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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What If -The Rest of The Story

On that hot August night in downtown Washington, DC, I found myself in a serious situation.  One that I hoped I'd never run in to, but had been trained for.

In my career as a Special Agent, training was a big part of my life.  Qualifications, requalifications, classes, updates, new instructions, hands on techniques practiced again and again.  It was all designed to keep you on your toes and at the top of your game.

But the biggest thing that I went over again and again was the "What Ifs".  Sometimes it would be just thinking about what I'd do in a certain situation, other times it was a good topic at lunch with my fellow agents, or even a great discussion during training sessions with instructors that had been around for a long time.

Like a basketball player who visualized hitting a basket, mentally I pictured myself involved in various scenarios and went over what I would do if that situation ever presented itself.

So, how does this all tie in to the RV lifestyle?  Stay with me on this and let me ask a question:

How would you handle an RV "What If" situation?

What if you had a blow out of a front tire while you're driving down the highway? How do you keep from running off the road?

What if you had a fire on the stove?  Where is the fire extinguisher located?

What if the refrigerator suddenly caught fire?  How would you get out of the RV?  Do you know where  the emergency escape windows are and how they open?

What if the RV became engulfed in flames, what would happen to your wallet, your purse, your car keys, your cell phone?   Have you ever thought about a "Bail Out Bag" kept by the door with important items, extra keys, cash, credit cards, ID that you could grab on the way out of the RV in an emergency exit?

What if the primary driver of your RV fell down and suffered a broken leg, would you know how to operate all the RV systems and be able to drive it?

There are many "What Ifs" that you suddenly could be faced when you least expect it, would you be prepared to be able to handle it?  By taking a few minutes once in a while and thinking over what you would do in an emergency could turn a bad situation into one that you'd be able to handle with less trouble, it could prevent a catastrophe or even save your life, or the life of a loved one. 

As I started to squeeze the trigger, Jeep Girl must have heard my shout, even though it took a second to penetrate her rage.  She stopped moving her arm, turned her head and looked at me.  Her eyes popped, she dropped the screwdriver and let go of the punched girl who staggered back and leaned against a nearby car.  I ordered Jeep Girl to the ground and took control of the screwdriver. 

While I was handling this situation, another police officer, off duty, pulled up to the gas pumps.  When she saw the situation and the other girls that were brawling, she put out an "Officer Needs Assistance call and in minutes there were about twenty DC Metro Police officers on scene.

The result?  All the girls were arrested by the DC Police for disorderly conduct.  Jeep Girl was charged with aggravated assault and went to jail.

And me? I went home and went to bed instead of having to deal with loads of paperwork from a shooting situation.  I had "What If-d" this type of situation many times and when it happened, I reacted instinctively instead of watching a tragedy occur in front of me.

One Coast Guard Commandant I had worked for had a motto:  "Preparation Equals Performance".  I had prepared and the one time in my thirty year career I had to draw my weapon, I was ready.

Now I'm doing the "What If" on how much fun it'll be on the road full time in the Journey with Marti by my side.

PS:  Even though I was a federal agent, in situations it's better to announce yourself as "Police" because it is much more recognizable to people.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.


  1. Thanks for finishing your story. It left us on the edge of our seats. My best friend's husband was also a special agent for the government. We traveled a great deal together during vacations and we always felt safe because we felt we had our own body guard with us!! However, they aren't into RVing. Wanna travel with us?? We need someone to handle our "what ifs" and Duchess is getting older. LOL

  2. So grateful you didn't have to fire that weapon. But glad you had it just in case. We've gone over the What Ifs for Rving several times but need to do it again. You can never be over prepared. If you're going to travel with Wanderin', we'll be joining up with you.

  3. Hi Paul. I think of the what ifs but I still don't feel prepared. My biggest concern is a tsunami that follows a major earthquake off the central California coast. I've been asking myself if I should just hang it up if I feel the earth quaking or should I try to outrun it. Japan left me with a bit of a trauma syndrome! What's your advice oh wise one?

  4. We have gone through a few 'what-ifs' ourselves. Our important things (ID, keys, etc.) are hanging in the closet by the door. Everything else is a smaller version of our 'stuff'.

    Once we actually hit the road, I need to get comfortable driving the truck/fifth wheel.

  5. Glad this story had a (relatively) happy ending. How long ago was this?!

  6. Denise,

    This took place August 2006. But it's still fresh in my mind.

    Now I need to visit some wide open spaces in our Journey to air out my brain. ;c)

  7. What if you sold your house today, and finally hit the road the way I got out of the parking lot, finally?.....PARTY!!

  8. Not joking here - the answer to what to do while you wait for the house to sell is to get started writing that Security Agent Thriller that will hit the best seller list and finance keeping the house/giving the house away/shutting the door and walking away.......

    Great story - had us on the edge of our seats and wonderful analogy.

    Fire is my biggest fear and I don't know exactly how to keep all the important papers etc "right by the door".

  9. You have provoke a lot of thinking about the "What ifs?"

    Thanks, that is a good thing to think about and make some plans.

  10. Because we are travelling in Mexico at the moment we don't like leaving all our important belongings by the door (we have them nicely hidden!). We have scanned all our important papers and have emailed them to ourselves so that we can access them from any computer. When travelling you always have to expect the unexpected and you can never be too prepared! Thanks for stopping by.

    Kevin and Ruth

  11. I'm going thru way to many what ifs these days. Tme to just do it!

  12. Thought provoking post and great story. I have three copies of our medical info when we travel - one in the motorhome, one in the toad, and one in my purse. I need to do some more what if-ing though!!

    I agree with the others...a novel might be in your future.

  13. humm what if...I've been there and analyzed alot of scenarios also. Especially while on the can never be too careful in my books. I have a list for when we leave..copies of all important info (medical and copies of our passports) will be made and also in the toad as well as the RV..there will be a dummy wallet with expired credit cards etc in it and fake ID as well as a couple of dollars.

    As for the rig..if something happened to Rick, I'm confident I could get us from point A - point B...I do know how to hitch the car and unhitch it and dump all tanks..check the tire pressure and gas the rig..and drive it down the road.

    We need to also remember the important things at home folks, just in case something happens. I have a safe where I have our wills, and all important insurance policies and contact information for our kids to access should they ever have to-before leaving I will also put our oldest daughters name on all of our bank accounts so they can be accessed should anything happen to us...

    be safe

  14. life is full of 'what if's..thanks for the 'what if a buyer came along?..are you ready my friends??'

  15. Good point - we all need to think about the 'what ifs'. We have a fire safe in one of the bins with important papers and Ron is working on improving the emergency exit with a step. I like Donna's idea about putting copies in the toad.

  16. Agree with most of the comments above... Paul, you've got a real talent for writing. Great post.