Border or Bust, Part 2: Crack Spanging and the Nicest Taco Bell Employee Ever

in #life3 years ago

We left off last behind a cheap motel in Grants Pass, technically being homeless in a place where it was illegal to do so.  Needless to say, we didn't get much sleep that first night, partially because we were crammed in the front of a tiny truck with Rebel too.  We tried though and gave up sore when we started to notice the sky changing colors. 

We spent the time in the week before we left asking all the hippies we knew where the best and safest places to spange, that was ask for money, were.  Our first stop was in Grants Pass, at the Walmart. There are realistically two ways to go about this, either by flying a sign or by what's called crack spanging.  Flying a sign is much more conspicuous but at the same time it's anonymous, as people don't generally want to talk as they drive by handing you money. That's the easiest way to get the cops called on you though, something I intended to avoid.

Acid told me my best route would be what's called crack spanging.  It got the nickname from crackheads, as they've got the confidence to go and ask anyone for money for drugs, supposedly.  It's really just going up to someone giving them your spiel and asking for extra cash.  If you're convincing and they've got it, they'll give it to you.  It's not as easy as it sounds however, especially in today's economy.  Even if you're totally honest and people feel for you, half the time they just don't have it.  Many people opened their wallets expecting to have something for me, only to have literally nothing.

So we headed to the Walmart located in a dense shopping area with lots of grounds to crack spange.  I went to the bathroom to wash up and returned to find John returning to the truck, looking stressed and sick. He apparently had just thrown up, dealing with the stress of being on the run with no sleep and a blown engine.  I left him with the truck and started making the rounds, asking whoever I came into contact with.

Many people said they didn't have cash, which I believe in today's card oriented world.  A few of them informed me it was illegal to do what I was doing.  A guy in dreadlocks gave me his last dollar and a hug, to be made fun of by his friends for being a wimp. I walked for 9 hours that first day and I made 35 dollars.  I'd heard stories of people making several hundred in just one, so what I was dealing with was discouraging at best.  

John spent the day considering our options.  He priced bikes, bike trailers and bookbags.  At one point we really considered biking to Acapulco and we actually discussed it a bit publicly on facebook with people already here.  There were discussions of having to walk, or swim.  As it stood, we had no vehicle to get us there so we wanted to have all options considered.  He also spent the day on the local Taco Bell's wifi, searching for cheap local vehicles or a place to stay and possibly work on ours.

Apparently while at Taco Bell, he caught the attention of an older woman working there, who I'll call Tammy.  He ordered a few things for the use of the internet and restrooms throughout the day and interacted with her.  In slow times she talked to him to find out we were stranded.  I later showed up pretty much giving up on spanging for the day, as I had hardly made anything.  

We went to order a little food for dinner and we talked to her about the troubles I had had throughout the day.  Tammy was incredibly warm and nice, probably the nicest Taco Bell employee I had ever interacted with.  By the time she finished ringing us up, she was in tears.  She followed us over to the drink fountain and wrote down an address, giving us directions to get there.  She explained that while it was illegal to camp in Grants Pass, it wasn't if you were on private property with permission to be there.  She had given us, total strangers, the address to her house with the go ahead to use her yard for a few nights if we needed.  We were extremely grateful.  

After a little while, she asked if we smoked pot.  We told her we did, that we were stranded due to trim work that never happened.  She nodded as if she understood and said that she was normally a trimmer too, but that it didn't happen this year.  She said that if we'd like, she'd invite us and Rebel in to smoke with her after work. 

We left her work a few minutes before she did and waited outside.  It seemed like she came home but it was awhile before anyone came to retrieve us.  We were scared at first because we weren't even sure we had found the right place.  Turns out we had though, because she came out in the darkness with a flashlight to tell us to come on in.

She lived in a small trailer that was full of knick knacks and pictures.  I instantly liked her kitchen because the walls were covered in interesting cast iron and old cooking utensils.  She brought us back to her room where she had a pug that Rebel instantly adored.  She was afraid of Rebel, but I explained that he had experience with small dogs.  He had a chug, that is a pug chihuahua mix, friend back at the property so he knew the deal.  She kept them apart however, and that was fine.

She was super friendly and nice, although it was clear she had her own life problems and drama.  I've heard the saying that the poor give because they understand what it's like to have nothing, and that's true in many cases.  This woman had less to give than many of the people that I asked for money, yet she had done more than anyone else had in that day.  

We didn't tell her we were on the run, as we were honestly too scared to.  We just told her we were stranded out west due to crappy work prospects.  Our plan was to get a new vehicle and get to southern california for farm work, or that's what we told her.  We said if our plan there didn't work, we'd go back to Detroit.  I hated lying to her, but we did it to protect ourselves. 

We smoked and exchanged weed, as she had several medical strains of her own.  Eventually she got a phone call from her daughter in southern California, where she was originally from.  We left her with that to return to our truck, to prepare it for a night of sleep.  We were both exhausted from everything and slept pretty well, until it started raining inside.

We were staying in our truck, in the back with a cab on it.  The cab wasn't sealed and that was our first night in the thing in the rain so we found out the hard way.  We woke up soaked and cold, needing to head back to town to try to make more money.  The truck was obnoxious sounding.  Anyone that's ever heard an old pickup with the dying engine knock knows what we are talking about.  It's a noise so obnoxious that we're pretty sure a woman tried to call the police on us, probably thinking we were being unsafe.  The worst thing that would have happened is the engine would have siezed, blocking traffic at the worst.

I'll end this one here, as the next day was just as full as the first. It's crazy to think this all happened a year ago and that we were successful.  When we were in Grants Pass with that blown engine things seemed pretty grim.  It seemed like we were going to end up arrested at best, but things didn't happen that way.  I'm not much for guardian angels, but someone must have wanted us to get over that border because we defied just about every odd to do so.  

Thanks for reading!


I love freaking taco's!

The worst thing that would have happened is the engine would have siezed, blocking traffic at the worst.

That's hopelessly optimistic! Don't you know that any time anything goes wrong with an automobile, they explode in nuclear fireballs of incendiary doom?? I know it's true; all the movies show it.

I live the movies :p that's not always the case.