Posts tagged "#TruckProblems"

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Source: Cloud from WikiClipArt, truck from, you guessed it, Clker

I don't think it rained once when I interned in the Bay in 2014. The summer of 2014, to be specific. Doing a bit of overzealous extrapolation, I came to the incorrect conclusion that it never rains in the Bay, which sounded just splendid to me. Before I moved out here to start a full-time job in 2015, I donated my boots, raincoat, and any umbrellas I had. When I actually got here and bought the truck, I didn't even bother checking for leaks. You can tell where this is going, and anyone from the area knows that I made a grave miscalculation. I found this out the hard way during my first winter here.

If you look at the climate data for the area (which I clearly hadn't), it averages a meager ~0.75 inches of rain over the entirety of May, June, July, August, and September, as my 2014 observations suggested. Much to my chagrin, the weather swiftly turns from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde around October, dropping more rain than the preceding five months (0.85 inches) combined. It doubles down in November and drops twice as much (1.83 inches). It drops that, plus another half inch in December (2.3 inches), and ups the ante another inch for January and February (3.2 inches each). Which leads me to my inspiration for this post: just prior to writing this, it rained for nearly two straight weeks.

Dealing with Mrs. Nature

I have a love-hate relationship with rain. On one hand, it's great not living in an arid wasteland, and the Bay needs all the water it can get. On the other hand, the rain definitely makes my life more challenging. Not only does a gentle drizzle on the box truck roof sound like a safe full of silverware tumbling down an infinite escalator, but my truck isn't exactly waterproof either. Basically, the rain and I are in a nuclear arms race, and I'm definitely losing.

A History of Failed Solutions

When I encountered my first real leak, jury-rigging a pipe and a bucket to divert the water was sufficient. But like a sinking ship in an old cartoon, more leaks quickly sprung up, and I needed to be more proactive in my game of fluid fisticuffs. So I fixed part of the problem, and the leaks lessened. But my Band-Aids were no match for a through-and-through downpour, forcing me to resort to strategically-placed trash bags to contain the current. After attempting to track down the leaks, I went back on the offensive and slathered some marine sealant around what I thought were the problem areas. And up to a certain amount of rain, trash bags and a bit of active leak mitigation actually isn't that bad of a solution. But when it rains for two weeks straight, a few problems start to creep up:

  1. The garbage bags start to accumulate a lot of water.
  2. That aforementioned water evaporates during the day and the truck turns into a weird, damp, Humid Truck Swamp™.

An Inflection Point

The Humid Truck Swamp is more of a nuisance than a real issue, but the whole premise of living in a truck was that I thought I could do it without sacrificing any of my happiness. And there was no sense in trying to spin it, I found this unpleasant.

I've talked about when would be a good time to call it quits, and if I were a slightly more reasonable person, I very well may have decided that this was that time. Maybe the truck isn't actually worth all of this effort. But my skull is a bit thicker than average and deep down, I do legitimately enjoy trying to tackle these kinds of problems. So instead of selling the truck and being normal for a change, I did what any serial sadist would do, and just moved to a more elaborate crutch, pictured here:

Opposing top front corners of the box, looking like a scene from a Breaking Bad knockoff. The Shrek-snot insulation also makes a cameo.

I know, it's looking pretty grim in there. Like, next-level truck dungeon grim. In case it's not obvious what's going on: instead of letting the leaks drip directly into a trash bag, now they drip into an extremely jankily-placed funnel, secured by several feet of extra strong duct tape. The funnel is inserted into a few feet of plastic hosing, which, in turn, is fastened to trash bags of varying sizes by an ever-increasing amount of duct tape. This solves the humidity problem because the surface area for the water to evaporate from is now far, far smaller. I set this up a few weeks ago, and it's actually worked surprisingly well.

Ending the Arms Race

It's painfully obvious at this point that I'm reaching the limits of my mechanical capabilities in this fight. I can't keep relying on ever-more complicated crutches. Further, I have to be careful to not let myself normalize these terrible hacks, lest I end up with an unacceptably low or even hazardous standard of living. This was my line in the sand: It was time to actually fix the underlying problem. Accordingly, I brought the truck into a body shop to get a quote, and I'm hoping to have the box repaired in the next week or so, ending the arms race and allowing me to focus on actual truck improvements.

