Thursday, April 28, 2011

R.V. Shrink Qualifications

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I want to ask you a question, but I feel I should know if you are a qualified RV shrink before I trust your advice. I have read many of your columns and it seems to contain good common sense. Lately, I have seen comments from readers accusing you of being a quack. That makes me a little nervous. If you could give me a little background information to assure me, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you in advance.
Doubting Thomas, Tacoma, WA

Dear Thomas:
I graduated from USMC at the top of my class. It is also known as the “School of Hard Knocks.” I received a tremendous amount of on-the-job training. It is a very specialized program that is literally drilled into you. I could not have graduated without the skills I would need to go out into the field and help others.

As for my RV background, it started late in my life. It wasn’t until I was six that my parents and grandparents bought an Airstream travel trailer. When I was seven I found a guy under the back-end of our trailer, lying on his back, studying our septic system. My dad asked him what he was doing. He said, “I think I can make a better dump valve than this.” We were in a Michigan State park. The guy’s name was Frank Sargent. He was an engineer with AC Spark Plug. He later started a small company called Thedford. He was from Thedford County Michigan. (Just a little history lesson.)

Also Wally Byam taught my brother how to open a locked trailer door without a key. A wrecked trailer came into the factory one day and it was locked. Wally gave the knob a rabbit punch from underneath and it opened right up. My brother picked right up on that. In fact, he knocked several knobs off our trailer before my dad broke him of the habit. As a teenager I worked all through high school for the largest Airstream dealer in the country, Warner Trailer Sales in Pontiac, MI. Many of our customers were GM engineers developing Wide Track Pontiacs and other gear that would advance the RV industry. I used to polish Ed Bowen’s Airstream once a year. You might recognize that name if you have a Atwood Bowen water heater. He and his son also developed Fort Wilderness for Disney. (Another history lesson.)

One of the most important lessons I learned from hanging around the trailer sales was this: Don’t wait until your 65 to retire.

I started right away. I bought the 1964 GMC Suburban that we used to haul trailers up from the Jackson Center, Ohio factory. My dad and I made it into a camper. I didn’t even wait for my high school graduation ceremony. I lit out for a summer of camping and backpacking all the way to the West coast and home through Canada. That didn’t quite cure me. I got married when I was 24 and told my wife we should travel for a year. We bought an Avion and didn’t come back for a decade. Since that time we have had an Airstream and now a motor home. I have seen many changes in the RV industry, both from a camping and equipment viewpoint. I also spent 22 years publishing “The Dick E. Bird News,” mostly baloney, with a few facts. Included was a “Dear Dick E. Bird” column. They used to call me a quack then too.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink


Anonymous said...

I'm not a shrink, but I did stay at a Holidy Inn Express last night.

Semper Fi!

Anonymous said...

Shrink was doing great until last week, when he let a whiney shrew of a woman off the hook to continue to make her poor husband miserable.

Adapt, overcome - kick the shrew out the door.

Dennis said...

Graduating from the USMC is enough for me, Doc. Semper Fi.

D. Olsen

Anonymous said...

Experience is the best education and your qualifications are good enough for me.

Anonymous said...

His "school of hard knocks" and common sense outweigh any piece of parchment on the wall. He gets my vote of confindence!

T'Siri said...

As a fellow alumnus of the School of Hard Knocks, PhD., I concur. Growing up in the industry and living the life qualifies you more than adequately to counsel others. Whether they choose to listen or not is up to them. That being said, this column is fun- humorous, facts and fun.
Relax- life is to short to be too serious all the time.
I'm turning 50 this year- buying my first trailer since spending time in them in the 60's (they've changed- yipee!), and I'll be hitting the road for an "early working retirement." Why wait?

Anonymous said...

I have a BS, MS, PhD & MD degrees, but having grown up on a farm I learned many things that are practical.
"Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from poor judgement."
Take a look in your mirror and have a good laugh.

Jerry X Shea said...

When I read the very first post you did, I said "this is a tongue-in-cheek post." Keep it up (the post that is)as they are fun to read.

Tom Boyte said...

Dear Shrink,
As a retired member of the USMC with 20 years service. We all know that USMC stands for the "University of Science,Music and Culture". At least that's what I told people who asked about my tatoo.