Yesterday the fates collided and everything went wrong at the same time. I had to drive our 44′ fifth wheel for the first time, under less than ideal circumstances. Don’t feel sorry for me, though. This is a cautionary tale and much of this misadventure was my own making. In addition, I encountered some truly amazing people during my ordeal.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Yesterday I was rewarded for three years of procrastination while my husband was away on a business trip. You see, we have a 44’ long monster of a fifth wheel RV that we pull with a dually truck. Sean has always been the driver up to this point, with me watching and asking questions, but never doing it myself. I kept thinking I would try it on the next trip… So now that he is out of town, guess what happens?
Loss of Power
The night before last the power to the RV went out. We’re in Florida, and it is August, so it was hot. Luckily we have a generator. I was able to run it until 11pm per the campground rules. After that I was able to get a bit of a cross breeze between the two bedroom windows overnight.
I turned the generator back on in the morning and made it to the RV goods store when it opened in hopes that a new power cord would remedy the problem. It didn’t. Then the generator failed. To recap, we’re in Florida, in August.
No Mobile Repair Technicians
I quickly began calling (and leaving messages) for every mobile RV repair technician in the area. Guess what? Every single one was booked solid or unwilling to go through the security procedures to get onto the military base we’re staying.
This lead me to the realization that the only way this sucker was getting fixed was hitching it up and driving it myself. While terrified at the prospect, I really had no other option, so I began calling service centers to see who could do it. I learned that many could… next month!
The Kindness of Strangers
Finally, at about 3pm, I conveyed my predicament to the office manager of a locally owned RV repair shop who asked when I was looking to bring it in. She put me on the speaker phone with the owner, and at the end of my rope, I tearfully conveyed I was sitting in my truck with my cat and they were my last hope. John Mengler of A1 RV Repair in Malibar, Florida, and an angel in my book, said, “Come on down. I will wait for you.”
Overcome with relief, I was determined to hook up the behemoth and get it down there pronto. I’ve assisted my husband with the breakdown of our site and hooking up the fifth wheel, but never done it all myself. Not wanting to keep John waiting any longer than necessary, I went to work like a bat out of hell. When it came time to hitch up and roll out, a kind neighbor came over and spotted me. And I was off—driving the beast for the first time!
I arrived at the shop at the time John would normally be locking up, but he went straight to work assessing the problem. Bobbie, the sweetest soul I’ve ever met, took me and my cat under her wing. She offered us both refreshment and helped soothe my frazzled nerves. She even offered me (and my little calico cat) a place to stay the night if John didn’t have the right part to fix our power supply’s transfer switch. However, the change in luck kept going, John did have the part. He stayed and fixed my RV that evening! While John was working on the RV, Bobbie allowed me to accompany her on some errands. We even fed her chickens! It was fun and took my mind off things.
I finally returned to the campground at twilight to attempt to negotiate back into my spot. Naturally, I was having difficulty when a lovely couple who had just arrived that day happened by. I was so grateful that they helped guide me in.
- I should have learned to hitch up and drive the RV from the start. Instead I let fear, and the belief that my husband would always be around to do it, hold me back. That was a very bad choice on my part.
- There are good people in this world! It was quitting time for John and Bobbie when I showed up on their proverbial door step and they both stayed to help a stranger in a bind. There are no words to convey how much their kindness means to me. It restores my faith in humanity at a time when it seems there is so much hate and vitriol around us. I will try to find ways that I can “Pay it Forward.”
- Protect your electrical system. The problem was most likely due to a power surge, and we didn’t have a surge protector! We promptly went out and bought the one below and will never plug in without it again!
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