First Time Watching A Tent Come Down

After our interview we spent quite a bit of time finishing up errands, writing/rewriting blog posts, and talking.  One positive thing that came out of all this was we had some long discussions about our role in everything that happened.  Dealing with these work issues as a work couple is complicated.  I have an approach that is honed over years and Lee has his own approach.  Because he always worked in a creative environment and I worked in conservative corporations it is not surprising those approaches are different. We are also different people, with different limits and different hot buttons.  What bothers me doesn’t always bother him and vice versa.  But when you are working as a team, every decision you make impacts the other person. This can be difficult to navigate, and unless you worked together prior to going on the road, it is unlikely you will have dealt with how to handle things prior to them happening.

And that’s a problem for us.  Because in the heat of the moment, when things aren’t going well, we don’t always band together.  Sometimes we flatly disagree or other times we know something needs to be done but don’t agree on the approach.  Based on our most recent work experiences though, we definitely knew this had to change.  Essentially we felt we had two basic choices.  We could either accept whatever happened once we arrived on the job site or we could address the issues as soon as they occurred.  Although it’s tempting to just say “as long as they pay us, whatever, we don’t care”  that tactic simply won’t work for us.  Neither of us is temperamentally suited for it for one thing (our friends are all laughing right now and nodding their heads) but more importantly it feels way too much like our old life.

Some people become full time RVers because they want to travel, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but we wanted to change our lives.  We wanted more freedom, less pressure/stress, and the ability to have more choices.  We can say we can tolerate anything for short periods of time and there is definitely an element of truth to that, but we have reached the point where we can see where too much compromise would make this the same as our old life, simply one on wheels. That’s not OK for either of us.

So that leaves us with addressing issues as they occur. That’s the “grownup” thing to do in any event, but it’s not always that simple.  I tend to be too Pollyanna, waiting until it is too late to recognize there is a problem, and Lee takes the opposite approach being very bothered when things aren’t as promised and generally assuming the worst. (I like to think of it more as expecting people to keep their promises and being prepared. – Lee) Basically we need to find a way to meet in the middle, and not only meet in the middle but also construct a joint strategy prior to having the conversation.  Let me give you a simple hypothetical example.  We accept a camp host position this summer and are told where our site will be.  This is an important benefit to us, so we google earth the spot and are pleased to see it is off the main road and in the back of the campground, and overall a pleasant place.  Awesome…looks perfect.  Once we arrive at the job, we are told the owners changed their minds.  They feel we need to be closer to the front for convenience sake and take us to a campsite right next to the road and the dumpsters and dump station. We have two choices in this scenario.  We can either accept the change and make the best of it, or we can talk to the owners and try to work something out.  We also of course always have the “nuclear” option of leaving, but no one wants to do that over something relatively minor.

So most people, ourselves included, just accept the change to the verbal or written contract and live with it. The problem though is it doesn’t generally end there.  More changes are made and before you know it, the job you are doing is not the job you signed up for.  That’s why I think it’s important that going forward we to try to talk it through right from the beginning.  It accomplishes two things.  First and foremost, you might get what you were initially promised, but even if you don’t you have made it clear that you have limits, and are willing to stand up for yourself.  You also get a really good feeling for how the job is going to go, by seeing how the owner/manager handles the conversation.  If they are vague/evasive, that is probably not a good sign.  If they are hostile and shut you down, that is really not a good sign.  But if you talk about it openly, even if you don’t get what you want as an end result, I think it’s a good sign for the future work relationship.   This approach may seem obvious, but for us it’s a stretch, especially as a couple.  We tend to gravitate towards a “give it a pass and wait and see” approach and that has not served us well. Both of us feel like this is an ongoing process, and as long as we’re making progress, that’s something.

In addition to solving all the problems of the world through talk therapy, we also took care of some business.  Lee found a way to replace the hose on the blue boy which was MUCH cheaper than replacing it, ($30 versus $250) and we took our truck in for its 60K mile maintenance service.  It wasn’t that surprising when they called and said the front tires needed to be replaced. The tires had less than 2/32 tread left of them, and are about a year and a half old. Our front end has been out of alignment pretty much since we hit the road, so Lee wasn’t surprised. (This has been incredibly frustrating, because I’ve had three alignments since we hit the road, and because of our travel schedule by the time I realized that the alignment was still off, we were hundreds of miles away from the dealer where the work was done. The last time was when we were getting ready to leave Alaska. They needed a kit to do it, and couldn’t get it fast enough, because Alaska, and we had to leave. Now we are going to be within an hour or so of the dealer for at least a month, so if it isn’t properly aligned I can go back and raise hell. – Lee) So it was $492 for tires and an alignment that we weren’t expecting, but everything else looks great, and we feel very confident in the alignment so far. We also watched the tent company and fence company completely empty our Christmas tree lot, which was actually pretty interesting.  I took lots of pictures, so why don’t I just show you how it happened. The tent came down in about an hour, and the fencing in about an hour as well.

First they took the sides down

First they took the side walls down. They clip onto a rope that runs along the tent, and each side panel is about 100′ long.

And wrapped them up in an amazingly tight bundle. Seriously that was amazing this stuff is hard to wrangle

And wrapped them up in an amazingly tight bundle. Seriously, that was amazing this stuff is hard to wrangle!

