and good tenant agreed.
You would think that the story would be over at this point, but you would be wrong. When I was talking to 911, HeWho told bad tenant that he would need to make other living arrangements. We already knew we would just have to take a loss on the rent. You can't get blood out of a turnip.
We let things cool down for a few days. It rubbed me wrong that he was sucking up my electricity and there was nothing I could do about it, short of filing for an eviction process that could take months. I finally decided to tell bad tenant that he could pay the money he owed me to stay until the end of his month, or he could leave in two days and not pay anything. Of course he chose option two. Who wouldn't? Why would anyone want to stay in a close knit community where you had acted like a fool in front of everyone?
So, it was settled and life could get back to normal. Yes, but no. I was settled under some canines, all cozy with a throw warming my toes. Went on Facebook where I can see pictures of my children and grandchildren and old friends and new friends. Totally unaware of the post I was about to see. I had accepted a friend request awhile back from bad tenant.
He had the foresight to unfriend all the others in the park, but must have forgotten about me. I read a totally different version of events in amazement. He said he had been spending a quiet afternoon with his son when "out of nowhere" his neighbor attacked him. Said he was afraid for his life, so he got his gun and shot into the air.
I went on to read the comments of his friends and his responses to them. One should always remember that social media is a public forum, there for all to see with no expectation of privacy. In other words, don't air your dirty laundry in public. One of his friends asked about the safety of his son and he responded that he was okay, but scared. He described the "assault" as happening inside the camper in one statement. He described his assailant in ways that would make him to be a giant of a man with a threatening demeaner.
Another of his friends advised that he should have shot to kill and then claimed self defense. Another friend suggested that he should have run over him with his revving vehicle. They sounded like good citizens. One asked if the offender was "on something", suggesting meth. This must have seemed like a good idea to bad tenant who readily agreed that this must be the case. So now they have a giant in a meth induced rage that for no reason decided to come into the camper and attack man and child, and he was simply defending himself and his son.
Then he did the unthinkable and NAMED good tenant! I was outraged as I read the entire passage aloud to HeWho. "You need to respond and set the record straight, that ain't right!" I did not respond. I didn't want to bring attention to myself and the fact that he must have forgotten to block me when he blocked everyone else. How else could I spy on him?
He did block me after that, so did his wife. Yes, she did marry him in an extravagant trip to Florida, partially funded by my rent money. Another example of poor decision making on his part. Her decision to marry an unstable man says a lot about her.
They need to watch more TV! Like Law and Order and Judge Judy! Does he not realize that statements made on social media are admissable in court?
Another thing he must be unaware of is that people in the same line of business talk to each other. I had heard he would be moving to another park in this county, but farther away than my competitor right across the highway. I had failed to warn her, as I had always warned the previous owner and she warned me. I called her and we chatted about her new tenant. She admitted that she knew she should have called me before letting him move to her park. He was due that very day.
Moving day was not uneventful. Bad tenant had sent a text to HeWho, informing him that they planned to be out of their site by 5pm. He went on to say that they just wanted to move peacefully and hoped that their wishes would be respected. Respected, indeed! He must have known better than to send that text to me! I may not have a gun, but I do have a shovel. In this time of Covid it is important to have a weapon that respects the 6 feet apart needed for safety!
The first trip out pulling the camper happened without incident. Well, other than revealing the ELECTRIC HEATER he had OUTSIDE underneath the camper. On my dime, or as it turns out a $400 electric bill for just his site! This means that in addition to not paying the rent due at $510, he also increased my power bill. The site he occupied was a premium site on a concrete pad with shade and a very large lot. His rent per month was $550. I allow sheds on long term sites as long as they aren't ramshackle. He had a tent shed and a hot tub that he decided to put up on his site WITHOUT PERMISSION.
I will need to have another chat with his new landlord. It has been brought to my attention that his camper is bereft of plumbing and is not set up for the propane heater. Just because I was ripped off doesn't mean she has to be.
Upon returning for the remainder of his belongings, the revving started up again. So, for the remainder of daylight HeWho sat in his truck and watched the activity until they left. They over-estimated their ability to move within the time frame and had to return the next day for what was left.
In the meantime, HeWho's truck tire suffered a puncture by a screw driver. Can't prove it, but bad tenant is the only one with a grudge and his child like behavior from before points to him. He is still too close for comfort.