Tight Squeeze

Not exactly the Flying Finn

By Renee Phile

Scene: June 2016. 4:30 in the afternoon. 80s. Humid. Kids and parents tired from traveling all day. Finally at our destination, an RV park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Second trip with our newest addition, Finn, a 33-foot 2016 Passport Ultra Lite Camper.

“You are at site 52, right by the pool,” she says, blowing her bangs out of her eyes, and handing me the map after circling our space with a Sharpie.

“Yay! The pool! Yes!” the boys yell, pretty much in unison. 

At first glance, I think there is no way we are going fit in site 52, right next to the pool. It just seems tight, and this will be only my husband, Raymond’s, second time backing the trailer into a tight place. 

The boys and I hop out of the truck, and Raymond drives around the campsite’s loop and then begins the test: backing the 33-foot Finn into site 52, by the pool.

My job is to direct him with little hand signals, and since we have only practiced this teamwork a few times, we don’t really “have it.”  Typically, I will wave one way or the other, and I can’t tell if he sees me, so I continue to wave one way or another, more dramatically wave-by-wave, pretending I’m one of those people who helps a pilot park an airplane. Then he nods and says smugly, “Yes, I see you. Got it.”

Anyway, back to site 52, by the pool.

Finn’s hitch creaks and pops, and the guy at Camping World said it would do that. He said not to worry, even though it will sound like a gunshot, and then a cow in labor.

Raymond attempts his first back-in. Too far to the left. He nearly hits the water spigot. Pilot error.

He pulls up and starts over. Still too far to the left. Pull up! Pull up!

Then again.

And again.

The other campers start to watch. The more experienced RV drivers. I feel the need to announce, “This is our second time, everyone! We are newbies! Can you stop staring?” But I wave my arms instead.

Some people smirk. Maybe they don’t, really. Maybe I just think they are. Actually, I just see one guy and he is smirking, for sure. He is sitting in a chair by the RV across the road, a Budweiser in his hand.

David, my then-12-year-old, decides now is a  great time to get out his juggling balls and juggle.

Kevin, my then-7-year-old, exclaims, “We have a lot of neighbors! Can I start visiting them, Mom?”

I feel sweat drip down my back.

Our truck and trailer are sprawled across the road, blocking all traffic. Raymond’s still trying. Creak. Snap. Pop. Time seems to slow.

A man driving a truck stops, waiting to pass. The man raises his hands in an exasperated manner and mouths something that looks like, “What the hell?”

At that moment, David glances up from his juggling performance and says, “That guy needs to calm down!” 

The man continues with the rude impatience, Raymond continues backing up and straightening up Finn, David continues juggling, and Kevin is now knocking on another camper’s door.

The smirky, beer-drinking guy from across the road walks over to our truck and says something to Raymond. The smirky guy then moves his own truck out of the way to give Raymond more room, or maybe out of fear. Raymond straightens the truck and drives Finn around the loop again, to start over. The impatient man passes, revving his engine as he does.

Then the smirky guy takes my place in site 52, beside the pool. He reeks of beer, and his words are slurring a bit. I have been replaced by this? He flaps his arms around and yells to Raymond, “Turn it sharper! Yes! Like that! Back up! Turn! To the right! Perfect!”

By this time, both boys are standing next to me.

“Parking these things is a bitch!” the guy says, half to us, half to Raymond.

Kevin clamps his hand over his mouth and looks at me, eyes big. “Mom,” he whispers loudly, “that guy said Dad is a bitch!”

“No, that’s not what he said. You heard him wrong. We will talk about it later,” I whisper.

Finally, Raymond backs Finn in perfectly.

“Your dad did a great job! It took me years to learn how to park these things,” the guy says, less smirky.

“It took him forever!” Kevin exclaims. David juggles.

“We are new,” I say to the guy.

“Yeah, I figured!” the guy says and laughs, slapping his knee.

The drunkish smirky guy stumbles back to his campsite.  Kevin thinks, in site 52, by the pool, the language gloves are off. The Finn adventures have begun.  PS

Renee Phile  loves being a mom, even if it doesn’t show at certain moments.

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