Saturday I watched as a young couple pulled their travel-trailer into our campground and proceeded to back it into the space they had rented for the night. As Lisa and I visited with friends here at the Spring Valley Campground, we were suddenly alarmed at the loud noise coming from the spot the couple was attempting to secure and realized they were struggling to get parked. Over the next twenty minutes they pulled their rig up and back – again and again – in a frustrating dance of man and machine. Each of us commented how sorry we felt for the young man and his family – but, of course, we did nothing to help. We just sat there and allowed his pain to be our pleasure. It was about the only thing exciting that has happened here this week. You know you have entered boredom hell when someone running over a sewer drain becomes the hot topic for the next three days. God knows what might happen if an ambulance or police car drive through this place – people may just die from the excitement.
I do wonder why we seem to delight in the struggles of others. Now I don’t mean we get all juiced up over real tragedy. I don’t believe we are that cold-hearted. No, I am talking about the little things – the back into the pole, run over the curb stop, bend the street sign, and, here in an RV park, struggle to back into a camping slot. I know why. Because we are them. I have well documented that I cannot back my RV into its slot without practically clearing out the entire campground. But the key is to not let anyone know that. Which, by the way, is impossible. If you ever have an RV and struggle to back it into your designated slot – rest assured a crowd will gather to admire the frustration. Crowds tend to gather in proportion to the number of “up and backs” it takes to get lined up correctly. Had Lisa and I arrived here in Cambridge earlier in the day – I am certain they would have had to put up a grandstand as people gathered to watch our jack-knifing display of RV backing. Fortunately we pulled in here in the late afternoon and only had a few spectators on hand. I suppose the residents here were just worn out from watching all the other poor souls earlier in the day trying to back their RV’s into place. We must have been the fifth or sixth act that day.
I suppose seeing others struggle in different ways somehow makes us feel good about ourselves. And is that not pathetic? What did our parents, public education and Sunday School do to make us this way? Maybe we have given up trying to be complimented for our good work (which is practically non-existent) and resorted to looking for the struggles of others to feel good about our sorry selves. I don’t know the reason but it is there. We have grown more jealous, more prideful, more arrogant, and shamelessly happy about the demise of others. Facebook has become a place not just to catch up with people but to brag about every infinitesimal thing our children do or say or accomplish. We have “selfied” ourselves into glamour queens, rock-stars and GQ models. Our children are not just cute – they hold the record for adorable. And I am just as guilty as everyone else for that. But I am trying to be honest about life and hope my writing is reflective of the good and the bad. I have some good qualities but also warts and stinks and out of shape unattractiveness that only my wife could love and live with. The truth is I am generally a mess and no ‘photoshopped’ “selfie” on earth is going to change those flaws and failures.
When Lisa and I pulled our RV into the Stone Mountain Georgia campground near Atlanta back in January, we arrived there in the late evening and had to park our RV in in the dark. A person next door to us came over and offered to help. He coached me on how to turn the wheel, how far to go back and pull forward. He worked with me for a good thirty minutes – standing in that cold night air – until we had our RV where it needed to be. His name was Tim Hammock and he and his wife, Kathy, became good friends to us during our two months in Georgia. I will never forget him for helping us.
That young couple who struggled to park their RV this past Saturday probably won’t forget me either. I was the lazy spectator sitting in that lawn chair watching him struggle and run over that sewer drain and work and work and work to get parked. I was the one who did nothing to help. And I am sorry about that.
Maybe next time I will remember how pitiful I am and how much help I need at times.
Humbled! Steve and Lisa.