I'm not sure if there are any good lessons to be learned here. Seven months out of the year, this isn't even a problem, and I'm rapidly on the way to rectifying those other five months. Looking back on it all, I'm actually glad it rains here sometimes. Aside from the obvious environmental problems of not having any rain, it forced me to think outside the box, hone my duct tape-fu, and in the end, make some real, permanent improvements to my home. Plus, how could I appreciate the sunshine without a bit of rain?

Before I say anything else, let me be clear: this isn't me making up some spooky story, this actually happened to me this morning, Monday August 1st, at 6 am.

I had a series of strange dreams about spies and nuclear war last night. Pretty dramatic, but I have weird dreams all the time. The problem is that things got weirder after I woke up. First, I noticed a bitter taste in my mouth that I have no explanation for. I ate nothing strange last night and washed up using the same products I've been using for as long as I care to remember. That's not a big deal though. What is a big deal is this:

In case it's hard to tell, that's a muddied footprint on my sunroof, which I had installed a few months ago. Half-awake, I wanted to think it was literally anything else. Maybe a bird had dropped a fish or something and it had left that mark. Maybe it was just the imprint of a weird leaf. Highly unlikely (bordering on nonsensical), but I really desperately wanted to believe it wasn't a footprint. Unfortunately, I walked outside and proceeded to find this:


I took pictures like I was cataloging a damned crime scene, because I practically was.

Unfortunately, that confirms my fears pretty concretely. Someone left a trail of hand and footprints as they climbed their way onto the roof of the truck while I was sleeping last night. It's also pretty obvious that I desperately need to wash the truck, but I'm glad I didn't in this one specific instance, because if the truck was clean, the footprints wouldn't have been so visible.

Searching For Answers

I don't remember much out of the ordinary from last night. Sounds from cars leaving a nearby concert, maybe some kids hanging around and talking. The strangest thing I heard was a cop talking to someone and asking what they were doing. I don't know if the person was in a car or not, but the cop asked them for their license. They were slow to respond and seemed confused. I don't remember much else because I was half asleep, but I've never heard of cops hanging around this area, so it's pretty curious that they were there in the first place. While I was taking the above pictures, I noticed a man standing next to his car maybe 50 feet away. I asked him if he saw anything, but he didn't speak much English. I showed him the footprints on the truck and motioned to my feet to try to convey what had happened. He showed me the bottom of his shoes (which had a totally different pattern than the marks on the truck) and said he didn't know anything. Oh, and I checked all of my own shoes to see if the pattern matched, in case I had been sleep-walking or something (couldn't rule anything out). As expected, no match there either.

And that's all I have, leaving me with far more questions than answers. First and foremost:

How the hell did I not wake up? I didn't have ear plugs in and I'm a pretty light sleeper. Usually a person talking or a gust of wind is enough to stir me into something nearing consciousness. The movement of someone jumping onto the truck and walking directly above me should have woken me up, and the truck must have groaned and creaked loudly when they got onto the roof, which isn't meant to support anything nearing the weight of a person.

Why did they leave a footprint on the sunroof too? They couldn't have possibly stood on it, it's slippery, slanted, and has small plastic pieces that would have broken trying to support their weight. That means (barring any better explanations that escape me) they pressed their foot against the sunroof just to leave the print. If I hadn't seen that one, it's unlikely I'd have found the other footprints on the hood and cab.

And what were they even doing up there? Were they watching me sleep? Were they looking for something? I don't even know what they would have seen looking down into the truck. I was sleeping directly under the sunroof and I get the heebie-jeebies thinking about waking up in the middle of the night to see someone looking down at me. I'm not even sure if they'd be able to see me, there's no light in the truck and very little coming in from outside, most of which they'd be blocking with their body, plus the sunroof has a pretty heavy tint on it. Unless they had a flashlight, I don't know if they'd have seen much. I couldn't get any pictures of the roof, because I was unwilling to climb up there myself, but I did pull myself up so I could peek onto the roof. I didn't see any footprints towards the back, so they didn't walk around once they were up there. Maybe it was just some bored kid with a short attention span trying to get a better vantage point. Maybe they were looking for something to steal, and were trying to "case" the truck. If they were, I have bad news for them: I don't really have anything of value in there. In fact, if I came back to the truck to find every single thing missing, it'd hardly change my plans for the day.

