Our Tribe, Your Tribe…
Our Tribe, Your Tribe…
The Trailer Park Files: Adventures at the Ritz Carlton Prevelly AKA The Prevelly Caravan Park
“It seems that you suffer from a case of humanity…”
“It seems that you suffer from a case of humanity” said a man with the slightest of smiles and a melancholy tone as I walked out the door, “I suffer from the same ailment. It’s really just a mental illness, there for some to take advantage of and others to laugh at.”
Anthony Charity is in charge of maintenance and cleaning at The Ritz Carlton Prevelly Hills AKA The Prevelly Caravan Park . He is a warm character with an honest smile. He’s 60 years young and happy for “every morning that he wakes up to see the sun shining.” His face displays the signs of a life well lived, with wrinkles from plenty of smiling over the years. “My friend’s call me ‘Charger,’” he explained, so named for his exploits in big waves in times gone by.
I met him a few weeks earlier when I walked up to the shower facilities building and stopped in my tracks at the door. “Wet floor,” the sign read. Charger was standing around the corner that I had just walked past. My feet were dirty as I am an unprofessional surfer, and unprofessional surfers rarely put shoes on.
“Go ahead, just be careful, the floor is a bit slippery” he said with only the faintest sense of inevitability in his voice, a sense of the inevitable fact that sooner or later others would be walking over his freshly mopped floor with muddy shoes and dirty bare feet, as they do every day, oblivious to the work that Charger just put into cleaning up their previous day’s mess.
“Nah, it’s cool bro, I’ll just use the showers on the other side of the park” I said, “I don’t want to get the floor dirty, you just cleaned it” I said as I turned around.
“No worries mate, you’re alright. People will just walk in and mess it up anyways, and I’ll clean it up tomorrow” he said with a genuine tone and one of those honest smiles as I started off towards the other side of The Ritz Prevelly.
“No, it’s cool, I’ll just walk to the other side. I don’t want to mess up your work.” I said as kept walking.
A few footsteps later I heard his voice behind me as I was walked across the green lawn towards the road to the other side of The Ritz.
“It’s about time we had a real man around here” he announced in a commending voice. You could tell he was not accustomed to receiving too much respect from the budget travelers, backpackers, nomadic surfers, and trailer park residents who frequent The Ritz Prevelly.
Over the few weeks since that day, we have exchanged greetings and a few honest smiles when our paths had crossed, and sometimes chatted for a bit.
Today I walked into the shower facilities. I had stayed home from my lucrative career as a laborer building pre-fabricated houses. I stayed home because of the reality of the past few weeks had finally hit me. Bad news from home-the parents aren’t doing well, my mom is back in the hospital, my father’s doctor gave him some shocking news, and my best friends little brother died when his US Marine Corp Osprey aircraft crashed during military exercises in Morocco. I was walking like a zombie. It all hit me at once the night before and I was not sure if I was going to cry, vomit, or both, so I decided to avoid power tools and stay home from work for the day.
As I walked into the showers, I was oblivious to anything around me due to fact that my brain felt swollen and stomach felt sliced open from all the emotions running through me. I heard a voice.
“Hey mate. Hang on, I just sprayed chemicals in there” said a familiar voice. Charger walked around the corner into view, “but if you give me a minute, I’ll clean a shower out for you so you can use it” he said with a smile.
“Thanks for offering bro, I’ll just walk over to the others” as I turned and walked towards the door.
As I was halfway out the door that familiar voice with that familiar tone, a voice that sounds like that of a great storyteller, spoke out slowly “It seems that you suffer from a case of humanity” he said in that warm, honest tone, “I suffer from the same ailment.”
It was enough to break my “no smile” streak for the morning. I turned around and laughed “I suppose that I hope I do…”
Charger leaned against the wall, took a deep breath, and stared at the ceiling “You know, that’s why I love your tribe…”
It was enough to grab my attention, I could sense a story coming, and I relaxed and crossed my arms with a subconscious realization that I might be there for a little while. He continued:
Most people would have just complained that I was cleaning the showers when they want to use them, but your tribe is different. I spent a lot of time travelling around the world surfing, and I always seemed to end up finding myself with Americans. Your tribe is a good tribe. Your tribe has respect, your tribe is smart, and your tribe is dependable. I could always count on my American friends 100% of the time, but they didn’t take themselves seriously and we could always have a laugh no matter how serious the situations. I could always count on them.
“This is how ‘hello’ turns into a 20 minute conversation…” I thought.
Do you know that your tribe is the only tribe in the world that love’s us Aussies for who we are? The Pommies don’t like us, the Kiwi’s hate us, the Chinese would skin us for our resources if you guys weren’t behind us, and the Japanese would have wiped us off the map if it wasn’t for your tribe. You guys saved our asses in ol’ WWII! I don’t like when Aussies forget about that.
I smiled, I was grateful that he shared the story, “my grandfather fought in that war.”
He smiled and pointed out with a little laugh “ya see what I mean.”
I thought about my grandfather serving in the Pacific during WWII in the Marines. My grandfather is my hero. He was a hero. He is a hero I was happy that someone on the other side of the world appreciated him. I thought of the tradition of the Marines. I thought of Robby, a Marine, my friend’s little brother who just died. He was a hero. He is a hero.
“Do you know why we are loyal to your tribe, and not the English?” He asked.
“No” I said, curious of what story would follow.
“You see, we are supposed to be part of the commonwealth, a close alliance with Britain, but they sold us out in WWII. Churchill sold us out. We lost 70,000 troops in Singapore, half of our army gone, dead, or captured and tortured. The Brits always said they would be there for us, but they abandoned us at the worst possible time, and it crippled our ability to defend ourselves from the Japanese. No one came to help us, except for you Yanks. Your tribe saved us. There would be no Australia if it wasn’t for America. Japan would have overrun easily us if it wasn’t for your Marines and your Navy and all the planes in your air force and all your soldiers that came to fight on the other side of the world. The Japanese were on our doorstep, they were bombing us, sinking our ships, planning their invasion here…until your boys got here that is…”
I thought about his words. As an American travelling around for a year, I had become all to accustomed to the fact that everyone has an opinion of America. Usually, that opinion is based solely on what they see on TV. One learns quickly that, with thousands of television channel, thousands of movies, thousands of publications being sent out of America to all corners of the globe, there are not many people that do not have an opinion on America.
Nobody has any opinions on Latvia, because most people do not even know where to find it on a map. Nobody watches movies from Bolivia, because Hollywood is not in Bolivia. Nobody pesters travelling Canadians about their country’s politics, because not too many people pay attention to Canadian Politics outside of Canada. However, if an American pulls into a spot frequented by travelers, then suddenly everyone in the room has a Ph.D. in geopolitics. Conspiracy theories, criticisms of our country, dumb questions like “is everyone fat in America” or “is everyone beautiful and blonde in America,” you get used to them. Charger’s words were refreshing.
“You see, we’re in the same boat, our tribes are I mean..” he continued:
“China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, they all talk nice and act nice, like they actually like us, but if it actually hit the fan, if things got really bad, we would be in the same boat. That’s why our boys were in Vietnam with your boys, that’s why our boys were in Iraq with your boys, and that’s why our boys are over there in Afghanistan with your boys. You’ve always been there for us, and I hope our tribe will always be there for you.”
He smiled an honest smile, tilted his head, and slowly leaned against the wall, eyes gazing at the ceiling “yeah, that’s why I love your tribe.”
It’s not fiction, but it could be…
The Quiet American…
Margaret River, Western Australia AKA The Land of Broken Boards…