It was quite unexpected. The pick-up time was 1:30 P.M., and I arrived well in advance, but my rental was far from ready. Instead, all were servicing the magnificent super-models queue-up across the lot, each with its set of genteel owners impatiently hovering around their crafts.

Down at the very end, my RV waited patiently for service, like a caboose on a Bullet Train; a harsh introduction to the RV pecking order!

Experience would soon demonstrate the rigidity of this cast system, a world in which owners of vehicles similar to my rental were cordial, and helpful, where the gas pump became a place of greetings, mutual gas-price anguish, directions to the closest dumping station, and other helpful hints. Behavior, possibly encouraged by the rental company’s brazen advertising emblazoned across the rig, a proclamation of this newbie’s fledgling venture. Whereas the pilots of those palatial models nary cast a glance in our direction…I envied the size of their holding tanks.

Five minutes before closing time a heavily tattooed fellow escorted me on a whirlwind tour through the intricacies of my vehicle. Within minutes my head was spinning. Any attempt to slow him down drew expressions of impatience…especially, when I pointed out the empty propane tank they had neglected to fill. I consoled myself that it would all be in the manual, which as it turned out had been removed and replaced with a few typed pages of superficial instructions and a couple of numbers to call for road-side assistance. He concluded his duties by handing me the keys, pointing to the exit ramp and disappearing between the maze of vehicles. So it was that I threw caution to the winds and pulled out into rush-hour traffic on a major highway.

I was a fast study in determining exactly where the wheels were with respect to the traffic lane. This lesson was helpfully reinforced by the gracious horn blasts of vehicles to either side, and by incidental hand gestures thrown by passing motorists. I learned also to avoid the rear view mirror at any cost, as it only reflected the long interior expanse connected to the steering wheel. Once I mastered this trick, it was much easier to pretend I was happily driving along in my little VW Beetle.

About two minutes from home, I had a terrifying thought- The gateposts that guarded our long country lane now seemed impossibly close together. The words of an RV-savvy friend rang in my ears:”Remember to pull almost through the intersection before attempting to turn.” Perhaps this same strategy might apply. ‘Perhaps’ nothing… it was all I had going. Well, after several realignments, which backed up traffic in either direction, I took the plunge. Save for the morning glory vines that once covered the open gates and now adorned the vehicle we slid in unscathed. Of course having gone through this passage again upon leaving and twice more upon returning I get the urge to smugly buff my nails on my sleeve.