Because the Conservation Corps was a state organization, we got pulled wherever they needed us. We were all trained to fight wildland fires and floods and once a couple of groups had to go to an area in the Sierras and comb the backyard of serial killers named Lake and Ng looking for teeth and personal items of victims. Since we lived right on the border of Humboldt County, one summer we were summoned to cook for CAMP (campaign against marijuana production). No one wanted to do it. For one thing, we didn't believe in it, for another it was dangerous. Most of the growers were Vietnam Vets and had all their fields booby-trapped with fish hooks at eye level and other ingenious snares. If they found out we were connected in any way, it could have been very bad for us. The bigwigs told us that if we didn't do it, we would all be fired. Myself, my boyfriend at the time and 2 others agreed to go so that everyone could keep their jobs.
CAMP was made up mostly of CHIPS cops (man, the state loves it's acronyms) from the LA area. Picture Panch and John, overweight and dressed only in camouflage. Do you feel the bile rising in the back of your throat yet? Yeah, me too. Of course, they wouldn't speak to us and just assumed we were prisoners. We were reminded several times a day to make sure we wore gloves when we served them their food. After all, you wouldn't want us convicts passing on the HIV to them.
Their job was to fly around in helicopters looking for weed (No more lookin' for weed in all the wrong places...). When they found it, they would land, cut it all down and confiscate all the shit on the property. Then as we saw, they pinched enough of it not to get caught - the stuff, not the weed. The weed was all still green. They then flew back in the helicopters with the cut down weed in a net hanging from the bottom of it. The helicopter always looked like it had lost one of its cajones when it was flying in. Once they arrived at the camp, they would put a bunch of gas on the weed and burn it in a huge, expensive and sad bonfire.
One day when we worked there, they had confiscated 180 lbs of Thai stick in the San Francisco Bay. It was quickly shipped up to Humboldt and what didn't get taken by the CHIPS guys, was burned in a bonfire for over a day. We took turns going down to the trailer where the pot fire mountain was and emptying the already empty garbage can. By dinner time, we had been slow roasted in pungent herbs. The CHIPS guys liked steak. Every night, they liked steak. I hadn't eaten meat for over a year at that point, but the steak looked so good. Duuuuude. So, I ate half of a steak and then got very, very sick.
The best part of this story is that the next day, my new boyfriend's mother was coming up from San Francisco to meet me and apparently judge me very harshly. Even if I hadn't had the hazy fazies from too much weed and been lost-enzyme-sick from eating steak, she still would have hated me. She was originally from Trinidad. In our first meeting, she asked her son very loudly in front of me, "Why do you want to date this woodsy looking white girl when there are so many beautiful, refined, black women in the city?" Then the rest of her stay, she constantly brought up his ex-girlfriends who were all still single and brain surgeon super models. I met a few of them later, after we moved to San Francisco and I was sorely disappointed.
I dated Mr. Man for 2 1/2 years and got to know his mother better during the relationship. She was totally crazy and always still wished I was black, but she ended up liking me in the end. When we finally broke up, she kept voicing these scenarios about how her son and I would meet when we were in our thirties and both finally had our shit together and we'd live happily ever after - who knows, maybe I would submit to some kind of pigment enhancing procedure too.
My ex-boyfriend's mom took this picture the day we met and as you can see, I'm not the only woodsy-looking person in it. Can you tell I'm still green around the gills, though?