Sunday, June 30, 2013

Green Lakes: A Shitty, Racist Place

You know who hates camping? Me.

Okay, so I don't really "hate" camping. It's more like I am not an "outdoorsy" type. I hate bugs, I hate the heat, I hate sleeping on dirt and/or mud, I hate sleeping with bugs, I hate freezing my nutsac off, I hate waking up in a haze and walking into the wilderness where there are no toothbrushes or flushing toilets. Man used to camp because man had to camp. It was necessity borne of a dearth of technological advancements with which we are now quite blessed. Even the Amish have cellphones now.

So a few friends of mine decided they wanted to go camping for a few days. It was kind of short notice so I knew I wouldn't be able to go, but I told them that if it was close enough, I would swing by for the evening to hang out, drink a couple of craft brews, regale them with my rapier's wit, and perhaps eat a hot dog or six. I roll with a pretty awesome crew: they are intelligent, interesting, humorous, thoughtful and kind. We like to hang out, talk, listen to tunes and enjoy each other's company. As Slick Rick once said, we don't cause trouble, we don't bother nobody. Here's a brief introduction to my crew this evening:

  • D.J. and Jenna: together for 13 years, married for a couple with a young boy.
  • Rob and Kim: married just had their second kid a few months ago
  • Richie and Ploy: a younger couple who have been married a couple years
  • Dwayne: my neighbor who lives down the street from me.
  • Andrea: amicus curiae ("friend of the crew") who showed up a little later
If you're scoring at home, we have an diverse mix: five males, four females. Two African-American males, three caucasian women, two caucasian men, and a Thai female. That isn't really relevant but I just want everyone to know how tolerant I am of various cultures. We are like a walking beer commercial.

Turns out that the campgrounds starts kicking out visitors around 9pm. Also, the campground said that there are to be no more than six people on the campgrounds at any time. Green Lakes is not far from where we live (20 minutes from pretty much any of our houses), and probably not that expensive, which is why I think it got picked as a last-minute camping option.

So I get there around 8pm and the sun is still out. We have a couple drinks, some food, play a little beer pong. The Park Rangers come by to do their cursory check of everything: keep the music down, don't be rowdy, don't do anything illegal. Strictly boilerplate stuff. We listen, we adhere, we are polite. This isn't an actual warning, it's what these folks have to do every night to make sure everyone is in compliance. Fine.

Anyway, the night gets a little later, and I can hear ruckus from some of the other camps. We are playing our music at a very, VERY low level. (I basically can't hear any of it, and I guarantee anyone more than 8 feet away can't hear it either.) I am getting ready to leave until I am encouraged -- nay, ordered -- to have another drink or six. I comply and seat myself.

Shortly thereafter, the kinda bitchy female Ranger comes back saying that another camp has been complaining about our noise. I find this claim to be spurious at best. First of all, we weren't even being that loud. Secondly, the camp directly to our left was being even louder. Thirdly, and maybe this is may own naivete, but wouldn't the camp come to ask us to please keep it down if we were being too loud? 

This last query brings me to one of two possible conclusions: one, another camp was sincerely bothered by our "noise" (they must have had fucking super-hearing) and were too chickenshit to come over to us like a MAN and ask us to keep it down. So they tattled on us to the park ranger. 

Two, there was no complaint and the park range was just making her rounds and got on a power trip. She decided that since she's the big swingin' dick in this place, she's gonna unzip and show us who's boss. It wasn't just her presence that brings me to this conclusion, but the fact that she said "I believe I asked you to turn your music down," and then before she left said, "This is my second time visiting you: you do NOT want me coming a third time." As if the first visit the rangers made was anything more than a standard "have a good night" and sniff-check for weed. I have a feeling Ranger Lady had a bit of a hard-on for my peeps.

Another thing: Ranger Lady said "there are only supposed to be six of you here and I count seven, so one of you is going to have to go." Really? Just like that, one of us has to go. Andrea said, truthfully, "I just got here, they let me in the gate." To which Ranger Lady replied, "They SHOULDN'T HAVE." Then bitch, go talk to your coworkers about letting people in after they're supposed to.

Now to be fair, Rob has one of those voices that "carries," even when he doesn't mean it to. So he was talking at what he considered to be a regular volume, but whenever he does this, the other six of us say "SHHHHHHHHH," since he's so fucking loud. It's not really his fault, he can't help it.

Now here comes the kicker....

We are still hanging out, keeping our music on at a VERY LOW volume. (Literally, they played "One Love" by Nas, a song I've heard a thousand times, and I couldn't even identify it until about 75% of the way through.) There came more flashlights, ostensibly from the Park Ranger Lady. Even though we had raised nothing remotely resembling a ruckus, I dart to the restroom to keep our total number at six (as far as the Rangers were concerned). Well, that and to take a leak. I had been drinking for like 4 hours.

I come back and apparently everything was okay: Ranger Lady had not shown up. Not five minutes later, a car comes down the road with its headlights on and stops in our area. I am about to go to my car and start driving home. Before I can, a police officer sees me and says "How you doing?" I, being fearful of all authority, am exceedingly polite. The cop I talk to is VERY, very cool. He basically says (paraphrasing), "Look man, I don't want to be here but technically we got a complaint from another camp and when that happens we kinda HAVE to check up on it. You guys look like you're not doing anything bad, just keep it down, okay?" I thank the officer and walk back to my crew, waiting for them to leave so I can hop in my Altima and get the fuck outta Green Lakes.

As I walk to my peeps, I notice that the OTHER police officer is talking to Rob (who resembles Jake Gyllenhaal, kinda) and Dwayne (who looks kinda like Turk from Scrubs). The other cop seems to be a bit more of a hard-ass, taking a firmer tone with the two of them. Dwayne and Rob are both talkers, and they use this opportunity to start sweet-talking the officers and hopefully get them on our side(s). Rob starts talking about the Yankees, Dwayne starts talking about having kids, etc., etc. 

Suddenly -- and this was the fucking coup de grace -- the officer asked to see Dwayne's (Turk's) ID, saying something like "I just need to see your ID, you understand." He took it and scanned it through his police scan thing. He didn't ask anyone else for their ID. Not Rob (who was standing beside him), not Ploy, not DJ, not Richie, not Andrea and not me. Only Dwayne; only the black guy.

Luckily for Dwayne, he is an upstanding citizen and has no outstanding warrants (that the cops will ever find out about!), and so it was all good. Still, this level of harassment for such a paltry infraction screams that there is another agenda. Long story short, do not go to Green Lakes, because the people who run the place are racist.