There is a code among campers, an unspoken understanding of how you treat one another - an honor among those who seek the great outdoors. Some of these unwritten, rarely spoken but understood rules of the trail are:
- always politely wave and smile as you walk past anothers campsite
- if you must seriously study the quality, make, and model of anothers equipment never stare and only comment when you have a compliment or a question about their satisfaction with some piece of equipment
- be quiet at night and respect other's peace
- always leave your campsite cleaner than you found it
- be quick to offer assistance or be happy to share any equipment or supplies you may have that a fellow camper may need
- always be quick to offer to help any fellow camper who seems to be in distress of any kind
- when using a shower at a campground keep in mind there are usually others waiting and be quick and efficient with your time
We have always followed these, after all having a good southern upbringing they pretty much come naturally. That said, not everyone shares that understanding or appreciation for their fellow camper. Take the last "understanding" for example. This is one that irritates me the most.
If you follow me, you know that I enjoy camping but I have one rule - I require access to a hot shower - daily. One of our favorite campgrounds is in a national park. It is an excellent place to go. The sites are well tended, shaded, and large. There are 60 tent only sites. This is all good. They only have one shower for each gender. ie there is only one shower for the women at 60 sites (which means a ratio of more than 75 to one for people doing physical activities -hiking, kayaking, etc- every day).
After camping here many times, I have adopted a motto - the early bird gets the worm. Or, in this case, the woman who gets up early (around 5:30 or 6 am in the morning) has a good chance of getting a shower without a wait. This has been my practice for the past several years. And, it has served me well. Usually I find the bath house empty, sometimes there is someone finishing up, but worse case I never have to wait long. But even at that early hour, I am quick to get in and out less I make anyone else wait.
One morning while we were there I gathered my things at 5:30 and headed to the shower. When I opened the door I heard the shower running. Being prepared, I had brought something to read as I waited. The lady showering must have just started as I got there because she took a while. Then the shower stopped and she stuck her head around the corner. "Are you waiting for the shower?" she asked.
"Well, you may want to come back later I am going to be a while."
I just paused in sheer amazement. "No, I'll wait."
"Well I come early to shower."
"I do to. I learned that a while back given there are so many women having to use this one shower."
"As I said you may want to come back later, I hate to make you wait but I take long showers."
Not to be intimidated I smiled and said, "I have something to read I'll wait."
I could tell this did not please her, but as far as I knew no one anointed her Queen of the Nile. If I left, it would just encourage her and God knows when I would get a shower.
As Diana Ross sang "I'm Still Waiting".
Finally she finished. When she came out I could tell she still was not happy. But I held my own and smiled. The worse thing, there was little doubt in my mind she felt entitled and that I had bothered her. I don't think it dawned on her that even though she got to the shower at 5:15 or whatever time, she was still not entitled to that attitude. All she had to do was say something like, "Oh, I didn't realize anyone was waiting. I'll be right out." Had she had said that, I would have thought nothing of the amount of time she took.