Just Because It’s Free Doesn’t Mean You Should Waste It

I’ve become the power police.

My Neighbor's TrailerThis photo shows the trailer parked in the spot next to mine. It’s been here longer than me and I suspect it isn’t going anywhere soon.

For a while, a family of four and dog lived in it. They kept weird hours. They’d come home between 9 PM and 11 PM, make a bunch of noise, and then go inside and (I assume) sleep. Occasionally, before turning in, one of them would do something in the car with the key in the ignition and the door open so it would beep-beep-beep for 20 minutes at a time. In the morning, around 10 AM to 11 AM, the door would open and they’d begin spilling out in their pajamas. After screwing around at the trailer for a while, they’d leave. The whole process would start again that night.

About a month ago, they started leaving the “porch” light on. This makes sense when you know you’re going to get in late, but what bugged me is that they never turned it off. And while this isn’t a huge deal if they’re parked all by themselves, their porch light is about 10 feet from one of my bedroom windows. It’s so bright outside at night that I actually woke up in the middle of the night last week and thought it was morning.

It was morning. One o’clock in the morning.

I considered asking them to turn if off at night when they got in, but I was too embarrassed. They were a family of four in a 20-year-old 22-foot travel trailer with a dog. I was a family of one in a brand new 36-foot fifth wheel trailer with a parrot. I had no right to whine.

About two weeks ago, they started leaving the air conditioning on all day long, even when they — and their little dog — were out. They also left the two top vents and one of the windows open. Air conditioning on, windows closed isn’t bad. Air conditioning off, windows open is good. But air conditioning on, windows open is wasteful — especially when no one is home.

The campground we’re in is dirt cheap: $200 per month for a full hookup! There’s no electric meter, so you can suck as much power as you want. But that doesn’t mean you should suck power when you don’t need to. Or blatantly waste it.

About a week ago, they stopped coming home. I don’t know where the hell they are. For all I know, they’ve been deported.

So now there’s a vacant trailer next door with its porch light on, shining into my bedroom window, and the air conditioning blowing cold air out the open vents and windows. 24/7.

It gets cool here at night — in the 60s most nights. The kind of night you want to leave your windows open to feel the fresh breeze and hear the wind in the trees.

Of course, with windows and blinds open, I get to hear the air conditioning from next door and have that damn light shining on me.

I mentioned the light to some folks I had dinner with last night. They all told me to pull the bulb out.

But last night, I did something better. I snuck around to their electrical box and turned off their circuit breaker. Instant silence, instant dark.

I slept very well last night.

They didn’t come home. Although I was tempted to leave everything turned off, I know they have an electric refrigerator — the kind you buy for a dorm room; I saw them bring it in the day I moved in — and I was worried that the food inside it (if there was any) would spoil. So before taking my walk this morning, I flicked everything back on.

Tonight, I’ll flick it off again.

I figure that if they show up, they’ll just assume the circuit breaker popped. Maybe they’ll even get the idea that they shouldn’t leave the air conditioning on when they’re not around.

5 thoughts on “Just Because It’s Free Doesn’t Mean You Should Waste It

  1. Great stories,I just found your site about Helicopters,and now this,I think you should also write folk songs as I would love to play and sing them.

  2. There’s a Zen proverb I love:

    Though you live near a forest do not waste firewood.

    Your story reminded me of it. Cheers!

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