Posted in Today's File

Death of a Salesman(‘s Commission)

RV park rainbow
here we are at rainbow’s end

We all know—don’t we?—the demographic that comprises full-time RV-ers… They sport hearing aids and golf pants and live in Arizona or Florida half the year.

Once again, it’s time to challenge my assumptions. When Jon and I moved into this RV park in February, I was surprised to find two-thirds of the sites occupied by long-term residents… And I was downright shocked to realized that I am not (as I had supposed) on the youngest end of the age spread. My image of RVers was pretty severely outdated, as it turns out–we have nearly as many young families in the park as retired folks.

At one end of our row we’ve got 20-year-old newlyweds–he’s in construction, and she’ll find a new vet-tech job wherever his work takes them next. At the other end of the row, a young single mom with her feisty four-year-old daughter. Suzie’s five home-schooled kids mostly live on their patio in warm weather, and I’d pass one or two of the boys in the early morning, fishing poles perched at a jaunty vertical like jousting knights on their bikes.

hot air balloon
hot air balloons over the RV park

Rachel’s husband and Justin’s wife are traveling nurses; the children in the one home (and the bulldogs & cat in the other) seem perfectly adjusted to the fact that their scenery changes regularly.  We have veterans of various ages, and some couples and families who have moved closer to medical treatments or ailing relatives. We have our share of folks who are living here for some months at a time while a home is built or bought, or a divorce settled. And yes, we have a snowbird or twelve–but really, ours is about as diverse a neighborhood as you’re likely to find in this area.

Which leads me to the odd responses of an RV salesman this summer when my best friend and I spent the day exploring the cabinets and crannies of nearly every rig at a massive RV show on the fairgrounds adjoining our park.

Teresa & her dog Walter at their RV
Teresa & her dog Walter at their RV

Teresa and I both live in fifth-wheel RVs, and we both work at the RV-park office in exchange for site-rent and utilities, so you might think we get our fill of RVs already… But in truth, we see these rigs pulling into the park all day, and we’ve gotten curious how they’re put together.

We set out as if we were shopping for a trade-in (which, in truth, I’ll probably be doing in a couple years), each of us determined to find our “perfect” rig. Of course there’s no such thing–and we found ourselves imaginatively piecing together different elements of different designs. “If I could just have THIS kitchen-layout  and THAT bathroom, with THOSE closets…”

In other words, we have (apparently) become amateur design snobs, shaking our heads at every silly flaw in functionality that presented itself to our eyes. Last year when my husband and I were  shopping for a home, we didn’t know ALL the stuff to look for. We still don’t, I’m sure, but we’ve got some damn fine ideas on the subject now, and a much sharper eye for functional dissonance.

RV kitchen
the sink becomes counter; it’s one or the other

We’re more aware now of details like… placement of electrical outlets (in the home as well as on the breakers—I learned that one when my timed coffee-pot kept throwing breakers and killing the bedroom heater every morning)… or the physics of doors (bathroom doors and cupboard doors you don’t want to spend your life side-stepping)…  or ways in which space is wasted or used well, or user-friendliness of kitchens (tall Teresa has to stoop to wash her dishes, and my kitchen doesn’t have counter-space and a sink at the same time… Luckily for me, my hubby’s culinary magic doesn’t seem impeded by the squeeze!)

Okay, so apparently the two of us in pigtails and tattoos didn’t seem to a salesman like the people to whom he’d be selling a fifty-thousand dollar rig. But if he’s IN the business of selling RVs, he shouldn’t be falling prey the mistaken assumption I made last year, that RVers are white-haired with walkers. We’re both in our 40s, not exactly (as a friend just kindly pointed out to me) “spring chickens”…  Still, when I asked if any rig besides the Montana had the brilliant front-kitchen design, he waxed dull about mold in RV ceilings. Really?! That’s your sales pitch?

Montana RV kitchen
the perfect RV kitchen… if only the rest of the rig were as well thought out

I know he had better than that in his repertoire, because he pulled it out for an older pair; when they expressed an interest in a feature, he towed them off to look at likely rigs.  Anyway, I hated the rest of the Montana layout, but if we ever find that kitchen in a toy-hauler model, oh boy! And I know where I won’t be shopping when we decide to trade in. We’ll go to the guy who actually answered our questions, the one who treated us like grownups despite the pigtails.