I feel like I'm in the world's worst rendition of Cinderella, where the glass slipper has been replaced with a muddy sneaker print, and my Cinderella is a creepy dude who watches people in the middle of the night.

Source: DeviantArt

It's been two months since I opened my large mouth a little too widely, and things have calmed down considerably. I've only received one or two interview requests in the past month (which I've dutifully ignored), and website views have tapered off to a fairly consistent 500 truck-enthusiasts a day. I've been spending my weekends hammering away on a new home improvement project, and enjoying bike rides to events in the area.

So it caught me totally off-guard when I, with little warning (like a few hours), found myself in a very formal meeting, where I was told, in no uncertain terms, that my weird truck shenanigans weren't going to fly anymore. The company parking lot isn't zoned for residential use, and it's illegal for me to be sleeping in it. It's also a liability, and certainly not a burden my company has any reason or obligation to take on.

And now I'm left to answer a (very timely) question I received, one that I'd been mentally dodging for a while:

Do you have a backup plan if you have to leave the corporate campus?

What's Next

The answer to the above question should have been "Yes, of course I have a backup plan!", because a backup plan is literally the first thing I should have prepared. It's not like there was any certainty in my parking situation to begin with, it was based on assumptions and optimism. But, as I'm rapidly learning about myself, I'm not quite as good a planner as I'd hoped I was. Sure, my friends would happily take me in (like the stray dog that I am) while I figure it all out, but why should they have to deal with my completely ridiculous truck-related problems? It's similar to how I felt about dumping my trash, it's not my friends' responsibility in the slightest.

So that leaves me here, sitting in a cafe writing this post, iterating through the various (in reality, just two) options available to me.

Sell The Truck

Not happening. I've been far too spoiled by the simplicity, mobility, and regimentation the truck has provided me. I'm not ready to donate part of my life to a soul-killing commute. I'm in the best shape of my life because of my strict, truck-necessitated workout schedule and weekend bike rides. I like that my whole life fits in a parking space. I like the deafening sound of pouring rain on my thin metal rooftop just as much as I like falling asleep to the sound of crickets. I like being able to tear apart the walls and put them back together again on a whim in the name of "Home Improvement". I want to be able to live in random places for a night just because it's convenient. I like always living just outside my comfort zone. And yes, I like being able to fast-track my retirement and earn my complete freedom.

Redefine Home

As you can probably guess from the paragraph above, I'm clearly not ready, willing, or able to sell the truck. Instead, I'm going to step outside my comfort zone, and move my truck beyond the relative safety of the corporate parking lots. This means I'm a little further from the resources and facilities than I'm used to, but I'll figure it out with time and the slightest bit of planning. Like with everything else in my life, routine and consistency are paramount, and once I settle back into a rhythm, I doubt this hiccup will be an issue. As far as the logistics go, I still haven't been able to find vagrancy codes for the city I live in, though there is a Senate bill working its way through the system that would invalidate city laws prohibiting sleeping in cars, which I'm naturally rooting for. In the mean time (and really just forever), my best bet for staying out of trouble is to be unobtrusive and out of the way. I'll have to play it by ear for a while, but I have complete faith that everything will (slowly, but surely) work itself out.*

Brightside

Being evicted isn't exactly the most pleasant feeling on the planet, especially when I've spent the past few months lulling myself into a false sense of comfort and security. But I'd be kidding myself if I believed for a second I wasn't still the luckiest person on Earth. Human beings have endured so much worse over the course of history. Read literally any statistic on this page and it'll become imminently clear that even in this day and age, the worst day I have in my whole life won't be as hard as what billions of people experience every day. For me to sit here and complain and wallow in my own self-pity while a billion children live in poverty would be an incredible display of arrogance, and a complete waste of time and energy. I still have my dream job, I'm still able to live my truck-heavy lifestyle, and I'm surrounded by supportive friends. Hell, my manager even offered me his guest room while I figured everything out, which was above and beyond anything I could have asked for (not that I took him up on it). To ignore all of that and be sad about the drawbacks of my entirely self-imposed lifestyle and short-sighted decision-making would be to discount just how truly fortunate I am.

