The most brutal explanation is that this is pure snobbishness. RV park dwellers are the "ignorant masses," you see, and ol' Boonie doesn't want to waste his wisdom on them.
Most of the time the other person is the male half of a couple. The minute I realize that there is a woman in the picture, I lose all motivation to preach boondocking. And rightly so.
But in this case the man had no such encumbrances. It's always confusing to me to see single men not taking advantage of their opportunities. At any rate I soon dropped the proselytizing and turned toward his dog, who responded with great enthusiasm to the opportunities at hand, or rather, under paw. I certainly have no reluctance to corrupt a dog with elements of this lifestyle.
Although I've benefited from using solar panels over the years when camping outside campgrounds, and even though I was pulled into it by other people, I've never tried to be a solar mentor. Recently the neighbor of a friend, that I was staying with, wanted some advice on converting his "house", a trailer that never moves anymore, to solar. It is easy to smirk at this if you are looking at it purely in economic terms.
I've never understood the messianic appeal of solar panels to RV campers. Solar panels have proven themselves to be useful tools; but so too have small quiet generators, such as the Honda or Yamaha 1000 Watt models. Combined with a 40 amp battery charger, a generator can put in 80% of the energy that the four batteries are ever going to soak up, in 30-40 minutes. After that, running even a quiet generator gets obnoxious and expensive. Completing the charging and maintaining it during the day is the great advantage of solar panels. On the other hand, camping under the shade in summer is one of the most delicious pleasures of RV camping; how do you square that with solar energy production? Furthermore, not every day is sunny, even in the Southwest. Solar production really craps off in the afternoons when the summer monsoons hit. Am I supposed to just suspend life during those (relatively rare) days?
Anyway, there I was, acting as a consultant to a solar newbie. He was charged up with the zeal of the newly-converted. I was confused about how to act, never having played this role before. And since he didn't know my history of skepticism towards solar messianism, there was a humorous irony to the situation. Mostly I just listened to him, while considering the next move.
Now think of the famous beginning of the original Godfather, when Don Corleone (Marlon Brando), on "the day of his daughter's wedding," listened to a Sicilian immigrant explain a tragedy which occurred to his daughter. Don Corleone sat in his big desk chair and toyed with a half-grown kitty. Through visual information alone that scene introduces the Godfather to the viewer with such insight and economy. He was diplomatic, smooth, and manipulative, all with the threat of danger lurking in the background. (Amazingly enough, that wonderful scene was accidental. The cat was just a stray that was found wandering through the sound stage.)
Although barely able to control a smile, I listened to the solar newbie gush about his project. It was a beautiful thing to behold, actually. A 70-ish man feeling young and enthusiastic about a new project. He and his wife had been so friendly and kind to me. The Godfather and kitty cat simile went poof. I became protective and gentle with their solar project.
|One of the early daguerreotypes showing a relative of mine in her Little Bo Peep phase.|
Avoiding mistakes is the first place to start. For a mentor that means resisting the opportunity to show off how much he knows; he should keep it simple for their benefit. If they needed to hear endless arguments about tipping angles and wire gauges, they could go to a discussion forum.
Also it meant gently lowering their expectations of how well the solar project would work (at reasonable cost.) This doesn't mean undermining the project. It meant trying to maintain a playful sense of humor about it, especially with the poor wife who would be impacted all day, every day, by their solar system. Although the solar newbie did an excellent job of selecting equipment, he had no fuses in his system. So I put in a rather insistent advertisement for them, and made sure it was heard by the wife.
There are other examples of trying to be a mentor. Let them wait until next time.