I am... a writer, an explorer, a coffee-drinker, a recovering addict, a barefoot linguist, a book-dragon ("bookworm" doesn't cover it), a raconteur, a sailboat skipper, a research diver, a tattooed scholar, a pirate, a poet, a spiritual adventurer, a photographer, a few kinds-of-crazy, a joyful wife, a mom... a list-maker! :)

12 thoughts on “Death of a Salesman(‘s Commission)

  1. We went from knowing nothing to a great deal when we went shopping for our RV. and a great deal more when we picked up our little 25′ travel trailer in 2015 and three days later drove it across Canada to Niagara Falls and back, in a month. Talk about our steep learning curve! :D … we regularly hang out at RV shows and critique what works and what doesn’t. If only the designers would listen to us. :D


    1. P.S. … and talk about idiot salesmen … the first yard we went, this bloke who looked a bit like a reject from the used-car school of salesmanship took one look at us, a middle-aged butch/femme lesbian couple, and we could almost literally see him squirming. He didn’t make the sale, but the dealership across the road? They were smaller, almost an (extended) family business and they listened, made suggestions, and saw our requirements and innovative rather than reacting with a deer-in-the-headlights kinda attitude. (we basically gutted the interior so that it was ‘open plan’)


      1. I’m sort of shaking my head and laughing at the same time, just imagining the sales guys! Clearly you two had the right idea, putting your own design together—so are there things you’d do differently with THAT now that you’ve had it on the road for such an extensive trip? Teresa & I have a notebook-page full of design ideas—we think we should start a by-women-for-women RV-design company! ;)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think that’s a brilliant idea!!! :D
          Things we’d do differently – do a ‘shake-down cruise’ to become familiar with the systems BEFORE undertaking a month long road trip.
          Replace the 12v battery with 2x6v ones.
          Replace all the standard light bulbs with LED ones
          We had minimal interior walls after our ‘upgrade’ and no doors, but if doors must be had they need to be sliding ones.
          That’s about it off the top of my head. We pretty much have our little trailer how we want, but if I was designing something longer/bigger/wider from the ground up, there’s so much I’d change that’s for sure. :D


          1. “Shake-down cruise” is definitely a wise idea! Here at the park we’ve seen a fair number of people come in for a few days or a week even though they live here in town–just getting familiar with new ropes…

            We had it easy in that respect–we were already PLANNING to stay parked here for a while (near Jon’s job-of-24-years and my teenage kids) so we weren’t juggling our “newbie surprises” with attempts-at-travel! But in the first few months we replaced circuit breakers with bigger fuses, installed a solar panel, rewired some of the outlets so they wouldn’t ALL be on the same circuit, added supports under the tanks and insulation to the underbelly, altered an inconvenient door, put in LED lightbulbs… And my favorite luxury: we put a heater in the pass-through storage under the nose, so our bedroom and bathroom floors are heated! Woohoo!

            Liked by 1 person

              1. Actually this door was one we wanted to keep in place–it’s between living room & “garage,” and it’s a great temperature-barrier… But the handle on the garage side extended past the door, and we wanted to move Jon’s giant tool-chests right against the door-jamb… He put the doorknob on backward and now it’s just right. ;) If the bathroom door weren’t a pocket-slider, though, it would be outta here; I couldn’t believe how many RV models have a “real” door blocking the hallways! When Teresa and I commented, one salesman said it’s “to feel more home-like”… to which we replied that the RV IS our home, and we’d rather have it be user-friendly than imitating a house!

                Liked by 1 person

  2. This makes me think of a recent conversation with my 14 year old son. He told me I should wear a certain kind of jewelry so I’d look rich. I wrinkled my nose and told him I don’t want to look rich. He said “you should; people treat you better if you have money. ” I told him I’d rather people talk to me because they like me, not my money. What I didn’t say was that he’s right- and I really hate that about the world. Sounds like that rv salesman might think a lot like my teenager (so sad, haha)


    1. Very true! And I’d have to admit, too, that at least one of the salesmen who treated us more respectfully did so AFTER I dropped the fact that I already live in a pretty-pricey model… I could just about see the calculation of trade-in-value going on behind his smile, as that bumped me up from mere “show-browser” to “possible buyer” in his estimation… And further confession—I mentioned it on purpose because I really did have some questions, and thought I’d have a better chance of answers if he “took me seriously”… That was after the mold-guy, so I’d learned a lesson! ;)


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