No matter the length of a relationship, communication ebbs and flow over the course of time.
At each stage of a relationship, communication changes, sometimes it is like you are of the same mind, other times you wonder, “What the hell are they saying?”
As RV (Airstream) newbies, we are learning a whole new way and new form of communication. We are negotiating on a sign language that we both understand. I am struggling with walkie-talkie etiquette, having never used one. Our biggest struggle has been “How” to give directions that make sense, sometimes you think it should be one way but it is actually the opposite. Yet, this form of communication is critical and necessary for safety and for our sanity.
Even after forty-five years of togetherness, we are not always on the same page. We are working hard to find a system and a form of communication that works for us. One without blame, without tears (me), without foul language (me, again,) and without getting mad. There is definitely frustration, sometimes with ourselves, other times with the other person, and most of the time with the truck and the Airstream. There are days, when we just nail it and learn from it and think we’ve got this. And days where we wonder why are we doing this?
We use respect (most of the time), we strive for patience, and we try to listen intently and recognize the other’s frustration.
As we move along in this journey, our communication is growing, it is evolving, and it’s defining itself. Most days, it is easier and more fluent.
Now, if only we could get Jack (the Ford F250) and Betty Jo (the Airstream) to once again COMMUNICATE!
When we first brought them together, it was beautiful. Like any new relationship they went out of their way to please the other, dancing along the roadway as if they were one. We installed a ProPride Hitch to make it more seamless and to make sure they stayed together and stayed safe. The first few times, hitching them together was a breeze, like they were meant to be together, and like we knew what we were doing. I was feeling quite proud of us and even a little cocky. After all, we've got this!
But just like that… the honeymoon ended.
They stopped working together. Hitching has become a huge frustration, a bitter fight each time. I have been tempted so many times to just rip the ProPride hitch off and send it back. All of the measurements we worked so hard to gather, no longer worked. We can no longer just line things up and seamlessly bring them together like before. And the weight distribution bars seem off and the ride seems rougher. The OCL (over center latches) use to just lock into place, but now the driver-side latch seems to have a hard time locking. And our frustration with the system, the hitch, sometimes spills over towards the other person.
What are we doing wrong?
It all started when we left Betty Jo alone for a night. Jack was getting a little update to the bed of the truck to help organize tools better. When we returned the next day, it was late in the day, and no matter what we did, we could not get them to connect. It was like Betty Jo was upset that we left her behind and decided she didn’t want anything to do with Jack. Frustrated, cold, tired, hungry, we decided to let them sit overnight and try again in the morning.
Since that time, Betty Jo has held a grudge and each time we struggle to hitch up. Jack can’t seem to find his way to connect, we spend up to a half hour or more trying to line them up. But eventually (and grudgingly) they will cooperate.
Yes, the honeymoon was definitely over.
As you watch the countless YouTube videos on backing up and hitching, I have yet to find one that really addresses how to be a really good Spotter, how to “learn” to give better directions. Our frustrations came from me not knowing, or understanding, what I was really supposed to be directing him (the driver) to do. Sure I can learn to say passenger side and driver side but there is actually more to giving good directions to the driver than words and sign language.
I realized I needed to better understand “how” the truck works to give better directions. As part of our learning curve, we have found that it works better if I back up the truck and Tony works with Betty Jo and the hitch, he understands it better and has more knowledge of what to do to fix it. He is also better at giving directions, at being a better Spotter, more so than I.
Somewhere down the road, we'll trade again and I will be the Spotter. I will have more experience and more understanding of "what" I am instructing the driver to do. Till then....
The reality is - the issue is really end-user inexperience, not the lack of communication between a truck and an Airstream.
Though I still believe Betty Jo and Jack are having some sort of squabble but they just need to get over it before we hit the road. LOL