Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Motorhome Mama

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My wife drives me crazy when we travel in our motorhome. Most women have an iPhone but she is still clinging to our CB radio. It is so old our grandkids say, "Grandma, what's a CB?" I think she just likes talking to truck drivers, but she says she gets good information from them. All I ever hear is nonsense. They think she is another truck driver and I'm chauffeuring her down the road in a rolling palace. She pretends she's hauling a load of ripe bananas. Her handle is Shotgun Mama. I guess that's not as weird as it sounds. She is a mama and she is riding shotgun. She takes on a whole new personality when she has that mic in her hand. She can be a real ham. She talks with what I call a trucker's trademark. It is similar to kids texting today using abbreviated words. Truckers have a language all their own. They all talk with a southern accent whether they're from the south or not, and in a code we could use during the next war to keep the enemy from hacking our codes. How do I get my wife to listen to music while we meander down the road instead of creating airwave relationships with "Slim Pickens", "Doc Holliday" and "Leapin' Larry"? --Road Stage in Reading

Dear Road Stage:
Many people are still using CBs. It is still a great road forum of information. I know that today's GPS will tell you when you are coming on to construction, accidents and the like, but not as accurately as a trucker who just sat through it. For a trucker it breaks the monotony of long days of driving. Perhaps your wife doesn't get enough conversational stimulus from you. It could be she just likes getting out of her shell and enjoys role playing as you roll. The problem seems to be that it is annoying to you. I would think you could work out a program that would give you time for your music airwaves and she for her "Shotgun Mama" show. Some relationships enjoy more role playing than others. You might want to consider creating yourself a handle like, "Rooster," and talking to your wife in trucker lingo while she is on the CB. If none of that works perhaps you can find her a space further back in the motorhome to set up her "ham" radio show. --Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

RV Volunteer

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I can’t understand the government volunteer system. The ranks of volunteers for the National Park and National Forest Service seem to be growing rapidly. It sounds like a win-win situation for both seniors looking to volunteer and the government in a budget crisis. I completely understand the theory of supply and demand, but I do not understand rudeness. My husband and I have submitted volunteer applications to several parks offering to do most anything they need. It’s as if the applications go into a black hole. We have come to expect no communications from the Park Service, not even a “Thanks." This attitude will to some degree kill the goose that laid the golden egg if they continue to treat this "manna from heaven" help with such disregard. Am I right or am I just becoming an old curmudgeon? Maybe I am old fashioned, but I think even a form letter letting people know where they stand in the volunteer line would be nothing less than courteous.
 --Out of Line in Laredo

Dear Outy:
I have heard this complaint often lately. I know that places like Glacier National Park have hundreds of volunteer applicants that they cannot place every season. Many sunbelt parks have even more. They have many people who will commit to a longer term service and those who are already networked in from past service. These volunteers usually take precedence over new applicants. I think it is great that state and local governments have this resource of volunteers to draw from, but I agree that they should work on their communications. Most applications are made online and therefore could be efficiently kept informed the same way as to their chances of capturing a volunteer position.  It is a numbers game. Over 10,000 people will reach retirement age every day for the next 20 years. That is why you see all your favorite campgrounds filled, even during the off season and shoulder seasons. This same demographic is swelling the volunteer ranks. My only advice would be, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Get on the phone, find out who is making the decision on positions you are interested in and open some dialog.   My wife and I worked our way around the country for several years in our 20s and 30s. We never got a job by saying, “No.” If we were asked if we had experience doing something, we always said, “Yes.” It was only a little white lie until the first day on the job. I ran a D8 bulldozer in Alaska for about two hours one day before the boss came over and said, “You’ve never run a bulldozer before have you? I said, “I can’t say that anymore!” Since the government facilities are getting avalanched with applicants, you need to be the one to force communication. I know it seems odd to scramble for a volunteer position, but that is exactly what other applicants are doing to snag the positions they are interested in.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Back me up

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We are novice RV owners. We bought a large fifth wheel and my husband does all the driving. I do not care to drive it at all. My job is to help him back it into camping sites. Last week I was backing him in when a gentleman from an adjoining site came over and started giving my husband hand signals and kind of taking over my duties. I thought it was rude. He didn’t even ask me if we needed help. It was as if he was dismissing me. I felt rejected and let him park my husband into the fairly easy access site. After it was all over my husband seemed a little ticked. He didn’t say much to the neighbor, but later went ballistic with me. He said he never wanted a stranger to back him in again. It was my job and I should have let the guy know that we didn’t need his help. So we were both upset with the neighbor, but it seems we took it out on each other. Does that make any sense?
--Back me up in Big Bear Lake

Dear Big Bear:
This is not uncommon. It happens all the time. Most people are just trying to be helpful and neighborly and you should have a reaction all rehearsed ahead of time. Let them know in a nice way that you do this all the time and that you do not want any help. If they persist then you can become a bit more firm until they get the message. Helpful neighbors have nothing invested in your rig. If anyone is going to direct it into over-hanging branches, park posts or rocks, it should be you. If your husband felt that strongly, he should have exited the truck, straightened out the situation and continued parking the rig. It can be a little uncomfortable when you know someone is trying to help, but most people will understand if they are told you would rather work together. If they don’t take the hint, ignore them and continue to park your own rig. Let them stand there and flail their arms as long as your husband is only taking signals from you. Not everyone is comfortable backing up an RV and will appreciate all the help they can get even if it is a stranger with nothing invested. It’s all about communication, politeness, and being neighborly in the campground community.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink