Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Parking lot 'parking'...SAMS
Last night was a new one for us - a visit from the local police.
Place of the crime: Woodstock, GA Sams Club
Time of the crime: 10pm
Weather: light sprinkles
Conditions: fairly empty parking lot
Now, we've traveled over 107,000 miles in our Palazzo diesel motorhome throughout all the continental U.S. states, Alaska, and most all provinces in Canada. We've certainly had our share of staying overnight in a mostly vacant parking lot at the big box stores, including retail, hardware, and membership clubs, with no issues. Matter-of-fact, most any interaction with anyone related to the business has been positive - with no questions or concerns about our being there for an overnight.
Last night was a little different. We pulled into a Sams Club, well north of Atlanta, to overnight before proceeding south to Macon.
Another motorhome with tow vehicle was already in the lot, off to the side, and enjoying their time there.
We pulled to the far back where no one else was even close. It was nice. No one around. No traffic driving by. And, our son and daughter-in-law stopped by for a hour's visit, which by then was dark.
After they left, we fell into bed, and watched a little 'Perry Mason' while getting comfortable. All the employees had left. Little was going on, for sure.
I then noticed a slow passing vehicle out my bedroom window. I realized it was a police car, coming from around the rear of Sams, from the trucking area. It looked as if it was slowing to really get a good view of our 'RV'. This is not uncommon, and actually they are people, too, and like to see big rigs up close, and usually just mosey on around the lot, giving little concern to us 'parking' there.
This one, though, circled around and parked next to our door. I then knew that this might not be the 'normal' drive-by from a police car, so I got up and threw on a shirt to open the door and welcome the visiting police office before they could possibly rap on my door. I almost had my hand on the door handle before a loud 'RAP RAP RAP' blasted the air waves. 'WOW!', I thought, they must REALLY be ready to read us the riot act.
I opened the door, noticed the uniformed officer, and spit out the words 'Yes SIR!, How can we help you?!', before I also just then realized that it was not a 'sir', but a 'maam'. She also corrected me, while I apologized and corrected myself.
But, as I had existed so quickly, I also assumed that she then knew that I 'knew' she was there before she 'came a knockin' and was probably taken a little aback because most folks don't necessarily respond so politely or with a proactive positive stance. She quickly informed me, very politely, that the city does not allow overnight parking, but we could move down to a truck stop or fuel station several exits away, which would be o.k..
I didn't raise my voice, or make an any accusation, other than to only respond that we could certainly do that, but responded also that we were Sams Club members, and Sams had always welcomed and allowed us overnight RVrs. She nodded and mentioned that it was really only a city 'ordinance' that was in play. I didn't put up any fight, but only responded that we would find a walmart or home depot or lowes down the road to park at... we had no problem honoring her request.
It was a nice interaction, and both of us left with no ill feelings.
I then started to get the coach ready to move, pulling in the slides, pulling in the awning(yes, most of the time the awning is not 'out' in a parking lot for overnight, but since we had visitors earlier, the awning was out about 2 feet to cover the entry door when they arrive and departed), etc.
I then walked out and back to the rear of the coach to check on the tow car. About at that moment another police car pulled up nearby, and two fully-adorned officer gentlemen stepped out and started walking toward me.
I paused, thinking that 'oh no, I'm going to have to tell these two that I'd already had a visit from one of their fellow officers and was in the process of moving'
...BUT, they didn't ask me to move, but actually APOLOGIZED and told me that we didn't HAVE to move. Crazy, but apparently the original officer was somewhat 'new' to the beat, had been told to 'monitor' the parking lots in the area, and was certainly doing her 'job' to ask us to move, though it might have been a little premature. The other officers said that while the city has an overnight ordinance, they didn't realize that SAMS CLUB would allow us to park there. They even mentioned that the OTHER motorhome owner had responded exactly the same way - they were SAMS CLUB members, and Sams has no problem with them overnighting in the lot.
The officers were VERY nice and very apologetic about the initial misunderstanding, telling me that they knew it was quite a job to get one of these 'rigs' ready to move, and for us to feel just fine to stay overnight.
Now, that's a type of 'run in' with the Law that makes for a nice evening afterwards.
One interesting point is that there were no signs, not a single one.
It also might go to show that a easy, positive attitude and response to any 'visiting' officer may go a long way to a polite encounter, and a learning experience for both, where you ultimately have to move on, or not.
two Campers, two Electric cars
former diesel pusher traveler