Looking A Bit Further

Mistakes are always a good thing as long as you learn something from them, and the lesson I'm learning here is to plan ahead, certainly more than I have been. Having some sort of contingency plan is the key to my situation remaining viable, and one plan that I've been looking at is buying property (along with a couple other truck-minded people) and then parking there. This is a much more long term solution, and there aren't any promising properties available at the moment, but it's something I'm seriously looking at.

Speaking of other truck people, I really owe them an apology that my vocabulary doesn't really have the words for. For years, people at similar companies have been doing the exact things I had been doing up until today. The fact that my company is cracking down two months after I paraded myself around is no coincidence. I don't know why it was so hard for me to keep my mouth shut in the first place, I knew what the consequences could have been (and now are). I guess it's hubris, maybe I thought I had something to prove or needed validation that I what I was doing was right. In any case, the fact that my own egotism has potentially uprooted the lives of others isn't something I'm proud of. I don't have a good solution, but if you're one of those people, please let me know and I'll do whatever I can to help.

*I edited this paragraph pretty heavily on December 16, 2015, mainly to save me from myself aforementioned loud mouth.

Source: MacGyver-ing my way to dryness, and taking pictures in portrait because I don't know how to camera

Note: Throughout this post, I use phrases like "yesterday" and "last night". In reality, it was two nights ago, but I'm slow to get my thoughts onto (digital) paper.

The Bay Area is a fairly dry place. In the past six months of my living out here, it has only "rained" a handful of times. I use the term rain lightly, because it's barely ever more than a passing drizzle. In spite of the precipitation's timidity, people have become so adjusted to the area's micro-climate that they act (and drive) like it's a flash flood. Yesterday, it rained. But it didn't "rain", no, this wasn't Your Dad's Rain™ at all. Yesterday, I experienced my first Californian downpour.

A Rude Awakening

Falling asleep to the sounds of a light drizzle has actually proved fairly relaxing. The measured, metallic taps of gentle raindrops on the thin box roof haven't been cause for much concern. Unfortunately, that doesn't hold true when showers become full-on rainstorms, a la last night. The metallic taps turn into a two-year old's one-man pot-and-pan all-percussion band, a perfect maelstrom of discordant tones. It was more than enough to wake me up a few times over the course of the night: groggy, confused, and wondering if my life was in danger at the hands of the monsters pounding on my walls.

The Problem

I've mentioned "The Hole" before, a looming Home Improvement project I've been trying (lackadaisically) to figure out how to address. It hasn't really been an issue, the pecking crows I get every so often aren't a big deal, and the few sporadic spurts of rainfall I've seen so far never let more than a few drops of water inside. Last night, my relationship with rain took a turn for the worse. Dwarfed by the din of rain using my roof as a bongo drum, I could faintly hear a metered drip sound, maybe once every few seconds. This is a Bad Thing™: a drip every few minutes I can ignore, but at this frequency, I'm dealing with a pretty substantial amount of water. Too much water potentially means mold or mildew, or rotting away the wood, or making the truck extra humid during the day, which in turn makes it a breeding ground for sadness (read: bugs). So I begrudgingly rolled out of bed (at 3:26 AM) and took a look at the situation. Sure enough, the area around the hole was providing a slow, but steady stream of water droplets, and aggressively placing them on my floor. Time to spring into action.

The (Very Temporary) Solution

I'm no stranger to leaky roofs; my childhood home had its fair share of drip spots. The living room and my bedroom were particularly bad offenders, but we'd just grab a few pots from the kitchen, gingerly place them on the carpet, and not think much more of it. As it turns out, I don't have many pots in the truck. I did however, have an empty tub of protein powder that I hadn't had a chance to throw away yet. But alas, the drip was in the corner of the truck, and water was splashing all over the wooden railings before it hit the ground. I first attempted to tape the tub to the wall/ceiling, but all I had was carpenter's tape and the angle was all wrong anyway. I needed a way to divert the water away from the wall, and funnel it down into the tub.

