Black Rock City Post Office (BRCPO)
Theme Camp Burning Man Journey Log, 2000
The Soup Caravan rolled onto the Playa today at 10 pm after an uneventful day of travel, except that the CBs had malfunctioned again and we were relying on the hand held 2-ways to communicate from vehicle to vehicle and were nearly separated twice as a result. We were all surprised and delighted to be Greeted by an entire shift from our Soul Camp, the Costco Soul Mate Trading Outlet (CSTO)! What a sight for sore eyes — an entire troupe of merry pranksters in red Costco uniforms and badges, welcoming us home to the Playa! Already that magic of receiving the exact experiences you need from the BRC community when you need it was taking effect!
After temporarily settling in to wait until morning to find our exact designated Theme Camp location, some of the members of our camp went back out to the Greeters Station to blow off travel stress by making sure that everyone else arriving that night felt a resounding “Welcome, Home!” too.
Once we found our assigned space, the fine weather permitted an easy camp set up. Working together, the shade went up, the facade went up, the neon went up, and the camp kitchen came together as soon as everything was out of the big truck. Still no shower. Only a few of the more mutinous members of the crew succumbed to immediately being caught up in the swirl of the city before our theme camp set up was completed.
By 10 pm, we had run our first Postal Orientation Meeting (POM) to coordinate with volunteers who weren’t camping with us and decide how we — as a group — would all run the BRCPO.
Playa Time has set in. The entire crew has already lost track of what day of the week it is! In the morning, half a dozen of us headed out to the Greeter’s Station again — this time to collate 5,000 Immigrations, Nationalization’s, and Socialization’s Services (INSS) forms into the handouts. On the way back to camp, we spread the rumor among the natives that if they don’t fill out the form and get their Green Card from the BRCPO, they will not be able to use the porta-potties after Thursday and that Rangers will be checking. We are hoping that this rumor will induce people to volunteer and participate more… The weather was fine and we were in high-spirits!
By this evening, the BRCPO is running itself entirely of it’s own and the volunteer’s volition. Participants are standing in line in order to be mockingly “bureaucratically harassed” and receive their Green Cards. (I was struck by one woman who had to beg a volunteer: “Stop! My face hurts from laughing!”)
As a theme camp organizer, I am beginning to grow concerned today. It was blustery and chill last night. Two of our mutinous crew members returned to us with exposure. The weather has gone from mild to nasty, with 70 mph winds and dust storms. We have so many stamps, post cards, and so much paperwork to keep battened down in order to Leave No Trace! We have decided not to build the second stage of our theme camp, the “Soup Pavilion.” Although we have a shower in our camp, it is now too cold to shower. Such is tent life!
Our BRCPO volunteers are working up to 16-hour shifts despite our behest, and there are an ever-growing number of them. Even during the 70 mph winds the Delivery Specialists are delivering mail, while helping the mail recipients hold down or rebuild their structures. (I have grown convinced that participation through volunteerism at BM is more addictive than drugs!)
The BRCPO theme camp organizers spent the better part of the morning being “charged” at the Hall of Justice (HoJ) for not harassing our volunteers enough. We then spent the better part of the afternoon rectifying our loss in this suit and following the particulars of the HoJ-ordered injunction to provide more stimulating harassment to the volunteers.
It had been cold but sunny in the morning, but by evening their was cold bitter rain. For amusement, we enticed two off-duty Rangers to stand by the porta-potties in Center Camp to check for Green Cards. This caused an exodus from the Café where people were huddled to come play with the BRCPO.
Last night many people had left the city because of the weather. Despite the exodus, the porta-potties have coned throughout most of the city. Still too cold to shower. We are running low on baby wipes.
Our volunteers have settled into their own momentum. They have a rhythm and a “governmental” schtick down pat. A famous musician came today to get his Green Card after successfully completing INSS Form 18794A/2C: Spontaneous Volunteerism at BRC. He was tired and cranky like the rest of us and tried to name-drop to cut in line. He didn’t have 3 forms of valid ID, so he was sent to the back of the line for trying to name-drop; he patiently waited. (I am quite proud of the equality and non-exclusivity with which the volunteers treat all BRC participants!)
Cut-through in camp has become unbearable and dangerous. Late last night two members of our camp were injured by bicyclists weaving their way among our closely placed tents. Only scrapes and bruises resulted, but the situations could have been much worse if our tent stakes weren’t all made of bent rebar pounded flush with the Playa! (Protruding rebar with “plastic caps” may have resulted in deep punctures with the weight of a falling body and serious injuries…)
We experienced our highest volume of BRCPO visitation today, waiting in line to get confessional post cards for us to burn with the Man. Cold all day, but clear and starry skies at night in time for the burn. Playa Time has some of us camp organizers convinced that it is earlier than it is and we miss the Burn. We take the confessional cards to the ritual fire barrel from which the Man is lit and burn them there instead.
Today it is cold and clear, but I have exposure and have been advised to stay in doors. One of our neighbors let me rest in his RV. The BRCPO volunteers brought me updates; things ran smoothly and humorously. Tonight it is cold, very cold. There are many more big explosions in the night.
It is warm today and hot in the afternoon. Our Co-Camp/ SoulCamp, Costco, is busily rounding up the extra food and provisions from all over the city that people always bring anticipating that they will eat normally on the Playa. Tonight they will host the “Perishables Party” for the official BM volunteers who will remain to clean the Playa.
We are hurriedly breaking down in less time than it took to set up the BRCPO, but are being very careful to Leave No Trace. (Some of us are very motivated by the prospect of a Reno buffet and a shower!) There are tearful good-bye’s all around, but we are already excitedly discussing our plans for next year as year-round contact information is exchanged!
by Sylvia Van Vleck