How to handle unwanted parking assistance from neighbor

Dear RV Shrink:rvshrink
We are novice RV owners. We bought a large fifth wheel and my husband does all the driving. I do not care to drive it at all. My job is to help him back it into camping sites.

Last week I was backing him in when a gentleman from an adjoining site came over and started giving my husband hand signals and kind of taking over my duties. I thought it was rude. He didn’t even ask me if we needed help. It was as if he was dismissing me. I felt rejected and let him park my husband into the fairly easy access site.

After it was all over my husband seemed a little ticked. He didn’t say much to the neighbor, but later went ballistic with me. He said he never wanted a stranger to back him in again, that it was my job and I should have let the guy know that we didn’t need his help. So we were both upset with the neighbor, but it seems we took it out on each other. Does that make any sense? —Back me up in Big Bear Lake

Dear Big Bear:
This is not uncommon; it happens all the time. Most people are just trying to be helpful and neighborly. You should have a reaction all rehearsed ahead of time. Let them know in a nice way that you do this all the time and that you do not want any help. If they persist then you can become a bit more firm until they get the message.

Helpful neighbors have nothing invested in your rig. If anyone is going to direct it into overhanging branches, park posts or rocks, it should be you. If your husband felt that strongly, he should have exited the truck, straightened out the situation and continued parking the rig.

It can be a little uncomfortable when you know someone is trying to help, but most people will understand if they are told you would rather work together. If they don’t take the hint, ignore them and continue to park your own rig. Let them stand there and flail their arms as long as your husband is only taking signals from you.

Not everyone is comfortable backing up an RV and will appreciate all the help they can get even if it is a stranger with nothing invested. It’s all about communication, politeness and being neighborly in the campground community. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his e-book: Dr. R.V. Shrink: Everything you ever wanted to know about the RV Lifestyle but were afraid to ask or check out his other e-books.

##RVT841 

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24 Thoughts to “How to handle unwanted parking assistance from neighbor”

  1. Phil McCraken

    Best way to deal with it is, get out of your rig, start digging to at least the first knuckle in your nose, then offer your hand as a thank you.

    Works everytime!

    1. Bob Duncan

      Thanks for the best laugh of the day!

    2. Chuck Woodbury

      Phil, yeah, a good plan!!

  2. J.O.

    I’m an awesome parallel parker with just my vehicle and no RV and can get into very tight places and it absolutely infuriates me when some guy on the street, who I don’t know thinks he needs to direct my parking because I am a woman. If I didn’t know how to drive and park, I wouldn’t have a license! I usually have a few choice words for those chauvinistic jerkwads.

    When it comes to backing in my RV, though, I’m not so great and still learning, and sometimes have to stop and re-set myself when backing up, as I get frustrated. I’m on my own, so I don’t mind people coming over to lend a hand, but they have always asked me if I need help. I am usually very appreciative of it. Sometimes a few have even offered to jump in and back up for me.

    However, if there are two backing up, then unless they are having difficulties, I think it’s rude to just jump in and assume the woman doesn’t know what she’s doing. If the “thanks, I’ve got this,” doesn’t work, then just stop the vehicle, get out and tell the “bossy Bob” to please move as you can’t see your spouse, so you can’t back up until you do.

  3. Steve

    First of all my wife tells the wanna be helper she has things under control. If she signals me that helper isn’t listening the truck stops I get out introduce myself and my wife. I then ask if the wanna be knows where or how my wife wants the RV parked. Then I tell them to stand back and let her save me some parking time. Only once in 10 years of rving have I had to tell someone to leave us alone twice. The second time I told the guy he was not happy and made it clear. I didn’t care I don’t live with him.

  4. Chuck

    If the husband doesn’t want anyone else, besides his wife, backing him in he should put the vehicle in park and get out and tell the person. Kinda stupid for yelling at the wife. Bet it was lonely and cold at that campsite.

  5. Summrbrz

    It’s ok, and I understand wanting to help. Happens a lot. Just smile, make firm eye contact and say; “Thanks so much, but I’ve got this! Thanks again.”. Works every time for me! ????

  6. Jay French

    I am the worst of the worst plus my woman’s hand signals are best left to the NFL. My excuse is I mostly ride a motorcycle & was gone drilling oil wells all over the world, she is 100% Cajun thinks in French.

    Have in the past had a few who were good help, others as bad as her.
    Solved the problem with a super backup camera system which also has excellent voice pickup. Since I’m now retired & have more practice, I’m actually able to back into normal spots with no problem.

  7. john stahl

    Some RV stops require you to allow them to take you to your spot and get you into your spot. And I let them. There is one near Colorado Springs that will not allow you to go alone. They are very nice and do a good job. We have been there 4 years in a row.

  8. Steve Barnes, Kamloops, BC

    You can’t rely on an assistant you don’t know. They might direct you into a fire hydrant they didn’t see.
    .
    Even park supplied assistants can’t know every site although usually good. Some are RVers, volunteers from other countries. They don’t know your rig. One directed me into an obstruction. Better to rely on my wife.
    .
    The most unnerving thing is when 3 people are watching, waiting for your crash. Worse still, 5 come out to watch and park golf carts around you to further distract.
    .
    I usually turn my back on the maneuver so as not to distract, or ask if they need help. Okay, I might watch the entertainment from inside behind the blinds. Admit it, we all find it fun but we respect and help the novice.
    .
    Even after 9 years with a 5th, sometimes my skills fail me. It happens to the best of us, usually before an audience.