Then I remembered about the new clothes rack I've yet to finish. The hollow metal rod is ever so slightly longer than the width of the truck, and I've been taking my sweet time cutting it with a hack saw (which takes forever). As a result, it's been sitting on the ground for approximately two months, clanging obnoxiously to remind me of its presence anytime I drive anywhere. Anyway, I maneuvered one end of the rod up to the leak, jammed the other end into the tub, and then used a bin full of random stuff to hold it in place. The end result is pictured above, and I like to think that MacGyver would be proud.

It was still raining when I woke up again at 5:30 AM, and the makeshift bucket had actually collected a fairly impressive amount of water. Was the stopgap a success? I like to think so.

The Longer-Term Solution

Even though it doesn't rain here much, fixing the leak is a much more attractive option than just managing the leak. Theoretically, I could just rig up the pipe/tub combination every time it started raining, but that's more of a cop-out than anything else. What happens if I'm away for a few days and it rains? I can't keep the pipe there all the time, it's not stable enough to stay in place while I'm driving. Plus, do I really want to keep an empty tub around all the time? That's just clutter, and I'm not one for clutter.

The issue is that the damaged area isn't just one material. The outside looks like sheet metal, and the inside is some sort of fiberglass composite. I could just throw some epoxy putty over the wound, but I have my doubts about how well that would hold/keep out water. I'll have to call a few different places (mechanics, glass companies, Ford-certified maintenance centers, etc) and see if anyone can fix the whole thing at once. And if it takes them more than a day to do it, I have to find a place to stay. Not a big deal, but the combination of all the aforementioned obstacles probably explains why, after six months of owning the truck, the damned hole is still there.

Source: RC Lighthouse

I knew the day would come eventually. In one of my first posts, I mentioned a guy who was doing something similar to what I'm doing now. His observation was that security personnel at these large companies doesn't care how insane you are if you work at the company and aren't hurting anyone. Last night, I had my first run in with company security. What follows is my experience.

It's almost 1 am, I just got out of a movie with a few friends. The movie was mediocre at best, certainly nothing special. I drive my house back to my usual parking place at the edge of a company lot, as I normally do. I grab my bag of toiletries and head into a nearby building to brush my teeth and wash my face. As I walk out, I pass a security car. They linger for a minute, and then drive off. I don't think much of it. After a short traipse across the lot, I hop into my car, put on my pajamas, and go to sleep.

Knock. Knock. Knock. Is there anyone in there?

It's 2 am, and I'm pretty disoriented. I try to compose myself and quietly reply, "Yes, one second." After stumbling around in the dark for a few seconds, I find a sweatshirt and throw it on. Opening up the back gate and going outside, I'm greeted by approximately 10 security personnel, pointing flashlights in various directions, standing by a variety of security vehicles. They explain to me that one of them saw me get into the back of the car, and when they ran my plate against the company database, the information didn't match up. Apparently I'd registered the car as a Chevrolet Econoline in the company's internal system, when in reality it was a Ford.* I offer to move my truck, but they tell me I'm fine, and even that I have a "sweet setup". I hand one of them my corporate badge and make weird truck-related small talk with the rest as they confirm with the security dispatcher that I am indeed an employee. It felt like an eternity, but the whole interaction took place over the course of less than 5 minutes. They tell me to have a nice night, and even apologize for waking me up.

After explaining the situation to a friend they were "glad the interaction with security has happened, went well and [is] over," a sentiment I share. Like I said, it was inevitable, and I'm actually pretty surprised that it took three months to happen. But now that I know for sure I'm not being banished or shunned at a corporate level for my truck lifestyle, I can rest that much easier.

*I checked after and they were totally right, my bad. "Chevrolet Econoline" isn't even a real vehicle.

Note: I wrote most of this post immediately after it happened. Like, literally as the cars were driving away at 2 am.

Source: My secret weapon in the War on Terror Insects, courtesy of Home Depot

Gnat nightmares, spider sadness, moth madness, ant anxiety, bug barrage—ok I'll stop now.

I'm not a fan of bugs. Generally speaking, unless you're an entomologist or earthy-crunchy type, you probably aren't either. I'm not terrified of them by any means, I'm not liable to stop what I'm doing if a bug decides to drop by and say hey, but I'm still likely to exterminate them all with extreme prejudice before going to sleep. After all, nobody is trying to eat spiders whilst slumbering. I'm happy to say that I haven't had any full-blown infestations recently, though it hasn't always been the case.

Before I recount in gritty detail the various hordes who've ravaged my home, I should note that the box makes a fantastic breeding ground for all of my nightmares. It's warm, dark, and humid during the day, and I keep the back gate slightly open at night for air circulation and temperature control, so it's even easily accessible for them. On top of that, despite not keeping any food in there, there are more than enough yummy goodies (from an insect's perspective) in the form of cloth, wood, and the various clumps of refuse hiding in cracks and crevices left behind by previous truckers. Basically, I'd been inadvertently building a 128 ft2 insect farm and microbiome from the start.

Moths

Moths were the first plague I encountered. I'm not sure what drew them in initially, but I started noticing them a few days after I "moved in". As it turns out, moths feed on fabric, particularly wool and silk, which I apparently have in my wardrobe (who would have thought). For about a week, it was a pretty common occurrence to have 3 or 4 flying around when I came back, and it really bothered me when they'd fly out of my gym bag at work, or I'd find them dead at the bottom of the dryer (I'm currently shuddering thinking about the latter two). I think the issue is mainly that my clothes (on a rack) are too easily accessible, clothes left in the attic of a normal home have similar issues. Anyway, I went on a pretty intense extermination spree, shaking out all my clothes and washing my entire wardrobe, and that seemed to do the trick. Now I periodically beat all my clothes with a broomstick, like a normal, well-adjusted human being. And when I'm packing the next-day's clothes into my gym bag, I always shake them out first to double check. I still have the odd run-in with moths, but now it's more like one per week, which is, in my opinion, very manageable.

Spiders

If you had never seen a spider before, and nobody had explained to you that spiders existed, it'd be very reasonable to believe that they were straight up malicious alien lifeforms. They're hairy, have legs coming out radially all over the place, have crazy eyes, and they make these intricate webs exclusively for trapping (and subsequently eating alive) prey and pissing people off. They're weird and scary, and in the harsh lighting of my truck, they cast massive, nightmarish shadows, regardless of their actual size. On top of that, their presence normally means there are other pests for them to feed on, so their very existence spells trouble. For all these reasons, I have quite the preoccupation with keeping them away from me. I've never found more than one or two at a time, but I'm much more comfortable when there are zero of them. Controlling them normally means controlling whatever else has inhabited the box first, then killing all the leftover spiders by hunting them down one by one. Finding all their sneaky hiding spots can be tricky, but it's not that bad when your entire house is one room.

Ants

My ant infestation was by far the worst experience I had. Originally, I noticed a few small, translucent insects crawling over the wood securement I use to hold the bed in place. No big deal I thought, I'll just move the wood to near the door and brush them off outside with the broom. But when I moved the wood, I saw that there were a ton more of them, and it wasn't the wood that they were after. In fact, hordes of them were moving back and forth from a shadowed corner of the truck. This is essentially what nightmares are made of, an uncountable number of entities moving in the shadows. I immediately moved my bed to the other side of the truck, and hesitantly shined a flashlight into the shadowy corner. It was as awful as I could have imagined. I was greeted by an army of tiny, determined ants, pouring endlessly out of a small crack in the wall. I spent the next two hours sweeping them out of the truck, neurotically checking and scrubbing every corner of the truck. Once I felt I had it under control, I went to sleep, only to be haunted by wave after wave of insect-related nightmares. As you can imagine, the next day saw a hasty trip to none other than Home Depot.

The tricky thing about killing insects in the truck is that you can't outright spray them with chemicals or put mothballs everywhere: it's a small, enclosed, poorly-ventilated area, and spraying a pesticide cocktail in the place where I sleep is pretty much a guarantee that my kids will be born with the wrong number of eyes and limbs. Luckily, I found these perfectly-evil ant traps, which work by being delicious to ants, and then killing them after they've already fed the entire colony. I dropped one of those bad boys near the aforementioned crack of despair, and then didn't look at it for two days. When I went to check in, the transparent plastic container was filled with the stationary bodies of my enemies, which brought me a palpable sense of relief (and joy?). I threw that trap out, and put another one down. At present, that second trap has been down for three weeks, and I haven't seen a single ant in or around the truck since. Powerful stuff.

