‘Are you people ever going to pay off on my trailer repairs?”

That question followed several weeks of back and forth with our insurance company. Their inexplicable reluctance to authorize the repairs on our fifth-wheel camper boggled the mind. We’ve been with this company for decades, and they’ve been wonderful, until this project landed on the Team Leader Billy Bob’s desk.

On another note, many of you know we moved this year, and once the old house was empty, some very talented individuals slipped into the back yard there and relieved us of the swimming pool heater and pump. This same insurance company paid off in a matter of hours on that claim.

So I wondered if we’d annoyed them with a second claim so soon after.

Then suddenly my question above was answered as if I’d just called to book an appointment for a massage.

“Sure. We’re good to go.”

I was silent for a moment.

“Really?”

“When do you need the check?”

“Well, about three months ago.”

“Fine. Do we send it to you, or the repair shop?”

“Like I’ve said a hundred times to the other hundred people I spoke to, I don’t want the money. I want the trailer repaired. Send it to the shop.”

“It’ll be there today.”

I hung up and called the shop.

“J.P.! The check is on the way.”

“I just got an email saying it’s authorized!” There were shouts of joy in the background as a celebration broke out. They could finally get the trailer off their lot.

A week later he sent me an email saying the trailer was ready. I headed over to pick it up. The drive from my house to the repair facility in Fort Worth takes an hour. This day, it took two, due to highway construction.

Every other mile was a challenge. Three lanes choked down to one, then diverted onto a frontage road. Once clear of that challenge, the highway widened for a few feet until it was diverted again. I bailed and took a different route.

A malfunctioning light had an entirely different highway backed up for over a mile. It was one of those blinking red lights that required everyone to move up one space at a time as those at the intersection had to stop, wait their turn, honk at the idiot on his/her cell phone, wait for said idiot to look up from his/her text, and then pull out in front of someone who didn’t understand the process.

I finally pulled into the RV repair lot at noon. A young lady was behind the counter.

“I’m here to pick up my trailer.”

“J.P. went to lunch. He’ll be back in an hour.”

“It’s best I don’t see him. I’ll just take it.”

“Fine. You know which one it is?”

“Uh, it’s my trailer. The one sitting right there on the end with the new roof.”

“Go ahead then.”

“I need the door keys.”

“You don’t have them?”

“You do.”

She disappeared into the back, a puzzled look on her face and returned twenty minutes later, smelling of onions and fried food.

“Here they are.”

I took the keys, wiped off the grease, and headed outside.

The summer sun hammed down on the parking lot. Sweat soaked my shirt only moments later as I backed up to the trailer. Of course the battery was dead, so I had to ease up close enough to plug in the power cord. That done, I backed closer and pushed the button to raise the landing gear far enough to hitch the rig.

The motor groaned and the rig lifted at glacial speed.

I heard myself.

“This #*(@ing motor is going out!!!”

It finally rose enough to back the rest of the way under the ball hitch in the bed. Getting it centered is a challenge when you’re by yourself, but I finally managed to position the truck. Wiping rivers of sweat off my forehead, I lowered the rig until it settled onto the hitch.

I locked it on the ball.

I connected the emergency brake.

I pushed the button to retract the landing gear.

The final step was to pull the pins on the legs and manually raise them inside their tubes. You can’t drive with the legs extended. They went up three inches and stuck.

Half an hour later, J.P. returned from lunch to find me waiting in the truck.

“Glad to see this rig go.”

“It won’t.”

He blanched.

“Why not?”

“The landing gear is bent.”

“How’d that happen?”

“You need to answer that. It worked perfectly when I brought it in.”

He and a tech, also smelling of fresh hamburgers, knelt in the hot parking lot and examined the trailer’s forelegs.

J.P. finally rose.

“They’re bent.”

“That’s what I said. How’d it happen?”

“We had several parked on an incline in the back. One of those storms a month or so ago pushed several of them forward. It bent the legs on them too.”

“You didn’t block the wheels?”

J.P. pointed.

“He didn’t, but we can fix it. You want to wait?”

“No.”

“It’ll only take a couple of hours.”

“I’ll be back in a couple of days.”

“I really wanted to get this off the lot today.”

“So did I.” I sighed. “The roof looks good, though.”

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

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