Arco (a Belgian Malanois and our retired military working dog) must wander the camper and inspect everything over and over and over while we are gone, until something starts smelling a little stronger with each new lap. And then if we aren’t home yet, he will smell it again, and decide to just give it a little lick, which turns into gnawing on a corner, until he decides it actually tastes like a cure for boredom, and then he eats the whole thing. Like the entire side of our couch last week. Coming home to see stuffing strewn about, I began panicking thinking it was one of the pricey American Girl dolls, until I realized it was the couch. I had just taken off my hat, and Arco, educated on the way I throw objects at him when I realize what he’s done, was already dodging a spiraling ball cap.
“Dang it dog! I know you’re bored!” I yelled at the bed upstairs because I knew he was hiding behind it. As I went to collect the stuffing from the floor, a black beast came barreling downstairs and launched himself across the pile, flattening his body and splaying out his legs, so that every piece was buried under his fur. It was as if he was saying, “These are MY STUFFINGS! All Mine!” And as I would try to grab a piece, he would shimmy his body around to lay on top of it so I couldn’t get it while giving me a stink eye. Reminding me of my parent’s nesting Labrador retriever before she gave birth to a litter of puppies, I let Arco keep his stuffing babies and went outside to calm down. The camper was bumping around, so I know he was in there repositioning them so he could lay on every one, like a giant creepy condor on a pile of eggs.
The list of broken or destroyed things in our camper is starting to outnumber the non-broken ones, and my patience for Crowded Camper living is wearing on me. That list includes:
Some of this stuff is covered under warranty, and some of it is not. But, what frustrates me, and I’m sure it frustrates all full-timers, is that to get your warranty work done, you have to take the RV to a dealer, leave it there, and then get it whenever they are done. The dealers around us told us they need at least three days to get everything done, and even then, they might have to order parts. So we would drive it there, they would evaluate all of the broken things, then have to call the companies that provide the warranties, and it’s hit or miss on what would get repaired. It would be at minimum two trips, and hotel stays on our expense. Two trips of moving out, and into a hotel with kids, dogs and the fish, plus whatever we needed for life. If Arco eats the stuffings out of our couch, I fear for what he would do to a shiny hotel room. Even the most well-behaved bomb dog can’t resist a mini-fridge at their nose height.
Why can’t warranty work be done on site? Why can’t companies send out professionals to inspect and complete work wherever you are? Obviously it costs more for them. But when we are traveling, they won’t even consider doing warranty work, unless we are able to sit still for weeks at a time. Some things like the TV, the LED lights, the broken drawer, the broken cabinets, and the bathroom stuff, all have to be repaired at a dealer. Basically if it’s connected to the camper, you have to take it in for work.
Now a few things, like the washer, CAN be fixed on site, but you pay for every trip they take, minus repairs if it’s under warranty. The washing machine couldn’t get fixed until now because we were moving. It broke under warranty, we notified the manufacturer, but they told us to call when we were in a stable position. Now, the warranty is past, and they will only cover half of the cost to replace it since we didn’t take care of it at the time we notified them (Military move doesn’t count). We argued until we were blue in the face, and that was the best we could get.
They sent their best Maytag repair technician out back in early March, and as we pulled into Fam Camp he said, “I’ve never worked on a washing machine in a campground.” “Oh,” Military Man replied. “This one is in our RV, not the laundry facility over there.”
“There are washing machines in RV’s?” he asked.
“Seriously?” I mouthed to Military Man.
“That’s the tiniest washing machine I’ve ever seen,” he commented when he saw it upstairs. Eventually he got it out, tested it like all other Maytag washers, and notified the big boss of the work to be done. He left saying he would be back in two weeks to fix it.
Two weeks later the technician scheduling office called to schedule a repair, but he never showed. When I called, I was told the parts were backordered, and he had no idea why they scheduled a repair. He was apologetic. I kicked the six piles of laundry I had waiting to cram into my repaired washer and took the dogs for a walk using my best swear words to feel a little bit better.
“I’m sorry ma’am, the drum is broken and it’s one of two parts. We won’t track down the backordered parts until we know exactly which one of them is needed,” Maytag told me over the phone after my walk.
“Well, the technician said he doesn’t know, and won’t know until he tries them both,” I replied.
“Well he has to figure it out first, because we can’t just find possible parts for everyone and then have to get them sent back if they don’t work.”
Passing the phone to Military Man before I stuck my virtual foot up their virtual backside over what became a Who’s on First debate, I decided I was completely over warranty work.
