Monday, February 21, 2011

First Trip Ever...end. (or "Freeze the Economy!!!")

Saturday I awoke to a beautiful sunny morning, albeit colder than I hoped. Today would be the first full 24 hour camping day with the Airstream, I just need to get through the sales pitch. (In hindsight is was good that I did not eat breakfast; it probably wouldn’t have stayed down.) I was fortunate that I was not alone in my misery as my wife, my friend and his wife would also attend. We arrived at the office promptly at our 10:00am appointment time. Our host arrived late, but at least he brought excuses. He rushed through why it was such a great place, blah blah, then got right down to business...... “I’m gonna offer you folks a special one time deal just for today that will allow you to FREEZE THE ECONOMY! You see folks, these memberships will never go down in value, heck, they hold their price and keep going up up up. Normally this membership will cost you $12,000, but because your friends of  existing members, I’m gonna give you a special price of $10,000 to help you FREEZE THE ECONOMY! “
“Um, I’d like to think about it”, I replied.
“Ok, I can see your a business man and I can respect that...I like you. To show HOW much I like you, I’m gonna give a one time special price of $5000, but you have to let me know by 1:00 today if you want to FREEZE THE ECONOMY!!!”
“You do realize this is my first ever camping trip in a trailer, and I have actually spent less than 14 hours camping, and you want me to make a decision to essentially spend most, if not all, of my annual camping budget on this place, and your giving me less than 3 hours to make the decision? If that’s the case, my answer is no.”
“Ok, I’ll give you until 5:00pm today. If you doubt this is a great deal, just ask some of the other members...but don’t tell ‘em what kind of deal I gave you, or they be mad if they paid the $12,000 price.”
So I decided to ask around. The first couple paid $3000. The second couple bought it off Craigslist for $500. The third couple, same thing, $500 off Craigslist. Turns out the membership does not exactly hold it’s value like he mentioned, so people resort to selling it for whatever they can, say, 500 bucks. I found the manager and his finance guy later in the afternoon, and told them thanks, but no thanks. Truth is, I don’t mind the park. My kids had fun, it felt relatively safe, it’s close to home, and we have friends that own (or their parents own) a membership. What turned me off was the manager himself. Drunk, swearing, late, high pressure sales tactics...just a few of the “don’ts” when your in sales. Had this manager conduct himself with a little professionalism and said something like, “Hey, I understand this is your first time with the trailer, no problem, take your time. Just enjoy your weekend, you don’t need to make a decision today. If you had a good time and you want to talk, feel free to call me when you’ve had time to think about it, my offer will still stand.” This approach likely would have worked for me. I like the park, my friends want me to join, and I would have left with a positive vibe, so maybe things would be different. 
I did return to this park the next summer and I was truly amazed at the spectacle I witnessed. As there was a state fair being held nearby, every member decided to show up and camp for the weekend. It was this weekend I discovered they have sold waaaay to many memberships. Their policy is they will never turn away a will always have a place to camp. When busy, this “campsite” might be in the middle of the soccer field, or perhaps the middle of the gravel parking lot. One lucky fellow was parked right next to the ladies washroom, where he  ran an extension cord from his trailer to the outlet inside. Unfortunately the breaker kept blowing, but being a male, he did not want to enter the ladies abode to flick the switch. It was a lesson both in charm (“Young lady, could you do me a favour?”) and, of course, patience.

 I’m happy my money is still in my pocket. For the money they were asking for, I can have many nights of camping in many different locations, without fear of being stuck in a gravel lot.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

First Trip Ever...continued...

Two of the other families have a membership to a campground just across the border in Washington State, so they convinced us that this would be a great place for our first ever Airstream moment. “And you can camp for free all weekend, you’ll just have to listen to a teensy weensy little sales pitch for about an hour.” The first thought that came to mind was “oh crap”, as I have little patience for sales guys. (If your reading this and you are in sales, please don’t be offended. I am in sales, but I have little patience for high pressure sales tactics.)

We head across the border and once again, the border guard cares little about any kind of contraband or illegal aliens were smuggling across, nope, they’d rather talk about the shiny chunk of aluminum behind me. After 5 minutes of pleasantries, we enter the States. 20 minutes later, we are at our destination. Luckily for me the spot chosen by my friends was a pull through, which is exactly what I needed until I become more proficient in towing and backing up a trailer. I researched what I needed to do to get “set up” as I didn’t want to go through the classic noob questions, but I was thankful to have patient friends that would happily help if requested. I put the jacks down and made sure things were level. I then hooked up the water, electrical, sewer, turned on the propane, extended the awning out, unrolled the artificial turf, step extended, hot water furnace on, and flamingo lights up around the awning. I looked at my watch and whoo-hoo, it was Beer O’clock. Perfect timing! I grabbed the lawn chairs and met my friends at the campfire. It was there I met for the first time the director of this campground. First impressions are everything, and my first impression of him was disappointing. He was completely drunk and dropping f-bombs in rapid succession. I’m ok with drinking and having a good time, and I don’t offended too easily if someone swears as I’ve dropped a few cuss words in my day also. What bothered me about this was that there were 8-10 young children in his presence. He was too drunk to understand a simple concept called “couth”. It got to the point where one of the mom’s finally asked him to leave as he had ignored several requests to not swear in front of the children. He is probably a decent guy when sober, but this was the first of a few warning signs I received this weekend.

Once he left, I returned to the task at hand, enjoying the first official night in my Airstream. After a few more laughs, marshmallows and hot chocolate for the kiddies, it was time to turn in. Teeth brushed, kids tucked in, the wife and I lying in our cozy little bed....and then I hear a clicking sound. It just happened to be the coldest Thanksgiving on record, so that little clicking sound was the heater starting up. It’s strange how something as simple as a heater can stir up feelings or emotion. I lay there with this overwhelming sense of just how truly blessed I be falling asleep with my beautiful wife by my side....with beautiful little girls fast asleep just feet from a trailer I have dreamt of  for years...yup, I have been blessed beyond what I could have imagined.