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Tips for Tolerating co-Tenants Tenure in a VW Bus

by dustin sturges

Many years ago in a galaxy far, far away, I lived in a bus on BLM land outside of Zion National Park. I didn't exactly live in the bus. I had my own truck. The guy that owned the bus was my climbing partner. The bus was a pop-top and my buddy slept "upstairs;" so the downstairs was the living room. On nights that we weren't on the wall, we would congregate there, and drink ourselves into a coma with cheap, boxed wine. Things got a little tense every now and again, but all in all, these were some of the best times of my life.

One would think that this would be a definite step to simplifying one's life. Not so. The dynamics of living in close proximity to another human being boggle the mind. As such, and having done this for a while, I have some ground rules that will guarantee at least tolerance if not happiness.

1- IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT. Any little idiosyncrasies that you have will annoy people, get rid of them or take them outside of the bus. I realize that this is extremely difficult for some people. For a while, two girls were sharing a bus next to ours. One of the pair liked to listen to "Rage Against the Machine" at high decibels. Although she was widely hated throughout the campground, we all had to live with her. One particularly loud session ended with the sound of a little blonde forehead being bounced off of a flimsy, odd-shaped radiator. We never saw either of them again.

2- KEEP YOUR STUFF SEPARATE! There is nothing more conducive to homicide than an argument over who has dibs on the joint-purchase, shit shovel.

3- ALCOHOL AND DRUGS ARE GOOD. Living in a two-story VW, someone is going to step on someone's face when they get up in the morning. This is fact. The more sedated the both of you can be, the better.

4- KEEP ALL OF YOUR STUFF PACKED. You think it's bad having a messy roommate? Try subtracting 1000 square feet from the equation.

5- BE ABLE TO TAKE LONG WALKS. Preferably these walks should last for a few days. There is no better thing for a plutonic relationship than time off (if you do not own the bus, be able to take all of your stuff with you).

6- LEARN TO FORNICATE ON THE GROUND. This rule works well with #3 and #5. Nothing is worse than coming home to find your 57 square foot house rocking wildly from side to side - and don't even think of jumping in - something will get broken.

7- EVERYTHING IS EQUAL. If you eat together, buy half of the food. If a speeding ticket is acquired, half is to be paid by each party (assuming you were going to the same place). Nothing is more obnoxious than dead weight, and in the end, you're just trying to avoid being obnoxious.

8- BRING NO PETS. In a space that small, two is too much. Imagine returning to your automobile after an entire day of climbing to find the seats covered in poop, the door scratched, and a ticket on your hood in your name for your partner's dog (boy, did I catch hell for that).

9- BEAT THE HELL OUT OF EACH OTHER ON A REGULAR BASIS. This particular method of couple therapy only works if the two of you are evenly matched, but if that is the case, it's great. My friend and I looked like train wrecks toward the end of our partnership, but we never got along better. We got in fights in bar parking lots, poached hot tubs…. Anywhere. We even got into a full-blown fistfight suspended a few hundred feet off the ground in the middle of a wall.

10- IF ALL ELSE FAILS - OWN THE BUS. It is a hell of a lot easier to be the ejector than the ejected. Hitchhiking is fun only if that is what you meant to be doing.

If you follow these simple rules while you live with someone else in a bus, hell will still probably break loose, but if you adhere religiously to #10, you will be all right. Happy motoring, and good luck.