It was 6:30 in the evening. It was a Sunday. It was Mother’s Day. And we were in a campground, far from home, locked out of our trailer. We should be roasting wieners (not our dogs) and marshmallows over a fire by now.
Instead, I was on the phone, talking to an RV repairman, explaining that the lock to our fifth wheel was broken, and we couldn’t get in.
Amazingly, he agreed to come out that night to help us! Who does that? Only an awesomely kind man who likes to help people.
The repairman showed up with a 14 year old grandson in tow. He looked at the door. Yes, the lock was broken. He attempted to take it off from the outside, but could not.
Then he asked if we had a laundry shoot in our Fifth Wheel. If you are not familiar with Fifth Wheels, then you may not know that they have a “basement.” The front of the fifth wheel is raised up so that you can back the bed of your pickup under it. This is where the king pin is, that attaches to the hitch in the bed of the pickup. The space over the bed of the pickup is where an extra room (usually the bedroom and bathroom) is. Since a bit of ramping is involved in the construction, there is space under part of the floor which is used for storage. Since it sits below the room, it is called the basement. Some Fifth Wheels have a hole under the bathroom sink that can be used as a laundry shoot. It may sound big, but trust me, it is not.
“Yes,” I told him, “we do have a laundry shoot.” We walked around to the side of the trailer where the laundry shoot was, and I opened the door to the basement. We took turns sticking our heads in and looking up. It was a mighty small hole. An adult could not crawl through that hole.
But, maybe a seven year old girl would fit? We just happened to have one of those. Kathy took the truck, drove down to Jason’s campsite and kidnapped the girls. Jason and Melissa were still working on setting up camp, and didn’t know that we now had plans for their daughters.
We brought Allie, our seven year old granddaughter over and showed her the hole. Did she think she could crawl up there for us? She was a little nervous about crawling up into the trailer. It was starting to get dark. But she agreed to do it.
The repairman told Allie what he wanted her to do: Crawl through the laundry shoot, push open the cabinet door, crawl out into the bathroom, go out into the hall and down the stairs, and then turn the deadbolt lock and open the door. Allie did as told. But the lock still wouldn’t open. I started thinking about finding a dog-friendly hotel again.
The repairman had another plan.
There are two emergency exits in a Fifth wheel. These are windows that unlatch from the inside, and are big enough for an adult to crawl out of. In our trailer, one is upstairs in the bedroom, and requires a significant drop to get out. The other is in the dining area, and is closer to the ground. The dining table sits in front of this window.
The repairman asked Allie to crawl on top of the table, and described for her how to release the latches. Allie did this promptly.
By this time, Jason and Melissa had arrived to find out what we were doing with their daughters. And, it was time for dinner. Of course, no dinner could be made. Hot dogs and S’mores were supposed to be on the menu. No dinner could be made until we could get into the trailer.
Now the window was open, but it was too high for old men like myself or the repairman to crawl through. And then there was that dining table that had to be crawled across.
Fortunately, we had a 14 year old boy nearby, the repairman’s grandson. We called him into action. We boosted the young teen up through the window with a pocket full of tools. He was able to disassemble the lock with his grandfather’s guidance. At last, the door was open.
Kathy prepared dinner while the repairman installed a new deadbolt.
Allie was glad to be free of that trailer, which had quickly become dark. Rachel (our four year old granddaughter) insisted that she be allowed to crawl through the laundry shoot. With lights turned on, the girls made a game of going into and out of the trailer using their own private entrance.
There is a follow-up to this story.
Three years later, Kathy and I stayed in an RV park in San Marcos, about an hour south of the other campground. The water heater quit on us during this stay. Not a big emergency, but an inconvenience. Like all inconveniences, this one happened on a Sunday, when the usual places are closed. I had noticed earlier that an RV repairman lived in one of the RV’s across the road from us, in the same park. He had his name and phone number on the side of his truck. I called his number and explained the problem. I told him we would be OK until Monday, but I’d like to be put on his service call list. The man came over right away, anyway. How nice that I was able to find someone willing to work on a Sunday. I thanked him profusely.
I made small talk with him while he was making the repair. I commented on how grateful we were that he was willing to come over and take care of this for us on a Sunday. Then I launched into my story about getting locked out several years earlier, and how fortunate we were to find someone willing to work on Mother’s day. He said the lock problem must happen a lot. And then he began telling the rest of my story back to me! We figured out that he was the same guy who helped me before.
You meet a lot of nice people when you travel.
And sometimes, you get to meet the same nice person twice.