Okay, that's definitely a bit of a dramatic title, but I am definitely not happy with this turn of events. This actually happened two weeks ago, but I've been busy vacationing in LA (staying in a hotel, with a real room!) and haven't been posting.

Anyway, as you can see, someone has hit and damaged my front-left blinker, dislodging it from its socket and ruining a perfectly pleasant afternoon. They didn't leave a note, not that I should be expecting decency from a reckless stranger anyway. After a (very little) bit of sleuthing, I think I understand what happened though.

The Hunch

Looking at the damage, it's immediately clear that a taller, larger vehicle is the source of my woes. The scratches are higher up than a car or truck's front bumper would be. Additionally, the area I'm parked in is near where the corporate buses queue up before going about their routes. In all likelihood, a bus took the turn too tight, and the tail swung out into my poor house-truck. The driver may not have even noticed.

The Lesson

Like I've said before, I'm constantly learning new things and encountering situations that nothing in my past could have prepared me for. I can say with a fair bit of confidence that if I lived in an apartment, I'd be significantly less likely to experience someone busting their car through my wall like a Kool-Aid Man/Transformer-hybrid. But I live in a parking lot, and I guess car/house-accidents just come with the territory. The upshot is that since my house is mobile, I can move it to a spot out of the path of bus-destruction, which is exactly what I did. The damage isn't bad enough that I need to get it fixed immediately, and I'll try my hand at fixing it up before I bother a mechanic about it, especially since if the bodywork took them a few days, I'd have to relocate temporarily. Stay tuned for a future home improvement post.

Unfortunately, I'm not talking about some more RV/Hippie Van/Truck neighbors.

No matter how well you plan out things, life always has a way of throwing little things at you to make sure you're still paying attention. For the past week, life has been throwing the sound of jackhammers in my direction. It makes perfect sense that construction crews would work at night, when normal human beings aren't at work and getting in their way, but I certainly was not expecting the parking lot I call home to be subjected to such perils. Like, they're actually tearing up 10' by 10' sections at a time, something to do with pipes or electricity or whatnot. I'm a computer systems engineer, not a mechanical engineer, I have no idea how any of this stuff works. It makes me think back to when I was considering getting soundproofing installed by that Happy Vans company in San Jose. It's still not really an issue, the truck actually does a surprisingly good job of blocking it out, and I haven't had any trouble falling asleep. Still, just goes to show you that there will always be something, whether it's crows, radioactive waste, or jackhammers.

In any case, I enjoy the variety and dynamic unpredictability of the whole situation.

Something I noticed when I first bought this truck was that it had a special permit in it. A special permit issued by the "Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration", authorizing it to carry…something? I'm not actually sure what this truck was used for prior to my purchase, some sort of commercial activity, and I know for a fact that it started it's life as a simple Budget truck. Call it stubbornness or naivety, but I'm not particularly interested in finding out what it actually was carrying. I've lived here a month with no adverse effects, and I've even noted my improved sleeping abilities. Who knows, maybe my ability to sleep is from toxic fumes knocking me out every night, or maybe one morning I'll wake up and all my hair has fallen out and I'll have developed some new, baffling form of respiratory cancer. That would be an interesting one to explain to a doctor. Best case scenario, the truck was carrying radioactive waste and my exposure is slowly giving me super powers. Worst case scenario, the truck was carrying radioactive waste and my exposure is slowly turning me into a character from The Hills Have Eyes.

All I know for sure is that I'm living in a truck that has "special permit authorization" to carry hazardous wastes. Given that the only things that this truck carries are me and my livelihood, that permit is effectively calling me hazardous waste. In any case, I'm authorized to carry hazardous wastes well into the year 2017, which I'm sure will totally come in handy at some point.

Side note: I totally passed all three CDL knowledge tests (general, air brake, and passenger) on my second try! Just goes to show you that actually practicing and preparing for something can go along way, which I like to think is analogous to how the next four years of planning my travels will turn out.

Before you get too worried, the title probably isn't what you think it is.

I've heard some strange sounds at night, things that sound vaguely like dirt bikes, drones, jackhammers, fireworks, people playing Pac-Man, you name it: if it's unidentifiable and doesn't belong in a parking lot, I've probably heard it from the back of this box. But there has been one sound I've heard on several occasions, usually in the morning on weekends, that until recently, has been totally baffling to me.

