If you want the short story of my experiences at Reggae on the River, 2015, it goes like this: I planned; I attended; I enjoyed. There, all done. However, it is my custom to use my blog to not only recount experiences, but to extract from them some sort of sage assessment.
Each episode will consist of a vignette written to stand by itself, but which will also link with all of the others to attempt to imbue the reader with a basic understanding of what the attraction is to gathering with thousands of others along the Eel River every August, when it is most likely to be hot.
#21: The Conclusion: Yikes!
I have never been incarcerated, unless you want to count the 21 months and three days I spent in the US Army, which I guarantee you, I did count for about forty years or so because I got drafted. I got over it, though, and now I have free VA health insurance.
Why are we talking about jail? I mentioned in yesterday’s post, “Uncle,” that we had two chores to perform on the Tuesday following the end of Reggae on the River, 2015, that required strong backs and weak brains.
The first was to break down the two kitchens, including returning the mammoth Wolf stove/oven back to the Mateel Community Center in Redway, and the second was to haul the leftover supplies from the kitchens, to the base camp for the firefighters battling local wildfires.
Unlike the Herculean job that moving the stove a week ago had been, today it was a breeze. Nine guys and one old jaboney scurrying around looking incredibly industrious made short work of it. If only I had had a clipboard.
These guys need me like they need powdery mildew and I’m a lot more willing to stay out of their hair, if it means I do not have to try and help move the aircraft carrier anchor.
Someone had a clipboard when it came to sorting through the huge refrigerated storage trailer, separating out what was to be donated to the firefighters, from what had other destinations, unknown to me. I only knew that by the time we had loaded up two trucks and a trailer with food, and a third truck with two pallets of cases of bottled water, there was a lot of quality free supplies being laid on the firefighters.
A funny thing happened to me and Casey, though, as we caravanned our way up to Redway, and pulled into the base camp. Instead of a welcoming CalFire insignia, the sign read, somewhat frostily in the August heat, “California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation Facility.”
Oh boy. How fun for us, though I can’t imagine anyone giving us the remotest of hard times. Famous last words and all, you know.
“Everything good under the hood?” I asked Casey, who shrugged and remained noncommittal. We followed Nate until he pulled up in front of a low, wide structure, which had a long concrete sidewalk running the length of it, to facilitate just such deliveries, I imagined.
An inmate, dressed in one of those fashionable orange jumpsuits, operated a forklift which then transported the pallets of supplies over to the front of the low building. There the pallets awaited the next step, certain to come soon because it was well over ninety degrees in that parking lot, and most everything had come out of the refrigeration unit in French’s Camp.
I had been asked by kitchen director Melody to take some pics of the whole happy transaction, hopefully with lots of personnel dressed in blue, beaming and shaking hands, gracious in their appreciation not only for the valuable supplies, but for those of us hardy enough to deliver it.
She asked the right guy at the right time and I was endeavoring to carry out her instructions, focusing on the two pallets of just-unloaded bottled water, and taking a couple photos from different angles. Out of the corner of the lens, I saw what had to be a bigwig making his way in our [my] direction, even as I included him in one of my renowned photographs.
There you go. He couldn’t help but notice that I got him in that last pic. He’ll love it. These honchos always do.
I guess he knew a good thing because he headed straight for me, apparently intent on thanking me for my work.
“Hey YOU!” and there could be no doubt as to whom he was addressing.
“ARE YOU TAKING PHOTOGRAPHS?”
Here’s your sign.
He had stormed right up to me, almost landing right on top of my sandals with the toes of his polished wingtips. The way he said “photographs” he may as well have been asking if I was dropping a deuce.
That happy, huh?
Without waiting for a response from me, he asked another toughie.
“What the f**k are you doing taking pics of my correctional facility?” His nostrils flared in three-part harmony to his strident voice.
Fighting the impulse to say something mature like, “Be careful or we’ll take our food back,” I said instead, “I vass only following ze orders, Herr Commandant!” while snapping off a Heil Hitler at him.
Fine, what I actually said was, “Someone asked me to,” and waited for the inevitable backhand across the face.
“You are in a California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation Facility,” he intoned, obviously more impressed than I. “You cannot take photographs in a California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation facility.”
Really? I can’t? Well, someone has been snapping pics left and right for five minutes now, but not anyone I know...
“I was unaware that there were restrictions, your Honor. I was merely carrying out the request of the benevolent proprietor of the facility which kindly donated all of this food.”
“Damn right there are RESTRICTIONS. The next thing I know you’ll be posting pics on Face/Book.”
He’s not as stupid as he looks.
Now I had him. “Excuse me? Do I LOOK like the kind of individual who posts s**t on Face/Book?” Now it was my turn to draw out the word Face/Book as though it were some two-day-old vomit, just recovered from ROTR, as I stroked my musteard, extending almost down past my nipples, were they visible.
“You got me there,” he said and almost cracked a grin.
“Look,” I pressed on because I thought I had the advantage. “I was asked to take the pics, you’ve made it clear that it was not OK, I got the message, and we’re good.”
“Well, we better be good,” he went on victoriously, “Now put that camera away and don’t let me see it again.”
No problem General, Sir, just as soon as I post the one of your smiling face...on Face/Book, while tagging Jerry Brown.
I mean, I got it. There were rules and were any of the pics to end up in the wrong place, someone could come after Herr Commandant. I should have felt something more than I did. When all was said and done, he had reamed me a new one, and all I had done was stand there and take it.
On the flip side, he had to come back tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that, and I would not be back for another year, after ROTR, 2016 was completed, and I was helping to distribute leftovers to the firefighters.
Next year I would know not to bring my camera.
If you want the short story of my experiences at Reggae on the River, 2015, it goes like this: I planned; I attended; I enjoyed. There, all done.
If you want to go a little more in depth, then you have job security, all twenty-one installments.