” I’ll drive”, I über nonchalantly said. I knew to exhibit the utmost calm and collectiveness if I was going to pull this off.
We were nearing Chama, New Mexico and I graciously offered to drive the motorhome while my husband, Gary, took an important conference call. This was all well and good; however, we had just acquired a new motorhome and our purchase increased in size, both physically and monetarily.
We had recently traded in our 35-foot motorhome. I had loved driving it, and even learned to hitch the tow car, connect the electrical, water connection and alas, when Gary wasn’t available, dump the tanks. I carefully adhered to the law of tonnage, mimicking the semi drivers.
Now we had traded “up” to a 40-foot motorhome not only longer but wider. I was determined to master this one too. My husband, being a most trusting soul, agreed to my driving it while he took his business call.
My first time driving the forty footer! I consciously gave a brilliant impersonation of knowing what I was doing as I settled into the driver’s seat. I was not about to let him see that I was the least bit apprehensive. So what if I wasn’t exactly sure of where the controls for the turn signals and jake brake were? And if I wasn’t exactly sure what all those other buttons and knobs were for? And I just would lean backwards to see out the side view mirrors. Problem solved.
Fortunately, my husband did not notice my well-veiled trepidation as he was attempting to dial into his call. I exuded the epitome of false bravado. Regardless, we were off! (I did know where the gas pedal was). All was well with the world!
As we approached Chama I noticed a detour from the highway through the town. Gary, now intensely focused on his call, paused, held the phone to his chest, glanced towards me and asked quietly,
“Do you see that detour?”
I, focused intensely on staying between the lines, said, in a most exasperated manner,
“Yes, of course I see the detour.” Did he think I was blind??
I turned off the highway onto a local street, weaving my way carefully through the residential maze, diligently following the detour signs. This was no problem. No problem at all. I had this under control. I was damn good!
At the end of detour, on West Manzanita Street I was directed to again join the two-lane highway. In front of my 40-foot motorhome were two passenger cars stopped at the stop sign, turn signals indicating they were turning south as I intended to do. And in front of the two cars were several highway workers directing them, in a most animated manner, to avoid the freshly laid blacktop in the northbound lane. The first car made the turn, expertly avoiding the yucky mess, then the second car did the same. It was my turn.
Now I had been taught all my life to do as I am told, mostly unsuccessfully, but this one time, one time…I mind. Observing this behemoth approaching, these three men were frantically motioning and yelling at me to “TURN RIGHT, TURN RIGHT!”, in order to avoid their beautiful newly laid, gooey, ol’ blacktop. Did they have absolutely no regard for our beautiful new, unscathed, shiny motorhome? Obviously not.
And therein lay the problem. It’s one of life’s mysteries. Who’d a thunk an extra five feet could make such a difference?
So, I tried. I really did, and as Gary was concentrating on his call, trust and unconditional love in his heart, I slowly proceeded, attempting the sharp right turn. And this behemoth was turning and I was avoiding the blacktop. I was a good little girl. I glanced in my rearview mirror to check my progress and…Oops. I saw the stop sign swaying drunkenly back and forth. The back end of the motorhome had refused to follow the front end.
But now for the good news. At least the stop sign was still there. I hadn’t knocked it down. And the second good news was that Gary hadn’t noticed. Whew! Close call!
I knew that I would have to deal with stop sign-height gashes along the side of our formerly pristine coach, but I would think about that tomorrow. I finished the turn and was merrily fleeing the scene of the crime, secretly hoping that I’d screwed up their precious blacktop, and that they hadn’t gotten my license number.
Saved! Until…I glanced again in the rear view mirror and saw a bright neon green street sign sticking out perpendicularly from the top of the coach, caught on the awning cover. Damn!
I look towards Gary, who is deep in conversation and say as calmly as possible in this touchy situation,
“Gary, sweetheart, I believe there is a green street sign hanging from the awning.”
Up until this moment, he had been blissfully unaware of the driver’s predicament. He continued, in a most exasperated tone, not wanting to interrupt his call,
“Just leave it,” he softly growled.
“Leave it?? Did you say leave it? I am not going to drive down the highway with a bright green street sign hanging straight out from my coach!! No way!”
He then said, directly into the phone, insult oozing in his tone (at least to my ears), “I have to get off the call. My wife just hit a street sign and I have to deal with it.”
“Oh my god!”, I blurted as he’d quit his call. “I can’t believe you said that. Do you want those people to think you’re married to an idiot?”
And, you ask, is there a new street sign for West Manzanita? Suffice to say, they found me. I now own two West Manzanita signs. One of which sits at the corner of West Manzanita and Highway 84 in Chama, New Mexico, and the other…proudly displayed in our motorhome.