The Sound

I can't remember when I first heard it, but in my groggy, half-awake state, I thought it was someone typing up a citation for me. Now, this doesn't make much sense in retrospect, but it sounded like someone typing loudly on a keyboard. When I say loudly, I mean I legitimately imagined someone outside my truck with an old mechanical typewriter, slamming away at keys and watching the tiny hammers force ink onto paper. And to my hazy, early morning mind, this meant that someone was typing up my license plate, prepared to give me a ticket freshly printed from their antique typewriter. Stranger still, in between these loud keystrokes, I'd hear softer pecks, as if they were more gingerly hitting some keys, though less frequently than others. It wasn't until a Sunday morning, when I woke up and had the chance to listen to it for a while, that I figured out what it was.

Birds.

More specifically, crows. The sound I was hearing was them hopping along the roof of the box, their claws scraping against the metal roof. They must be pretty large, because they produce some thunderous thuds as they plop their way across. The "softer pecks" that I was hearing were actual pecking sounds, on one specific part of the roof.

The Hole

Pictured above, the hole is a home improvement project I'm not quite sure how to tackle yet. It's some old damage, probably from someone bumping the truck into a structure that didn't quite fit the 11' clearance requirement. It's been covered up out the outside with duct tape, and on the inside with what looks like a protective spray coating. In the morning, a single beam of light shines through an exposed hole. Not a big deal in my book because, one, it never rains here, and two, I like to think of it as a tiny skylight. But for some reason, whether it's the tape or the coating, the crows just love to peck at it. Regardless of where they initially land on the roof, they always trot on over to this one corner, which is right above my head, and they peck at it until they're sufficiently satisfied they've banged their faces against it enough times and that they've succeeded in waking me up.

No complaints on my end, I'm more than happy to have Nature's alarm clock at my disposal, and anyone who's ever listened to raindrops rhythmically landing on a car roof knows just how relaxing it can be.

My parking situation is very much analogous to my housing situation: I don't quite fit in. One of the most difficult parts of my situation, one that I underestimated during the planning process, is trying to fit the silly thing in parking lots.

Imagine this. It's Saturday morning, and you'd like to run some errands. No big deal right, just hop in the car and go do them. Think again. There are two ways your scenario can play out.

Scenario #1: You're going to the Mall

Sweet, we're going to the mall, a huge outdoor complex, parking should be a breeze, right? Still wrong. If it's even mildly busy, you're going to be constantly within inches of a multi-car insurance claim, and don't expect any other car on the road to understand that your vehicle doesn't maneuver as tightly as their Prius does. They'll pull right up to your front bumper as you're in the middle of a very tight right turn, and then look mortified as you play a game of Operation/horizontal Limbo that would make your childhood self envious. Not to mention the cases where backing up in the middle of a four way intersection becomes necessary. You've never seen fear until you've looked into a soccer mom's anxious eyes as you back your wrought iron tailgate nanometers away from her prized RAV4.

Scenario #2: You're not going to the Mall

So you're going to a small store, like a GNC or an Autozone. How do you know where to park when you get there? You don't fit in any old spot. If you're lucky, the spots might be a little longer than usual and you can back your tail end a few feet over the curb. That is if there aren't any poles, street lamps, or sprinklers, and if the curb is low enough that you don't bounce it off the gas tank. Otherwise, you have to hope that the lot is designed so that it butts two parking spots up against each other without any curbs, medians, or trees between them, because then you can just park and take up the entirety of two spots. Oh, and be on the lookout for low hanging branches while you're doing on this, or one of them might get caught in the sheathing on top of the box and rip the whole thing open. My strategy for not destroying my house has been to look up the area on Google Maps ahead of time, scope out a good location, and then hope nothing goes horribly wrong in the actual execution of the plan.

I did quite a bit of internal debating over whether or not the 16' box would be too cumbersome. In the end, I'm glad I have all of the extra space (compared to, say, a 10' box), but if you're even thinking of doing something similar, make sure you're completely comfortable maneuvering large vehicles. I drove 40' buses in college, and I never thought that knowledge would be so incredibly necessary for my future life as a software engineer. Life's funny that way.