Reavis Wortham

Our fifth-wheel RV has been in the shop since March. The company wants to get it off the lot, because every time it rains, they have to bring it inside, since a quarter of the rubber roof is gone.

The insurance company needs photos.

The shop sent the photos.

Claims asked for more photos.

The shop sent those required.

The shop manager named J.P. called several days later.

“Have you heard anything from your insurance company?”

“I called the number they provided and spoke to Marsha who said they’re waiting on you to send the photos.”

“That’s not who I sent them to.”

“They work off a Claims Team.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means I never get the same person twice, so I have to explain the whole thing each time. I’ve talked to Adam, Bailey, Carla, Dean, Evan, Frank, Gigi, Helen, Ignacio, Joe, Kay and Leonard. They all say they’re waiting on photos.”

“I sent them to Barry.”

“He’s the team manager, but he’s never there.”

“They want more pictures. Why can’t they send an adjustor out here?”

“Because they say they don’t have one in the area.”

J.P. described what falls behind a bull in the pasture.

I heartily agreed.

“Let me give my agent a call. I’m about to pull the trailer out to California and wait for Barry in the parking lot.”

The War Department had been listening to my daily exchanges for over two weeks. When she saw my face redden the last time I spoke to someone in California, she wanted to be in on the next call.

I dialed and put the phone on speaker.

“This is Nita. How can I help you?”

I went through the spiel, again, describing what had happened in previous phone calls.

“Well,” Nita said. “This has been going on for some time.”

“Since you graduated from high school. How’s your career going?”

The War Department slapped the back of my head, and spoke.

“Nita, why is this taking so long?”

“They’re waiting on pictures.”

“They’ve all been sent!” I stomped away from the phone to push my eyeballs back into their sockets. “Ignacio told me the check would be in the hands of the repair department within forty-eight hours, but that hasn’t happened.”

“Well,” Nita said. “They wanted more images on May 27. The others don’t show any damage.”

I was on the other side of the island, holding my head between two hands to keep it from splitting apart.

“Don’t you see half of the rubber hanging off the side somewhere?”

“Oh, that’s what that is.”

I dry swallowed three of my blood pressure pills, hoping to stave off an aneurism.

“I thought you didn’t see the photos in any of your inboxes.”

“I’m reading off someone else’s notes.”

The War Department sighed.

“They must be extensive.”

“There’s a lot to read here from the past few months. Why don’t you go out there and shoot the pictures for us. That would expedite the process.”

I leaned in.

“It’s in Fort Worth. I’m not driving all the way over there to do your job for you. How about you get Barry on the line and talk to him. I’d like to get my RV back before I turn eighty. We want to go camping.”

“He’s not in today.”

 I turned to the War Department.

“When I die, I want to come back as Barry. He apparently has the perfect job.”

She frowned. That’s a pre-cursor to her laying her ears back, a time when most intelligent beings evacuate the premises.

“Hon, here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to call my agent and get her on the line and have her call your manager, Nita, then please put in your notes that my husband writes a newspaper column that’s distributed through most of Texas, and if something isn’t done by next week, the name of this company will figure predominantly throughout the text.”

“Is that a threat?”

“No ma’am. That’s what we call here in the Lone Star State, a promise.”

“Good. I don’t like to be threatened. You know, I think there might be an estimator out there.”

I leaned in to the phone.

“Way back when I was younger, Bailey said they don’t send estimators out.”

“Oh, we do that all the time.”

I pulled at what’s left of the hair on top of my head.

“That’s what I told Carla when I talked to her, that J.P. always works with estimators, but none of those people I talked with would admit it.”

“Well, I don’t know what to say to that, but we’ll have an estimator out there within 3-5 days.”

“Are they driving all the way from California? That’d be how long it takes if you’re a claims adjustor.”

“No. There’s someone in the DFW area.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“It’s true.”

“Well, I still don’t believe it until someone goes out there with a camera.”

We hung up, and at this writing, I’m still waiting.

Reavis Z. Wortham is an award-winning outdoor writer with family ties to Lamar County. 

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