At 1:00am I still hadn’t fallen asleep. I lay there, trying not to move, in an envelope of heavy, humid air. It was mid-eighties and the trailer was stifling in the South Carolina humidity.
A few days before, in Asheville, NC, we woke to a puddle of water at our feet. The guy who built the trailer was apparently as inept at waterproofing as he was at installing lights. The leaks were now fixed, but we didn’t have a screen yet. We draped a tarp over the window hoping to deter mosquitos. So far, we had only succeeded in deterring any wind relief.
Finally I started drifting off to sleep… just as David woke up. “I’m wide awake,” he exclaimed. I grunted in reply and tried to fall back to sleep. His continual fidgeting, however, prevented me from doing so. “I have a crazy idea…” he said hesitantly.
Knowingly I grumbled, “Absolutely not.” Fifteen minutes of continual tossing later I growled in frustration, “Fine. If you pack up you can drive me anywhere.”
So at 2:00am we were on the road to Florida.
When we pulled over for gas at 6:00am David exclaimed from the back, “Don’t freak out… but we have a serious problem.” My heart dropped. The entire freaking camper was falling apart. We stared at it for a couple of minutes. I was filled with lack-of-sleep exaggerated shock, anger, and dismay. We spent so much money on this thing and it refused to function in any reasonable way. There was no way we would make it to Florida as-is.
So we duck-taped it and went to Lowe’s.
At Lowe’s, we stared at the trailer some more. Our brains struggled to reach a solution through sleep-deprived anger. A man walked over. He was middle aged, pear shaped, and graying with wide expressive eyes and a huge smile.
“How old is it!?” he asked excitedly, gesturing towards the trailer.
“New,” we grumbled, with little desire to talk positively about the camper.
“I remember way back in the 1960s when they ran ads for these in the magazines, I remember 90% of what I read…” He spoke without pause for several minutes about teardrop history while we wallowed in dismay. “You know, they used to wax the outside in humid weather,” he ran his fingers along the top of it, “but this is fiber glass, you won’t need to wax that. Whoever built this really knew what they were doing.”
We laughed darkly. Sure he did. At his inquiry we showed him the back.
“Oh that’s easy, all you need to do is scrape this stuff off, then get some Liquid Nails, get two screws just like this one…” We watched his hands and listened carefully in amazement as he told us exactly what to do.
Excitedly I grabbed my notebook to write down the instructions before I forgot. When came back, he was gone. We were back on the road in less than two hours…
“That’s the kind of shit that’s going to happen,” my friend Ana declared later on the phone. “It’s just going to work out.”
A month later, we pulled over on I-10 in western Louisiana. The right taillight on the trailer wasn’t working. For the better half of an hour we messed with the system. First, we tracked the breakdown to the light itself. Then, we took the light apart. We couldn’t figure it out. Defeated, we made plans to visit an auto shop the next day.
The security guard at the gas station/casino we were parked at came over. “You guys got a problem?” We showed him the light.
“You take the bulb out? I bet it’s corroded.” He reached in without hesitation, pulled the bulb out, scraped the bottom of it on the pavement, and put it back in. It worked.
Before we could thank him, he was gone.
I knew this trip wouldn’t be easy, taking chances never is. But the world isn’t all-bad. Sometimes you have to do something crazy (like this trip) to realize it. A lot of times I focus too heavily on the “don’t trust anyone” motto. Now, that’s not always a bad thing (take the trailer guy for instance) – but nice people are everywhere too. Bad shit happens, but so does good shit. Things work out. I just need to believe it, and you should too.