Daily Archives: June 16, 2014

A Pox on California Roads . . . and Hula Hoops

Oh no, I hear you say. What’s wrong with these people?

As disasters go, it wasn’t our most terrifying ordeal, but still:

“That doesn’t look right.”

“What?”

“The runner. Look. It’s cracked.”

After a lunch time stop at a rest area, Jimmy made one of his routine equipment checks. Our rear slide/bed-in-a-drawer rolls into the body of our trailer when we’re bouncing along much like a drawer hung on wheels with two metal runners screwed to the ceiling.

The weight of the bed had ripped the runner off the ceiling. It was bent and cracked but the screw was still firmly in the ceiling, achieving nothing, a bit like us standing there staring at it with our hands on our hips.

If the runner broke the bed would drop onto the dinette and sofa rendering all three unusable. Our already bijou living space would be reduced to a galley kitchen big enough for one and a quarter people, a closet bathroom and one bed, with all our vital paperwork, including passports, and half our pantry supplies trapped under the immovable slide.

To make matters worse the vital screw was in at an angle and the rigid runner was bent just enough so the screw head was not visible.

In other words, instead of the runner, we were screwed.

With limited headroom and the screw playing peek-a-boo under the runner Jimmy stood on the dinette seat and bent over backwards while my arms threaded through his to pull on the runner.  We looked like a vertical game of Twister. I had visions of his foot going through the flimsy fiberboard under the cushion and breaking his ankle on the toaster in the drawer underneath.

The idea was to put a washer on the screw and screw the runner back to the ceiling, thus taking the strain off the crack. Easy. Except . . .

“I can’t see it!”

Eventually I am kneeling on the kitchen counter with my head forced over by the ceiling and my neck at snapping point. I can pull the runner across, see the damn screw, engage the screwdriver in the screw head, it’s in! and hand over to  Jimmy to grunt and twist the screwdriver with all his might.

But the screw wouldn’t turn.

He took a big breath and “erghhhhhhh!” The screw still wouldn’t turn.

Another big breath and “ERGHHHHHHHH!!!!” The screwdriver popped out of the still stationary screw head stripping the vital cross head a little. My advice to push up on the screwdriver was rewarded with one of his oh so withering looks.

After half a dozen attempts to turn the screw, Jimmy was gasping, drenched in sweat and shaking with the effort and bloody awkwardness of it all.

“What were you grunting for?” he accused me between gasps of breath.

“You try kneeling on the counter with your back arched and your neck breaking and face smashed on the ceiling while pulling with all your might and see if you don’t grunt!” I snarled back at him.

This graceless exchange seemed not to give offense to either party, simply vented a little frustration.

I had also knelt painfully on a varicose vein which I had suddenly developed the week before while playing with my new hula hoop.

After a few successful twizzles ‘round my waist I thought I was twelve years old again and tried to hoop around my knees. It immediately dropped below my knees, twirled on a perfectly sound piece of leg, upset a vein, which then popped up angrily to complain at my stupidity.

The purple lumpy mass looked ready to explode and scared me half to death. I spent the next two days with my leg raised and a cold gel pack on it to sooth the vein back down. Idiot.

Reduced to a bruise on my leg the vein didn’t appreciate my kneeling on it so I half knelt, half lifted myself on the other leg, arched my back, squashed my face on the ceiling, pulled the runner to line it up with the screw and grunted. Who wouldn’t?

We tried again. And again. Several more times. The screw wouldn’t budge.

“We’re in the middle of nowhere.”

“Yeah.”

“These rough California roads have caused the problem.”

“I know.”

“You know we can’t push the slide back in now.”

“Yes.”

“The runner will break.”

“I know.”

”And we can’t travel with the slide out.”

“I know.”

“And there isn’t much water in the tank and the batteries are knackered.”

“I KNOW.”

What now?

. . . . to be continued . . . no, not for weeks and weeks like Airport Gestapo, just one more episode. I’m only thinking of you. I don’t want you to get eye strain.

Bed slide on travel trailer
See that thing sticking out the back? No! Not him! That’s Jimmy sweeping acorns off the roof. I mean see the bed slide previous to the cracked runner incident. He pushed it in with ease that time. Happy days!”