Note: This is a repost of a blog from a few years ago, and I still hear these wild tales now and then.
I guess when you fulltimed for as many years as we did and you publish an RV newspaper and blog, people seem to think that you’re some kind of expert. We all know better, but it doesn’t stop people from asking me questions. I try to answer them to the best of my ability, and if I don’t know and can’t find the answer, I tell them so. But apparently there are some folks who don’t really care what they tell people, as long as they say something.
This is evidenced by the same stories I hear over and over and the same questions that are repeated on almost a weekly basis. Sometimes these “RV myths” are no more than urban legends that started years ago and never completely die, but I truly believe some are spread by people in the RV industry for their own selfish reasons. With most of them, just a little bit of common sense will make you realize they are false.
The Gas Thief – I can’t remember when I first heard the tale of an RV owner who went outside one morning to find a garden hose sticking out of his black water tank and a pool of vomit on the ground. As the story goes, some miscreant thought he was stealing gas and siphoned the black tank instead. While we’d all like to see karma coming around and biting some jerk like that in the butt, it’s not true. I’ve been around every kind of RV ever made over the years and I have never seen one with a cap or outside access to siphon the waste tanks.
Ten Year Rule – Another one that I hear about over and over is the Ten Year Rule, and I have heard this myself from an RV salesman. According to the story, RV parks have a rule not to allow any RV over ten years old, so you need to buy a brand new rig if you plan to travel for a long time. Yes, there are a relatively few RV parks nationwide that have a ten year rule, but they are few and far between.
Rest Area Attacks – Never stay in a rest area overnight. Roving gangs of drug fiends are just waiting to prey on you! They will climb up on the roof, pry open your fan vent cover, spray pepper spray inside to force you out, and then rob you. That’s nonsense. First of all “drug fiends” don’t run around in gangs and they aren’t energetic or smart enough to go to all that work when they can steal a bike or TV or something right there in town to sell or trade for their next high. We have spent the night at rest areas from coast to coast and never had a problem with drug fiends or anyone else.
Becoming A Drug Mule – Apparently it’s not just the “drug fiends” you have to watch out for. Another popular story is about how drug dealers will stash their product in your storage bays or on the roof or wherever while you are looking the other way and you drive off not knowing you have just become a drug smuggler. Whenever I hear this one, I always ask how they know where you are headed so they can retrieve the drugs when you get there? Is their network so big that they have contacts all over the country? And how do they know when you arrive wherever you are going?
Vandalism At WalMart – Recently I’ve heard three or four stories about RVers who spent the night at WalMart only to wake up the next morning to find tires slashed and graffiti sprayed on their RV, and a note under their windshield wiper that says “Next time don’t be a cheapskate!” and signed “Local RV park owner.” I have no doubt that there have been occasional incidents of vandalism at rest areas, truck stops and WalMarts, but I seriously doubt any RV park owner is responsible. And if they were, what are the chances they’d take the time to leave such a note? I think a very few RV park owners might spread a rumor like that, but usually if they want to stop RVers from stopping at WalMart they go to the city council and try to get a rule passed to ban the practice.
Fuel Island Mishap – This is one that makes the rounds every so often. An RVer stops at a Flying J fuel island and is distracted by a phone call or whatever and fills his tank with the water hose used to flush down spills. Is anybody really that dumb? I know of a couple of instances where people pumped gas in to a diesel or the other way around, but if you can’t tell the difference between a water hose laying on the ground and a fuel hose attached to a pump, you’re probably better off staying home.
More Fuel Island Dangers – There was a self-styled “security expert” doing seminars at RV rallies a while back who claimed that while you were filling your tank at truck stop fuel islands, criminals would slip inside your motorhome and hide until you got back on the road. Then they would walk up behind you and shoot you in the back of the head. He never could explain why they did this, or how they survived the crash after the RV went off the road with a dead driver behind the wheel.
Cruise Control – I think I heard this the first time about an hour after the first car came out with cruise control. Back then a driver supposedly put the car on cruise control and took a nap or read a newspaper. These days it’s an RVer pushing the cruise control button and then walking to the back of the rig to make a sandwich or go to the bathroom.
Residential Appliances – More than once I have heard somebody insist that you can’t put a residential refrigerator in an RV. The fact that a lot of RVs come with residential refrigerators right from the factory doesn’t sway their opinion. Yes, you can put residential appliances in an RV. In our MCI bus conversion we had a residential refrigerator, stove, washing machine, and dryer. One “expert” insisted that we could not have a house style refrigerator in our bus and every time we crossed paths at an RV rally he reminded us it would not work. As much as five years after we installed it he was telling us it was only a matter of time before it failed. We also replaced the factory installed Norcold RV refrigerator with a Samsung residential model in our Winnebago diesel pusher.
Deadly Dishes – We don’t hear this one very often any more since newer technology has pretty much replaced them, but we still see a tripod mounted two-way satellite dish occasionally. Back in the day, the folks who sold the much more expensive roof mounted automatic dishes were spreading all kinds of nonsense. Among the rumors and lies floating around that we have heard ourselves is that the dishes put out high degrees of RF energy that could be lethal, and that a person had walked past an RV where a tripod dish was being used and it “blew an ink pen he had in his shirt pocket clear through his heart.” Another popular rumor we heard over and over again was that the dishes were illegal and that government agents were cruising through RV parks looking for tripod dishes to confiscate, and the owners of said dishes to arrest and to confiscate their RVs. We were also told that if a user did not aim the dish properly it could do anything from disrupt other satellite communications to “knock communications satellites and aircraft out of the sky.” My response to this is that if the dishes had that capability, every teenage kid and home-grown terrorist would be out in his backyard right now zapping things out of the heavens.
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Thought For The Day – Relax, we’re all crazy. It’s not a competition.
In many areas ‘sliding’ is something to be wary of at gas stations, and is a very good reason to keep your door locked. Would they do it with a motorhome? Probably not a class A, given the lack of doors. But I have a class C and I do keep the doors locked when I’m not with the rig.
Right on!! I’m full time and Escapees member since 1985. I completely agree with everything you said. RVers are less personal now than in the 80’s, but still mostly great people.
These are crazy- We’ve had some bad people experiences while car camping (just got my little trailer recently), but I don’t think any of our “assaults” were organized enough to be grouped into a category. Car scratches, some stolen gas, intimidation.