By Gail Marsh
We were excited to finally open our windows. After one solid week of RVing in the rain, the skies cleared. All day we looked forward to nighttime – sleeping with the fresh, cool air breezing through our open bedroom windows. But then – smoke! And not from a campfire this time!
Our new RVing neighbor and his buddies decided to light up some cigars. Yep, cigars! At 12 o’clock midnight. Maybe they didn’t realize that the wonderfully fresh breeze was blowing their foul cigar air directly into our bedroom windows. Or maybe they didn’t consider the cigar smell to be bad at all. Not wanting to cause a problem, we reluctantly closed our windows.
The following day we decided to inquire how long our neighbors planned to camp, and if they had any more “stogie nights” planned. The answers were not what we’d hoped: Two weeks and a full box of Cuban specials. Ugh! What to do? With the CG filled with RVs we couldn’t request a different site.
We decided that we had to let “Mr. Stogie” know that the smoke bothered us. We tactfully suggested that maybe he and his smoking buddies might take advantage of the picnic tables in the CG’s outdoor pavilion or enjoy relaxing on the chairs beside the lake. Luckily, “Mr. Stogie” acknowledged his actions and apologized. We enjoyed fresh nighttime air for the four remaining nights of our stay. Hopefully the “Stogie Guys” enjoyed their vacation as well.
I share this story because everything could just as well have ended much differently. Imagine if my hubby had stormed over to the smoking neighbors (at midnight) and shouted about how terrible they were to ruin our camping experience. Or imagine if the next day we loudly complained to the CG owner, insisting that they refund our money or evict the “Stogie guys” … or both! Instead, we approached in a friendly and honest manner. We provided a few alternative solutions, and the problem did not escalate.
To me, this is common courtesy or Communication 101:
- Choose an appropriate time to talk. Not when you’re tired, hungover, or simmering with anger.
- Approach in a friendly (non-aggressive) way.
- Be aware of your body language and your voice tone and volume.
- Try to settle disputes so that everybody wins.
How might the situation have changed if Mr. Stogie reacted to our approach with a self-righteous, “Mind your own business,” or “I paid for this campsite and I can do whatever the @%^# I want” attitude? Things may have escalated even more. If we hadn’t told our cigar-loving neighbors about the smoke irritation, they would not have known and perhaps bothered the next camper. Hubby and I may have cut our trip short and angrily left in a huff.
As summer approaches with more and more RVs squeezing into campgrounds, you might find yourself in a tricky situation like ours. I hope you can settle potential problems quickly and easily. I hope you do it honestly and graciously, as well.
There are jerks everywhere. Many times, it turns out they aren’t jerks at all! Sometimes it turns out that (shocker!) I’m the jerk. I just don’t realize it unless someone tells me. (In a nice way, of course!)