backchannel: vandwellers OBES

There is a thing in online forums called an Obligatory Brave Exit Speech (OBES), in which one stands in the doorway and explains why one is leaving.    This one really isn’t like that (it’s not grandstanding), and contains some ideas worth discussing.

I am well and am currently holed up until the pandemic situation ends and I can get back on the road.

This is a reasonable reaction to Covid-19.  I don’t think it’s necessary but I find no fault.

In the current situation, it's simply not a good time to be vandwelling, especially for beginners, and I see no reason to encourage people to do it now.

I disagree.  Vandwelling is an excellent way to take shelter both from economic hardship and from urban populations. 

Of course the current situation will end eventually.


It will bring changes to our lifestyle that we can't even imagine now.

Dunno about that.  It will disrupt the party crowd, and will affect stealthers more than boondockers.

But one thing won't change, because it has always been true: as a community, we have always brought most of our troubles and difficulties onto ourselves and have always been our own worst enemies.

This is the main difference in our approaches.  The author thinks community laws against vandwelling are due to vandweller misbehavior, and I think it’s due to NIMBY’s leveraging the power of the state to keep out folks they don’t happen to like.

Although only a tiny minority of us have shit for brains and do stupid things, they always manage to wreck things for everyone else.

I agree it’s a minority, but I think they are used as a fig leaf for NIMBY coercion.

Our lifestyle depends on being below the radar, inconspicuous and unnoticed.

The urban stealthing lifestyle does, but that’s hardly all of vandwelling.

I some senses I think that being “out” as a well-behaved, money-spending vandweller can make us more welcome in towns.

I have sadly concluded that there are simply too many of us, and therefore too many shitheads--and that creating new vandwellers will only add to our difficulties.

I don’t think that’s true.  IMO, an increasing number of consumers brings increasing products and services for that market.

So I have reluctantly concluded that it has become counter-productive to our lifestyle to encourage newbies or to help them, and I will no longer do so.

This is the part that interests me the most.  I also have reservations about helping newbies sometimes, although my concern centers on helping (enabling) idiots.  People who can’t figure out simple stuff or who won’t expend minimal effort on their own behalf belong in assisted living, not on their own out there on the road.

My approach has been:

  • help the clueful or interested

  • ignore and downvote idiots, the drug casualties, the lazy, the crazy, and the learned helpless

  • try to figure out which way folks on the margins might fall.  I usually read a few day’s worth of their posting history to find out if it was an unfortunately-worded post or evidence of habitual idiocy.

In a few years when the InstaGram craze is over and the newbies have moved on to the Next Big Fad,

This too shall pass.  We hope.

The final reason is Reddit itself. It is, sadly, a cesspool of crackpots and conspiracy cranks,

Maybe, but it’s the best discussion site I know of.

So, once this pandemic is over and I can once again return to the road, I will live my vanlife, I will try to avoid all the damage caused by the shitheads, and I will have a good time.

Hard to argue with that.

Good travels to all.

And also to you.