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I've Been Kicked Out!
Ok, so everyone knows I've been working on my bus at Scott's house, right? Well, I've finally been kicked out. Not by Scott, though. He's been extremely supportive through this whole thing. I've had nothing but problems with the neighbors in his area. Let me start from the beginning. Scott lives in a cottage in the backyard of a main house and 3 college-age students rent the main house. The guy, Joel, thinks the bus is the coolest thing and he offered to help paint it. One of the girls, Shannon, hates it. She comes up with excuses to have me move it, like she needs to put her car on her side of the garage and the bus is blocking her (she never parks in the garage and she didn't park there during the time she used this excuse). The other girl, Sarah, seems very polite and friendly when I talk to her, but apparently she sides with Shannon behind my back. I have to be nice and friendly and bend over backwards to appease these people because I'm using their property and I don't live there.
Now, whenever Shannon thinks up a reason to have me move my bus, I have to park it somewhere else for about a day or so. Down the street, about 1 block away, there is a section of the block that does not have a house facing that side of the street. I figured I could park there because I was not immediately in front of someone's house, nor was I blocking anyone's parking space. It was totally legal (trust me, I've spent enough time reading vehicle and civil laws because of this, I could be a lawyer!), and I only left it there for less than 72 hours at a time. Here is a diagram to show the layout of the nearby houses:
The yellow is my bus, and the "Front Door" text shows which street the front of the house is facing. So you can see, I'm immediately blocking the view of a fence, under an extremely large tree. I'm only across the street from 2 houses, not in front of anyone and there is tons of parking space on the side of the houses. Now, the 2 neighbors with the arrows are the "problem" neighbors. I also asked permission of the house that owns the tree, under which I park. The very first night, within 2 hours of parking it there, the cops showed up. The officer said they got a call that an abandoned school bus was parked in the middle of the road! Of course, the officer totally agreed that I was well within the 18" limit (I can parallel park that thing better than most of my friends can park their cars). So I showed him my registration to prove it was a motorhome and not a commercial vehicle, abandoned or otherwise. The cop promised to speak with the individual and make him aware of my legality.
The next time I had to park my bus there, the cops were called again! Once again I had to stand in the middle of the street at about 11:00 at night after a hard day's work on the bus and explain that it was totally legal, and show all my paperwork. This time, there were 3 cops that showed up. 2 of them thought this was a neat project and commended me on the job I was doing. The other one had to play "The Enforcer" and make sure I understood the rules about parking and to caution me against parking there again, only to make the neighbors happy. This time, I watched the officer go to the house and explain that all was legal.
The next time, I left a note on my bus window for the cops saying I had all my paperwork and I left my pager number, since it was going to be parked during the day. I also left a note on the asshole's door politely asking to be left alone. Low and behold, I get a call at work from the police department asking about my bus! Once again I explained the legality and made an appointment with the officer to meet and show my paperwork. I also told him that this same neighbor keeps calling on me and it has been explained to him that I'm not breaking the law. He said he would speak to the individual and make sure he understood. I left a note for the neighbor explaining that if he called the cops one more time, I would place a counter-complaint for harrassment and for false accusation, which is a crime in Santa Clara County. I explained that it was against the law to accuse someone of a crime with full knowledge that no crime is being committed and I would not hesitate to haul his ass in jail if he didn't leave me alone (of course, I said it much nicer than that). I then moved my bus back to Scott's house to work on it.
Several weeks later, days after I got my bus working from being stuck in Scott's driveway, Scott's landlord stopped by. Now, he has 2 landlords and one of them had stopped by earlier and saw the bus. He and his girlfriend thought it was the coolest thing! But this other landlord apparently did not. He spoke with Scott at great length outside about what an eyesore it is and how he's getting calls from the neighbors complaining and how the girls say "everyone" in the house wants it gone. Now, keep in mind that it's on private property, so the neighbors have no legal right to complain and Joel thinks it's cool and the girls have never once said to me "hey, this thing is stupid, please don't bring it back". If they had asked me to not bring it there, I would have complied. After all, it is their house, not mine. And I certainly didn't want to get Scott in trouble! In fact, every time Shannon asked me to move it for some piddley little excuse, I dropped what I was doing and moved it, even if it meant I lost an entire day's work. I felt I was being more than generous in my show of respect and courtesy to the people who were lending me their driveway. So anyway, the landlord says move it and hinted that Scott's rent might go up a considerable amount if I didn't. Or they might not even renew his lease (except Scott doesn't have a lease, he's month-by-month), just to scare him into making me move it. It was so overboard! I would have moved it long ago if anyone had bothered to ask me!
