One of the many perks of living at Acorn includes our town trip system. Whenever members need something from town—be it a library book, ice cream, beer, materials for a project at hand, etc.—all they have to do is put it on the trip request sheet, and whoever has signed up for the next town trip will pick it up. Since our allowances can be adjusted digitally, the requestee never has to even see their money to have their needs and modest wants met: the tripper deducts the expenses of the items purchased on each town trip and charges them to the appropriate accounts. Upon the tripper’s return, the acquired items are delivered to their expectant owners.
And, for the tripper, personally fulfilling everyone’s tri-weekly Christmas list is a fairly enjoyable task in itself. Whereas the non-communitarian may feel drudgery in running their own errands, the consolidated, utilitarian, and of course, labor-creditable act of fulfilling the communities’ errands inspires selfless heroism and virtue. A handful of routine and semi-routine activities serve to establish a familiar pattern that each tripper can look forward to and plan for in the most efficient means possible:
-pick up the PO box mail for the Business (every trip)
-drop off community mail at the Post Office (most trips)
-go to the bank (most trips)
-pick up food and alcohol requests (almost all trips)
-drop off excess produce at the local food bank (often)
-pick up parts/garden equipment/misc. supplies at a hardware store (almost all trips)
-dumpster at the local grocery stores (preferably every trip, at the discretion/preference of the tripper)
-pick up/drop off books at the library (often)
-check thrift store for commie clothes/misc finds (at tripper’s will)
To prevent excess car use, I will often do the town trips if I already have business to take care of in town. One such example was a meeting with officials of the City of Louisa Center of Community Development to acquire building permits for upcoming construction. As I approached the brick façade full of Professionals and Officials, I experienced a slight twinge of apprehension—in general, I take pride in the maintenance (or lack thereof) of a less stereotypical, less polished appearance. In this instance though, I worried that my appearance was conspicuously ungainly and would be met with appalled stares.
After such a formal office setting, I decided to do the least socially acceptable task of the trip next—dumpstering. As I hoisted myself inside the Food Lion dumpsters (in broad daylight, mind you), I could feel the airs of the well behaved being purged out of me with every morsel of food I reclaimed.
Another quasi-socially unacceptable task that I’ve recently incorporated into my town trip routine entails checking in with local restaurants to see if they have lidded buckets or other useful tupperware that can be used as seed storage containers. Although it took a little while to establish myself and my initially odd request, now most of the restaurants in Louisa know me by name and often have several containers waiting for me upon my arrival. This also provides opportunity to fulfill a secret motive of my own—initiating pleasant and friendly conversation with locals about their lives and experiences, and having an opportunity to talk a little about Acorn. Without cross-communication between the various members of our extended community, stereotypes and preconceived notions are left to thrive: The free-love, tree hugging hippy queers and their scary cult rituals vs. the backward anti-environment, anti-queer conservatives immersed in mainstream consumerist dystrophy. Of course I’m not expecting myself or others to change their world view after a mere exchange of pleasantries; my highest aspirations are to understand where people are coming from and vice versa. One day, as I walked across the parking lot to the next restaurant, a bumper sticker caught my eye: “I’ll take my GOD, my Freedom, my money, and my guns. You can keep your ‘change.’”
Although I fancy myself as an organized, responsible tripper, there have been times when this wasn’t entirely so. One such time was when the trip request sheet—the holy central organizing principle of the tripper—vanished from my possession early on in the trip. I had already driven to the next town by the time I realized it. I called the last place I remembered having it at—The Louisa Library—and sure enough, there it lay, abandoned on the counter. I was mortified. However, in a stroke of good luck, the front desk person who answered the phone was an x-communitarian herself, and was familiar with our tripper system and the invaluable content that the List provided. She volunteered to read off the requests in order to save me a trip back, an offer which I gladly accepted. She painstakingly relayed all the details of the list to me, down to the unusual names of the requestees. “This one’s from…Merdock…yes, it says gameday, whatever that means…” I quickly confirmed that I understood the request, chuckling to myself. A little further down was a request to return something at a hardware store. “this one’s from…Night Shade? It says return the box in the bag. Location, your rectum. Hmm…” At that point we both busted up laughing, I apologizing profusely and she reassuring me that she wasn’t offended.
After a productive town trip, I glean satisfaction in bustling back to the commune with a plethora of desired items, each one (hopefully!) precisely what was envisioned upon request. As I distribute the books, food, alcohol, snacks, hardware, and household items to their respective places/people, I bask in feeling accomplished and important.