  9. Paul

    I only offer to help if I see they are having difficulty, otherwise they are on their own. I watched a guy in the site next to me that was a pull through site do just that. Pulled the camper all the way through and then proceed to struggle backing it in!!! Didn’t say a word just scratched my head. I did go inside and bring the wife outside to watch the show though.

  10. Kc

    We’ve got our own set of hand signals and rarely ever have to say a word. One is outside, where driver can see them, and they can see driver in mirror. If outside person cannot be seen, coach immediately stops. That’s the clue to outer person to move into view. In addition, outer person is responsible for all around, up and over, as well as potholes and cement slabs, etc. Outer person also watches for tree and utility placement relative to slides. We used to use walkie talkies, then moved to cell phones, so that 1, they are always charged, and 2, driver can use speaker phone and keep hands on wheel.

    We also do checks and double checks inside and out, as well as light checks before we set out. Neither of us would ever trust a stranger to give us directions. We would first politely indicate help isn’t needed, or simply ignore outside interference (guidance).

  11. Darrel

    I only offer to help when it is someone with no spotter on board. And only for motorhomes since I am familiar with backing them in.

    I have no problem if someone declines a spotter offer.

  12. Steven Scheinin

    I tried using walkie-talkies as well as cell phones, but that millisecond delay could mean the difference of a bent fender. Hand signals are instantaneous.

  13. S Thomas

    Once, at night in a tight spot, a guy offered to help. He watched the front as I watched the back end. We were on walkie talkies. He had worked in the transport industry for 30 years and was used to backing in trailers. The method he used was great. Instead of telling him left or right, he told him which way to turn the wheel. I am familiar with that from backing in boats over the years. We adopted his method and it has been much better. Now if someone helps, I tell them that we have our own method. No more hand signals that the driver can’t see.

  14. Donald E Driever

    My wife and I have been RVing for over 50 years in all types of rigs. I have a class A CDL also and have absolutely NO problem backing a trailer into tight places. I/we have dealt with the friendly neighbor many times over the years and without making an enemy. My most recent encounter was with the park manager who showed up out of nowhere and stood directly in front of my wife and told her he would guide me in. I too should have got out of the truck but unfortunately I didn’t. I totally ignored his signal mostly because he gave terrible hand signals. As soon as I turned the motor off he disappeared back to the office. After setting up at our new location I went to the office and politely told the manager I didn’t appreciate him interfering and that we have our own system, which I won’t go into right now. He explained that (I’m sure he is right) all of their spaces are tight to get into and that he feels the need as does the parks owners to personally supervise all backing when possible. I explained that supervising and interfering are two different things. This is one of those parks that is not tight but is very cramped, with the sewer connection within 18 inches of the neighbors picnic table YUK!!!!

  15. Scott A

    Hey! It sounds like you met my dad. 🙂
    He always wants to help because he knows so much, and has been around. But he’s not offended if you politely say, “Thanks for the offer, but we always do this together and we’re good.”

  16. KyleC

    As a rule I just ignore other people who attempt to help and follow my bride’s guidiance. If they get in the way I just thank them and explain that I will follow her direction since she is the one who will be providing me feedback if something goes wrong.

  17. BigBoy

    One of the best and least expensive favors you can do for your spouse and relationship is get a good set of walkie talkies. Forget hand signals and just let the outside spouse be the eyes and voice of the process. My wife and I learned this early on and have never had a problem. Challenges? Yes, but no disagreements and the driver has to refrain from overruling the guide.

  18. Paul

    We handle volunteer “helpers” one of two ways. 1 – Ignore them. We are using headsets to talk to one another so this is normally easy to do. 2 – If they insist on getting in the way tell them whoever is closer will tell them “We’ve got it. Please stand somewhere you won’t get run over!” Basically, no matter what anyone else is doing, if I cannot see my wife and understand what she is telling me, the MH does not move.

  19. fnet4444

    I completely agree with the husband. Why didn’t you speak up? Was it because you’re a woman? Do you think men just automatically know more about those kinds of things because they are men? You and your husband had a system and you let him down. Speak up for yourself.

    1. squeakytiki

      So her husband gets on her case, and then complete strangers on the internet do too? You know, some people just aren’t comfortable with confrontation, and it has nothing to do with what sex they are. Maybe you should get a little empathy?

  20. john stahl

    I only helped once. The man seemed OK with it. But in the future if I decide to help I will ask the person first before giving assistance.

  21. Wolfe

    I’ve offered help to others (always after letting them bungle for a few minutes to prove they might NEED help), but I always ask politely before assuming. Some people enjoy the process of making a 57-point turn. One fellow went beyond accepting my offered help and (honest to G*d) asked if I could back his trailer in FOR them (“Er, no…” – I’m not taking on that liability!).

    As far as accepting help, I have cameras and sonar and anyone other than my wife assisting is just another body in my way, often moving around unpredictably to boot. Standing behind the trailer masks the tree I WANT the sonar to ping off. So far, such “helpful” people have taken the hint when I say “Thanks, but I’m fine…”

    Generically, I’ll say anyone who assists parking has to know where to stand, their duties, your signals, and what YOU want them to judge/alert you about or not. Strangers won’t know any of those things.

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