Then the unwrapped the ropes on the side poles

Then they unwrapped the ropes on the poles.

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And using a sledgehammer knocked the poles slightly in and loose from their metal holders

And using a sledgehammer knocked the tent stakes loose from the ground.

Next they brought in the forklift and put all the side metal poles (except the corners) on it

Next they brought in the forklift and put all the side metal poles (except the corners) on it

And then the CAT knocked loose the center poles

And then the CAT knocked loose the center poles

The tent started to come down

The tent started to come down

Next they brought buckets for the chains

Next they brought buckets for the chains

I was super impressed by how they used the CAT to minimize physical labor. Efficient and labor saving

I was super impressed by how they used the CAT to minimize physical labor. Efficient!!

Then back to front they started knocking down poles. I stayed outside the tent

Then back to front they started knocking down poles. I stayed outside the tent for this part

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Reminded me of those parachutes we played with in elementary school

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Once the tent was down I saw it was actually multiple pieces sewn together. Lee was suprised I didn't already know this

Once the tent was down I saw it was actually multiple pieces “sewn together”. Lee was surprised I didn’t already know this. (I might have been a roustabout in a previous life, but mostly I just can’t even imaging how heavy the vinyl tent top would be if it were a single piece. Not to mention transporting and storage. The system also allows them to build tents to pretty much any size in 10′ increments. – Lee)

They removed the rope from the seasm which took the longest of any step. Not much you can do to speed that process up, just good old fashioned untying

They removed the rope from the seams which took the longest of any step. Not much you can do to speed that process up, just good old fashioned untying

Then they folded the pieces up. This took some muscle

Then they folded the pieces up. This took some muscle

And rolled them into balls, once again using the CAT for transport

And rolled them into balls, once again using the CAT for transport

My favorite part was when they uses the forklift to lift the tent stakes out of the ground. Amazing control of the CAT was called for

My favorite part of the process was when they uses the forklift to lift the tent stakes out of the ground. Amazing control of the CAT was called for

The poles with no heads took a little longer (but not much) as they had to wrap a chain around them and pull up. That still went super quick

The poles with no heads took a little longer (but not much) as they had to wrap a chain around them and pull up. That still went super quick

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Finis!

Finis! (After two months of having the tent between us and the road, it was really weird to suddenly have a clear line of sight to the road. We felt really “exposed” and the traffic noise was much louder. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like for the most of the other locations that were right next to the interstate. – Lee) 

 

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Removed the fencing on piece at a time

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Stacked nice and neat. This was much less dramatic than the tent but still impressively efficient

We only stayed one night on this empty lot and felt less exposed because the lights from the gas station next door kept it well lit, but I wouldn't want to stay for long periods. The tent not only gave us an illusion of privacy it also helped quite a bit as a wind break

We only stayed one night on this empty lot and felt pretty exposed.  The lights from the gas station next door helped as they kept the lot well lit, but I was glad we were leaving the next day. The tent not only gave us an illusion of privacy it also helped quite a bit as a wind and sound barrier. (Once the fence was gone, we REALLY felt exposed. Having an 8′ fence around you gives you a sense of security, and now at this point anyone who wanted to could walk or even drive their car right up to our front door. We were both really glad that was only one night. – Lee)

So next up is Camping World, and our first visit to a service center. We have been having a problem with extreme uneven wear  on one trailer tire and want to get that looked at before we figure out what’s next. (Oooohhh, foreshadowing! – Lee)


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6 thoughts on “First Time Watching A Tent Come Down

  1. Exactly! I was trying to express this “deal honestly and firmly with little inconsistencies immediately” approach to you as my recommendation moving forward, but couldn’t find the words. And of course you figured it out yourselves before I could articulate it. Good for you, and your comment about reacting to how THEY respond is spot on!

  2. Interesting how you two work things out. They really know what they’re doing when it comes to bringing down the house. I mean tent. Hopefully your next gig will be everything you want it to be. Good luck.

  3. Just discovered your blog and website. Thank you. Great information and very detailed. We just started fulltime RV life.

  4. First, congratulations on being the center of attention on the latest RV Dreams blog post. A lot of people, including me, are learning from your experiences.

    When I was younger, I used to have a problem with situations where there was conflict. I always dreaded having to give someone negative feedback. Then I took the advice my father received from his company commander when he was a new first sergeant. And that was conflict is easier the more you do it. Of course, there can be a lot more technique to it than just stating a point in a firm manner, such as sandwiching criticism between two good things. Although those techniques are easily recognizable to those that use them and therefore could be offensive. I like the way you described not letting the first change go unnoticed so they know you have limits. In your example, I would have a big issue with someone that would have you drive cross country and then change the agreement, even if it’s the spot you will be camping in. They better have a good reason.

    You guys handled the pay issue well, at least from my point of view. I was wondering how you would handle the unknown. Maybe next year you will get one of those better paying lots.

    • That’s a great point Mark, conflict resolution is a skill and gets easier with practice. I think what’s been difficult is now we are handling it as a couple rather than alone and our styles are very different. You are totally right though, practice is the only way to get better.

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