Do you ever feel like it’s a scam? It’s almost impossible to get anything repaired when you’re on the road. They won’t even deal with you, and pray you just run out of warranty or just go pay to fix it yourself.
At least when Arco eats the camper I know it’s totally on us, and we don’t have to call anyone to replace it. We can just go waste our money on a new one. Which is why the couch didn’t get replaced and I’m about to cover the destruction with duct tape.
“Your camper is at least 35 in RV years,” my dad said over the phone. “You guys have full-timed so much that even the luxury RV’s aren’t made to withstand that much of people and dogs.”
“I agree,” I replied. “I’m ready to trade it out for a company that actually cares!” “When it comes to warranty work, I think they’re all the same.”
“Do you think houseboats have the same warranty problems that RV’s have,” I asked Military Man over dinner.
“Probably more. I’m guessing barnacle removal would put you in the shop for weeks…”
As my 36th birthday came and went, and the camper continued to fall into further disrepair, I told Military Man something had to change before I went camper crazy. And just like every other fed up RVer, we went to Lowes and ordered a new washer. Taking a month to get here, at least I felt good that something was being done. Obviously Maytag is smiling because we went out and did what they hoped we would, but every now and then, some things just aren’t worth the fight. Actually we haven’t told Maytag. We’re hoping they’re still trying to sort out what part we might need.
My daughter was being bullied in the first school we put her in here in Tucson, and it was a disaster experience. Now THAT we fought over, removed her from the school, and patiently waited to decide what to do next.
In our patience and my month of homeschooling, a private Christian school emerged encouraging us to let her finish her kindergarten year with other children. Nervous to try again, we agreed that if everyone stayed in the camper as much as we were, then it was sure to not survive the summer, the kids would likely kill each other, and I would die of stress induced spontaneous combustion. So off she went and she loves it. Loves it is an understatement. She wakes up at 5am ready to get dressed, and she greets us with a grin at the end of the day. Happiness has replaced her frustration, and kindness replaced moodiness. No amount of camper destruction can take away the joy on her face from new friends, new experiences and a new safe place to learn.
I’ve since decided to use my birthday money on a new outdoor TV, and once again, we are spending our own dollars to fix something that warranty should cover. But I have NO desire to spend my money to stay in a hotel while they fix the TV, when the bill to just buy one would be less.
As we’ve just declared Warranty Work to be dead, I feel more alive in the Crowded Camper and optimism abounds. I have the control to do whatever I want, and I don’t have to spend time on the phone arguing over parts when I could be outside practicing tee ball with my kids before the sun sets on another beautiful day.
I’m ready for outdoor movies again, for happy children again, for peace in the Camper and the usual whump whump when the clothes get lumped to one side in the machine, sending the camper into a bump n jump for thirty minutes and water sloshing from the fish tank. The fish loves that, as Jake no longer does cannon balls on the couch causing the same effect. Soon Diesel, the washer will be fixed and you can puff up like a tiny lion all day long.
And things can finally get back to normal. Well that is until the kids start yelling that Arco is at it again.
“What did he do now?” I shouted last night before bed. “He’s drinking my juice box!” screamed Jake. And sure enough, because Jake thinks the floor is his table, the juice box was there and Arco had his lips around it in a desperate attempt to get the contents out. I don’t think he was “drinking it” but he sure looked like it. I paused, reflecting that he appeared to be sipping it daintily like a lady enjoying her afternoon tea…
“Son of a Bi$th ARCO! That’s not yours!” I shouted. Dodging my purse in mid-flight, he disappeared behind the bed upstairs and I was left to console my tiniest tee ball player.
That was his very first snack prize after his very first game… A momentous occasion, as we all remember the snacks after games, right? Standing there with nothing but his underwear on and his new Braves baseball hat, lip stuck out in a massive pout, I felt joy in my heart that we were finally getting back to normal.
It’s good to just move past the Warranty Rut, and take responsibility for everything ourselves. At least we know it will finally get done.
Well, everything except the Dish upstairs. Ahem… Military Man. (Although reruns of Mr. Belvedere are actually pretty entertaining
On a different note, one of Jeremy’s coworkers and friends from our former base was in a boating accident about a week ago. She lost her leg, and is currently recovering at the San Antonio Military Medical Center. If you’d like to follow her progress, observe her incredibly positive attitude through it all, and pray for her, her blog is here www.oneleguponlife.wordpress.com
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Order “The Crowded Camper goes to Little Rock” on Kindle or in Paperback. It is FREE for Kindle Unlimited Members! Leave a review when you’re done please~This entry was posted in Uncategorized by Rebecca with 2 comments