So, I'm kicked out. I had to move it to my parents house (with whom I still live), even though they forbid me to ever bring it around at all. I tell you, I'm not feeling very loved or appreciated by this point! My parents don't have the nice long driveway, or even the garage to work in, since we turned the garage into a workshop for my dad. So I'm stuck finishing my bus on the street in front of the house and doing most of my "garage" type of work, like cutting plywood, on the side yard of the house, which is only 8 feet wide with a 3 foot sidewalk and rosebushes on either side.
Well, this has been working out ok for a while, except every other day, my parents ask when I'm moving the bus back to Scott's house. But at least they won't kick me out, they'll just threaten it.
So, one night, about the beginning of July, Scott and I threw a dinner party for some mutual friends. I brought my bus back to Scott's house to show off. Since I drove it there and had no other form of transportation with me, I rationalized that they can't complain if it's my only form of transportation and if I'm leaving again the same night. In order to not piss off the girls in the main house, since it was only about a week after I was told to "get out", I parked the bus in my old spot down the block. This time, the 2 neighbors with the arrows were outside. The one across the street, who kept calling the cops, crossed the street to bitch to the lady next door. As I was shutting down and closing up, they stood there and squawked about how horrible my bus was. Now, there were 2 things I could have done. One is to totally ignore everything they had to say. The other is to sit there and have a shouting match in the middle of the street as to why I was right and they were wrong. I really wanted to do the latter, but I figured if it ever came down to a legal battle, I wanted nothing that could make me look bad to a judge, so I chose the former. As I was leaving, the guy shouted "can't you park that thing somewhere else?" I couldn't resist, I called back "No". He and the woman start shouting out other houses to park in front of as I was walking away from them. I thought they pointed to this one house with a fire hydrant in front, so I yelled back "There's a fire hydrant there. I won't park illegally". So he yells at me very sarcastically "It's good to know you're so legal concience". I had to retort "Of course I am." This entire exchange was said over my shoulder as I walked away from the bus. I didn't even bother to turn around and face him as I spoke to him. It was the only way I could keep my answers as short and civil as possible. Otherwise, I would have torn him a new asshole and shoved his head up the old one! Sorry, I'm a little frustrated at wasting my time with jerks like him.
Anyway, he and the lady neighbor kept yelling out "What about that one?" and "Right there!" as I passed by other houses. I was able to keep my back turned and and hold my peace only by discussing with Scott (who was with me through all this) the plans for the dinner party that night. Boy! Did I want to really let loose on that guy! I mean, all I want to do is get to school! Because of this valley and the radical inflation, I have limited funds to get me across the country. This bus conversion is the cheapest way. Besides, whatever happened to the pride of doing something oneself? Of creating something with your own two hands? Isn't that supposed to be the American work ethic? Oh, I forgot, I live in Silicon Valley where taking pride in our own craftmanship no longer applies. Now we're supposed to be proud of how many gadgets and toys we can afford and the number of blue collar repair people we can hire to fix our toys because we have absolutely no survival skills and we can't even fix a flat tire or change a fuse in the electrical box since it's much easier to pull up the laptop and log onto AAA.com or pacbell.com or mechanics-r-us.com to come to our house and fix everything for us!
Sorry for that little tirade. Well, if it weren't for my friends gushing over how cool the bus was, I would be feeling pretty low right now due to the amazing amount of public backlash I've been getting for my project. You know? I would be proud to say my daughter/sister/neighbor/cousin/what-have-you is putting herself through college and converting an old, dilapidated school bus into a sleek, comforable, working motorhome to get to school with no help from parents and only minimal help from friends' labor. But maybe that's just me.
The Inn Between © 2002