Black Mold Friday the 13th
Twelve thousand five hundred pounds of an RV stood almost as tall as the roofline of my mobile home. Parked in front of my hedge, it seemed to match the full width of my house, too.
Mostly, I felt excitement but did have the occasional what the hell have I done? thought run through my mind. But after I finally got the courage to climb the ladder up to the over cab bunk I was flooded with regret that I'd ever had this crazy idea, that I ever gave my virgin RV buying trust to a used RV salesperson and that I didn't climb up that damn ladder hours earlier.
Maybe Friday the 13th wasn't the best day to purchase an RV?
If you've ever stayed up late watching the tube you've undoubtedly seen scare tactic ads for a mold remediation company. Their spokesperson, dressed in hazmat white, instills the fear of God into you that you'll die a slow painful death if you're exposed to toxic mold.
Yes, it can be dangerous; for people who have allergies and sensitivities to mold. But fortunately I'm not one of them. Years ago I removed drywall covered in black mold from a garage, sent a sample to a lab for identification and indeed it was the feared stachybotrys. But here I am, thirteen years later, alive and well.
I immediately called the RV dealer manager and left a message for her to call me first thing in the morning. I was certain she would.
That evening I rode waves of regret and anger but by the time I'd crawled into bed I assured myself that every problem has a solution and I was confident there'd be one for this situation.
I woke up unusually early and posted my happy news about the RV and my concern about the mold in a Face Book group for RV owners.
"Take it back and break the contract," was the first response thirty seconds after I'd posted. I was a bit startled to see such a strong directive.
The thread was populated with Lemon Law, return it, get an attorney, sue them, fight them, picket them, report them.
My heart rate quickened the more I read the comments. I prepared for battle! It was eleven a.m. and I hadn't heard from the manager. I left another message.
I imagined taping a huge sign to the side of my RV, This Dealer Sells Toxic Mold RV's, and I'd park right next to their entrance. I'd demand to be spoken to, I'd threaten them with lawsuits and a social media shaming blitz the likes of which they'd never seen before!
I left messages for mold removal companies claiming to provide 24/7 service. None of them seemed to think my Saturday morning mold issue was as urgent as I did. But if I was going to break the contract I had to do it quickly and I needed an estimate for the mold removal that I had already decided the dealership would refuse to pay.
While sipping my third cup of tea I wondered what happened to the calm reasonable person who went to bed thinking there's a solution to every problem?
She got caught in the current of the crowd.
There were some comments on the thread suggesting, get it fixed and enjoy the adventure, congratulations - it will all work out, some bleach and a fan will take care of it, have the dealer check for leaks and then get out and have fun!
But I wasn't paying attention to those comments. And I know why.
The reptilian part of my brain got the danger signal. Once the amygdala region perceives a threat it continues to feed into it rather than find solutions to the threat. When we're in the fight-or-flight mode it's all about survival not creative problem-solving.
So I gave myself an amygdala intervention. I called a logical-minded cousin who'd owned an RV and is a doctor. His lilting laughter washed away my fears. "Girl, this is the first of many things that will go wrong when you own an RV. "
At four p.m. I called the dealership again. This time I spoke with the service manager who gave me the assurance I needed. They'd take care of it to my satisfaction, determining if there was any active leak - perform any necessary repairs if needed and remove the mold and thoroughly clean the upholstery.
As I venture out on the road in my RV I'm going to face many challenges. But that's all they are. And there absolutely is a solution to each and every one of them. I'm not going to let my amygdala take hold of the steering wheel. She's absolutely necessary in times of true danger but she doesn't have the maturity to navigate my future.
Quotes From People at the Dealership
Salesman: "Well, since you ask a lot of questions, the orientation will probably take longer than normal - but they'll go over every question."
Service Dept: "When I worked at Mercedes, no one asked for a list of what we checked when we sold our certified pre-owned vehicles."
Me: "I'm not buying a certified pre-owned Mercedes."
Manager: "I'm sorry we just couldn't make you happy. All our customers are happy with the service we give them."
Me: "I called you on a Friday evening about black mold in the RV and asked that you call me first thing in the morning. It's Sunday afternoon."
Service Dept: "Mrs. Hayes, we'll get you all set."
Me: "Please call me Ms. Hayes. I've worked long and hard for that."
If you'd like to follow my journey as I head out on the road at the end of May, please sign up to follow my RSS feed.