Lessons in Life

Date:                           November 17, 2010


Location:                    Willis, TX




            The month of November is quickly expiring and Connie and I have traveled a rather long way in our trek through life.  At the beginning of this month we were just leaving our summer experience in Newburgh and headed forth for new adventures.  Nearly 3 weeks, a lot of money and many miles later we find ourselves in the rural pleasures of Texas preparing to celebrate and enjoy Thanksgiving with my sister and her family.  We have traveled nearly 2000 miles and are almost getting back into the rhythm of being a full time traveling couple on the road again.  Living in a bus that does not move does not make you a “fulltimer.”  Traveling from New York City to Buffalo to Cincinnati to Nashville, to Little Rock to Houston gets a lot closer to the real life of being a traveling “fulltimer.”  Along the way we have had great weather, some good food, a few nice nights in expensive campgrounds and a chance to spend way too much money.  Being a “fulltimer” is a daily adventure.


            I told the story of our missed appointment with Wilkin’s RV in my last blog.  I did receive a call from them to see if there was anything they could do to rectify the situation.  Sadly I was too busy, previously occupied, to tell them what I really thought.  I am not sure they really wanted to hear my diatribe, again.  The same problem still exists in relation to their total lack of customer service that has existed for years.  If I keep going to the same inept dealer for the same inept service and expect something different to happen I guess it is I that is lacking a few marbles.  Oh well, I gave my money to someone else this time.


            We went to Buffalo to have our rig inspected and prepared for our journey.  Luckily we had a place to stay for the day or two to get the work completed and we could visit with our family before we ventured forth on our adventure.  The two or three day appointment to prepare Aurora stretched into nearly two weeks.  The muffler we needed that was to arrive on Thursday was not shipped until Friday and did not arrive until mid week.  The appointment to get Aurora inspected had to be moved so many times that the garage finally just told me to show up and they would find a way to work me in to their schedule.  Three service organizations and only one that really cared about their customer.  Of course the shipping snafu was not Cummin’s NE fault, but then it never is the service provider’s fault.  It is always the fault of someone else, but guess who has to pay through frustration and schedule destruction? 


            Our family was more than gracious as we disrupted their lives for day after day after day.  They even allowed us to promise to leave nearly every evening to wake up and find us still there in their way as they tried to live the normal chaos that they call life.  Of course we were not an imposition as we kept hanging around day after day after day.  Each morning we would promise to be gone and each evening we were still present right in the middle of their plans.  Visits are nice, but after week and a half the welcome mat must start showing some wear.  Our family was more than gracious, but they did stop saying good bye to us each morning on their way to school because we were never gone when they got home later that afternoon.


            Our adventure through customer relations was also a great learning experience and lesson for us to bring to our assignment next summer at the campground.  At our inspection, which we passed with flying colors after we finally got our parts installed, we were told we would need two new tires on our rig.  It seemed that one was wearing unevenly due to a badly aligned front wheel.  This should be a simple enough problem, normally.  Did I mention that our rig is heavy and very well built and needs big and very well built tires that need to go on wheels that take a very special and large machine to align?  Did I also mention that the place we were presently getting work done on our rig could not handle the job?  To make a long and not pretty story a little shorter the service attendant that could not do a thing for us pretended to care and did arrange for us to have an appointment at a tire distributer on the other side of Buffalo.  Lesson one; if you can not help the customer, pretend you care and refer him to someone else.  After driving a bus through Buffalo we arrived at a rather large tire dealer that was also unable to accomplish a thing to help us, but he too pretended to care and referred us to another tire store in Erie, PA where all of our problems could be handled.  Finally, a positive turn of events.


            We arrived in Erie, PA, found the tire dealer, and had arranged an appointment with a technician to align our new tires after they were placed on our rig.  Lesson number two;  if you don’t care about the customer it shows.  The dealer did have our special tires, only he was not going to sell them to us.  He had a friend that he was holding them for and someday that friend might just come in and need the tires.  A summation to the story was simply no tires, no service and no care from the dealer.  We were now left with the possibility of a tire problem, no solution quickly at hand and a long journey before us.  I had learned quickly that not helping the customer is not the problem because sometimes you can not help the customer.  It is not showing the customer a modicum of caring that causes ill feelings.  I will never go to Valley Tire in Erie, PA because they have been to the Wilkins school of customer irrelevance.  Not only would they not help us they showed such little compassion they rose to the top of my list you really don’t want to be on. 


            We did make it to Houston on our existing tires.  We did find a very large tire dealer in Houston that was more than eager to take a lot of my money and place a couple of new aligned tires on my home and we did learn a lesson in customer relations.  Maybe, in reflection, it was not a totally bad thing.  Aurora is behaving wonderfully, we have brand new very expensive tires on the front and they are aligned properly so that they may last a little while.  The life of a fulltimer is never boring albeit a bit expensive at times.  Our kids now have their home to themselves, we have our home healthy and safe and to ourselves, and the temperature is expected to be in the seventies today.  I guess this chapter of our story has a happy ending.   I will save airport groping and the disdain for air travel for another blog.    My blood pressure is nearly normal this morning.  Why mess with a good thing?  It is time to go visit my sister now and that is a very good thing.