The old man and I went fishing with the baby yesterday. It got me to thinking about backing a trailer (mostly because it’s such a zoo when we do it). I really hope that my daughter inherits the trailer-backing gene from my husband. I obviously don’t have it. Theoretically, I should be an awesome trailer-backer; I totally understand the geometry and the concept. It’s the implementation that gets me.
Really, I’m not a total idiot; I somehow managed to get through engineering school. I just don’t seem to possess the required hand to eye coordination for backing a trailer. Even when my husband gets it all lined up on the ramp and all I have to do is go backwards, I still screw it up. Poor guy. He’ll say, “Okay, I have it all backed up and ready to go. When I give you the hand signal, put it in reverse and take it the final 3 feet. DO NOT TURN THE WHEEL.” So I get in on the driver’s side, wait for the hand signal, put it in reverse and the next thing I know, I have the trailer jackknifed and the boat hanging off the edge of the ramp with my husband hanging on for dear life. Luckily, he has learned to put on his lifejacket before we begin the process. Near-death experiences will do that to a man.
What makes it worse is that he can’t understand why I have this particular inability – or don’t have this particular ability. The man has his Class A CDL meaning that, at some point in his life, he parallel parked a semi. It is completely beyond him why he can parallel park a semi, and I can’t back a trailer 6 feet down a ramp. But he has learned to adjust and we now have a system. You see, I can pull a trailer. Not that that is much of an accomplishment since all you have to do is turn a little wider (a skill the guy across the street has yet to acquire) and give yourself plenty of stopping room. Here’s the system: my husband backs the boat into the water, gets out of the truck and into the boat, I get into the driver’s seat and wait for the signal. When he has the boat off the trailer, he signals me, and I pull the trailer out and park it. Then I get the baby, the fishing poles, the life jackets, the tackle box, the diaper bag, the camera, and the cooler (we can never remember to put all that stuff into the boat before-hand) and proceed down to the dock where I hand him the baby and all our crap. Then I climb into the boat and away we go. When it is time to go home, we pull up to the dock and I hold on, my husband goes and gets the trailer (expertly backing it out of whatever ridiculously tiny mud-bogged corner I parked it in hoping he would mess up and I could finally laugh at him for once), puts the trailer into the water, and gets back into the boat. At that time, I proceed with the baby to the truck and anxiously await his hand signal to pull him out. Occasionally, he panics and starts waving his arms. The first time it happened, I thought that signal meant “Faster! Faster!”
Apparently, I was wrong. For those who do not know and who do not want to have their husband holler at them – frantic arm waving actually means “Stop! Stop!” or “Turn left! Turn left!” depending on the time of day.