I almost assaulted an RV salesman this weekend.
If it hadn’t been for the fact that my children were present, assault is illegal, and I don’t believe in violence, I’d have done my very best to knock the guy on his ass. And I’m pretty sure it would have felt good when I inevitably succeeded.
I knew when we pulled up to the large lot filled with motorhomes that we would be a salesperson’s worst nightmare. I’ve made a living on commission before and understand that there are few things more frustrating than people who are “just looking”. I decided to dash the poor guy’s hopes of a sale before we finished shaking hands, giving him a chance to save his time for more lucrative prospects.
“We have no idea what kind of RV we want, so we’re just looking around today to get a feel for the different types that are available,” I explained after a quick introduction and explanation of our upcoming travel plans.
“No problem,” he assured us, “I’ll show you a few things.”
It was the last polite thing he said to me.
We hopped onto a golf cart and took off down the gravel path lined with RVs of various shapes and sizes. We stopped in front of a mid-sized Class C motorhome and the kids quickly scrambled off of the golf cart and into the miniature house on wheels. As I climbed the stairs behind them, the salesman began his line of questioning.
“How much are you looking to spend?”
“We’re not entirely sure,” I said, “because we haven’t decided yet which type of RV makes sense for us. I know the price varies quite a bit, so we want to decide what style would work for us before we decide on a budget. We do know we’ll be buying used. Probably very used.” I thought about the Craigslist ads I’d been scanning that morning.
“How much do you want to spend per month?”
I bristled immediately because I loathe the mindset that says the price of an item is equal to the monthly premium-plus-interest payment you pay to a finance company. But I get it. Most of the people he talks to probably think in terms of monthly payments. I calmly reasserted that, “we don’t have a set budget yet,” and added, “but we do know we will not be financing.”
“You can get this for $500 per month.”
I was now slightly more annoyed.
“Yeah, we aren’t financing,” I repeated.
“How are you going to pay for it?”
“Uh, with cash?”
He stared back at me blankly, as if the idea of someone paying for a product with money instead of credit was completely foreign to him.
We moved on to the next Class C motorhome, which looked nearly identical to the first one on the inside and out. This one, however, was used, and therefore significantly less expensive.
“This is a great deal. If you buy it today, I can get it to you for less than $500 a month.”
“We will not be financing.”
“You can pay the monthly payment for a few months and then pay it off this summer if you really want.”
I felt my first urge to maybe shove him a little.
I turned and walked out of the motorhome and climbed back into the back of the golf cart, calling the kids to jump on board as well. Jared could sense my irritation and took on the familiar role of peace-keeper.
“Is this about the smallest size these come in?” he asked when the salesmen reclaimed his spot in the driver’s seat.
“You don’t want anything smaller than that for four people.”
“Right, no, I uh, was just wondering. What size is this?”
“21 feet.” (To his credit, that is actually the smallest size that Class C motorhomes come in, which he could have just said.)
“But with a family, you need more space than that. You want something bigger.”
“Yeah, right, ok, I uh… ok,” Jared stammered. I bit my lip to stop from laughing as my extremely affable husband rolled his eyes while we rolled on to the next row of RVs.
Over the course of the next 45 minutes or so, we saw a handful of vehicles that were not at all what we were looking for and a few that would, surprisingly, be a great match. We thought about styles and options we hadn’t even considered before and eliminated others. We’ve narrowed our search to either a small Class C motorhome or a towable travel trailer that our SUV can handle. In other words, we got exactly the information we were looking for.
We also got a lesson in how we are supposed to live in an RV.
- We are not to ever stay in a hotel if we own an RV, because doing so “makes no sense. There’s no point in buying an RV if you’re going to ever stay in a hotel.”
- We are to make friends with everyone in the campground, because “that’s the whole point of RVing is to make relationships with other RVers. That’s why people do it.”
- We are to tow a vehicle behind the RV, because “that’s what people with families do. You want to keep the RV in one place for a long time and just hop in your car if you have to go to the store.”
I was visibly fuming by the time we got back into our own car and headed to the beach for dinner.
“I know,” Jared patted my leg before I’d even had a chance to speak.
“Why couldn’t he just tell me about the damn RVs? I didn’t need a lecture on the one and only way to use one!”
“The thing is,” I admitted to Jared, “he might have even had some valid tips to share, but I was so busy defending myself from all the unsolicited advice he was shoving down my throat, I wouldn’t have wanted to listen to him anyway.”
I was furious. Every time he told me how things should be or how things are, I felt my back stiffen as I calmly tried to explain what we were doing. I didn’t even bother trying to justify our plans.
I shouldn’t have to.
I didn’t ask for lifestyle advice and I made it very clear what I did need from him. An adult should assume that I know what I want for myself better than they do. Of course, it’s not really just about that.
I’m still irked when I think about it and I realize that it’s not because he was a pushy (and bad) salesperson, but because he was the physical embodiment of my fears about doing things differently. He was societal judgment and self doubt incarnate.
Stepping outside the norm is scary. Without any input from friends, family or strangers, I have my own list of things that could go wrong and reasons to not make any changes in my life. Like everyone else, my instinct is to cling to the known and it takes concerted effort to work against that instinct.
I know that challenging old norms gets easier with practice, but this one is still new. I’m not quite to “it’s totally OK if you think I’m crazy because I know without a doubt this is the right thing for us” just yet. And, sure, that’s my issue and not some random RV salesperson’s problem.
But when someone openly asserts that your way is wrong, it’s hard not to let that arrogance validate all of your own doubts.
And sometimes, it’s hard to resist openly telling those “doubts” to screw off.