by Tracie Shroyer, Launch Tech Expert
“Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no…” My husband NEVER swears, but he was swearing now. We were headed up a steep incline – mountain or hill, we weren’t quite sure - but we were definitely headed up with our 42-foot 5th-wheel travel trailer when our F350 made a very strange noise and lost power.
I turned and looked at him, mildly concerned about his uncharacteristic use of a swear word and asked, “Is this ‘Oh no,’ we’re about to die, or something a little less dramatic?”
Living in an RV and traveling the U.S. is a life-long dream for many people. We know this because after doing it ourselves for nearly three years, we’re finding far more people sharing campgrounds with us than there were when we started. RV sales are at record highs since COVID restrictions have been lifted.
Of course it is a dream to travel where we want, when we want, and to not have to worry about seasons. If it’s too hot, we go north. Too dry, we head to water. If we get sick of the ocean we go to the mountains. You get the idea.
Add to that the fact that we can move about as we like while maintaining social distancing and you’ve got an idyllic life.
I’ve worked with Judy for 10 years now, and there are definitely days when I’ve used the many centering skills I’ve picked up along the way. Sometimes just taking a deep breath works. Sometimes I need to try something a little more involved, like imagining the life of the person I’m in conflict with and trying to see the world from his or her perspective.
This most often happens when we’re pulling into a campsite. Especially when the campground has a policy requiring a staff member to help us pull into the site. Bret and I have been doing this a long time at close to a hundred campgrounds. We have a system. We get out, scope out the site, and make a mark where we want the back wheels to rest. Most of the time we get into the site on the first try using hand signals. No shouting, fighting or yelling required.
But when a helpful campground employee tries to assist Bret by ignoring me and yelling out directions to Bret, all bets are off. We get to the height of our frustration and it’s all I can do not to have a complete meltdown with the “helpful” man outside while Bret is safely in the air-conditioned truck chuckling softly to himself.
In those moments, I try my best to put myself in the place of the helper to think through his end goal. He’s seen a lot of people come and go, many inexperienced. He’s trying to be helpful and trying to protect the property. You’d be surprised how often a rig tears out the water spigot or hits an electrical tree, affecting the weekend for everyone there.
So, when we find ourselves in a situation with an overzealous employee, we’ve found a few tactics that work.
First of all, I try to remember to think of him as a helper rather than a control freak determined I do things his way. That helps a little.
Aside from that I will:
- Try to make a joke. Keep it light hearted and friendly. “How many rigs have you had to scrape off this tree?” Surprisingly, this disarms them and gives them battle stories to share while also making them aware I see the tree and am not about to let Bret hit it.
- Casually drop the name of some really difficult situation we’ve managed before… “Have you ever been to Fort Wilderness at Walt Disney World? Oh my goodness, if you can get in there, you can get in anywhere!”
- Find another rig parked nearby and get them commenting on that… “Wow, how did he get into that spot?” Usually this results in a story about how the helper saved the day when the other person was having trouble.
Are you seeing a pattern here? If I distract the “helper” and get him talking, he completely forgets what he was doing and Bret can focus on my directions. Before the helper realizes it, we’re safely in the site. Because we can do this without yelling from the back of the trailer to the truck, he usually doesn’t even realize I’m directing Bret.
When all else fails? I simply stand behind the helper so he can’t see me, but Bret can and direct Bret. The helper thinks Bret’s listening to him, but in truth, he’s watching me.
Those tactics work most of the time but, I do have to admit, I’m not perfect. When we hit a very large deer a few weeks ago with truck and trailer, were backed into by a cute grandma in a Prius, and couldn't find a level spot to park, all in a 24-hour period, I felt defeated and wanted to throw in the towel. I briefly imagined having a home and a life where I didn’t have to move and stress out about campsites and “helpers,” or having our home damaged by roaming wild animals or elderly women in tiny cars.
But then, in that split second, Bret answered my question: “We’re not going to die. The turbo just went out on the truck, the brakes are fine. We’ll be fine.”
As I looked out the window to the houses and town we were passing by, I remembered those people all have problems too. But many of them are dreaming of the life that I’m already living and I immediately found my center.
Tracie Shroyer lives her dream as a launch tech and strategy expert, helping dozens of online entrepreneurs launch their online course, membership, or other business project. I am also grateful that she's been by V.A. (virtual assistant) and business partner for over ten years. Thank you for your story, Tracie!