Ben Oostdam story # 329


After my elderly lady friends, as well as the British Girl and I myself, had been "ejected" from the cheap La Jolla Hotel on the occasion of its renovation to the fancy Hotel Valencia, I had no place to stay.

I did not mind, because at SIO I shared an office with my friend and colleague Andy. This office not only had a lab counter with a sink, but also two desks, a large bookcase and a drafting table. So I got myself a sleeping bag and an inflatable pillow, and when I was done studying late at night, I could take a cramped bath in the sink and then go to sleep in my sleeping bag under the drafting table.

I told the janitor not to bother emptying my wastepaper basket, because I would take care of that myself. But every night two security officers would unlock the door, walk in and look around. For months, I would just hold my breath and they never noticed I was sleeping there.

Then one night, I saw one of them shine his flashlight into the waste paper basket and utter some profanity. They stormed out of the door and came back with the janitor in tow.

"Why did not you empty this can?" one of them asked pointing at a used match I had not bothered to remove. The janitor was apparently very frightened and replied: "Because the guy told me that I should not do it!"
"What guy?' the other officer asked.
"That one there." the janitor said, pointing to the drafting table.
The pair of them approached, and one bent down shining his flashlight into my face.
I did a good simulation of being asleep, and all three walked out, the janitor carrying the basket instead of just taking out the single used match.

A few minutes later they came back with their Security Chief, who gently shook me awake - he thought. I crawled out of my sleeping bag and said that I was just sleeping there that night because I had been studying late for an exam.
He said that it was ok for one night but that I should not do it again, because it was considered trespassing ..
I thanked him and promised not to trespass again, as long as he would me allow to go back to my sleeping bag till the morning.

I spent most of the next day rigging up two boards in my jeep stationwaggon, as well as removable covers for the rear windows.
That night was the first of many more which I spent sleeping in my jeep, which I used to park in front of one hotel or the other.

For those concerned about my (lack of) life style: I still had my office where I could bathe in the sink and use the toilet down the hallway.
This way I spent no more money on accommodations for the rest of the academic year, and actually saved enough to be able to pay my fare to visit my family in Holland two years later.

After our summer cruise exploring the Japanese submarine canyons, I did rent a relatively cheap place which was a neatly converted chicken house. The main reason for this change was that I needed a stove to allow me to fry the abalones we caught in the Cove and submarine canyons off SIO, so I could save more not having to eat outside dinners, which were getting rather expensive.
In my third year, three of us got together and rented a house and I grew accustomed again to a more "normal" life.

BLO fecit 20071108 - auto-biography: SIO years - stories