By Russ and Tiña De Maris
For RVers, there’s nothing like the heart-stopping feeling you get when you’re happily motoring down the road and another rig pulls up beside you. It’s when they lean out of the passenger window and start gesturing wildly —pointing at something on your rig — and the wind blows their words away. Oh, the adrenaline, and how the imagination kicks in!
We’ve had the situation come up more than once. One time we’d left the TV antenna in the extended position. On another occasion, the rear door of our truck camper was swinging about wildly. Our cat was clinging to the dinette seat, just inside the door, no doubt watching the passing traffic with some amount of anxiety. But perhaps the worst experience we’ve had was the one where there wasn’t time for anyone to tell us about a disaster in the works: Driver Anonymous had left a camper corner jack down in the “lift” position and drove off on an asphalt parking lot — major body damage was the result there.
Bitter experience makes a fine teacher. We now use the RV equivalent of a string tied around our finger. Whenever something is done with our rig that would make it BAD to drive, we “flag” our steering wheel with a ball bungee. That little “dangerous condition” reminder flag on the steering wheel has saved Driver Anonymous more than once since the Case of the Damaged RV Corner was closed.
When might you find a danger flag useful? ANY TIME something is going to cause you trouble if you move. I confess, years ago we were seen driving down the road towing a shore power cord merrily behind us. Thank heavens it wasn’t the water hose — the electric cord simply unplugged itself and no resultant “Mr. Magoo Hits Fire Plug” images came out of that experience.
Some examples when the reminder would be useful: Extended TV antennas. Stabilizer jacks in the “down” position. Hooked up cords and hoses. Awnings not stowed back in. Incomplete trailer hitchings. Dog tied to the door handle (it happens!).
We also travel with a departure checklist. It really helps to look at it — it’s a list of things to “make sure” of before you pull out of camp. So, it’s those little “short stops” that more often get you in trouble. Like putting down a camper jack to help change the pitch of the camper when dumping the tanks. Just tie that string around your steering wheel. Then all you have to do is remember what on earth you put it there for.