Floored by Gratitude While Sheltering in an RV
Vol.6 Issue 3

Submitted by Craig Whitbeck, Quality Management System, Program Manager Aeronautical Information Services (AJV-A)

Months before the COVID-19 was on our radar, I had received a letter about a class action lawsuit. This letter provoked particular excitement since I had been waiting nearly five years to hear the outcome. The lawsuit concerned the flooring in my house that had become an eyesore and eventually became a safety hazard. Besides severe warping, there was insidious black mold lurking beneath. The letter I received provided instructions on how to file a claim. Hope of receiving any reimbursement was still a year or more away.

I didn’t want to live another 12-months tripping over a floor that resembled a skate boarder’s half pipe nor inhaling potentially toxic mold. With Spring break on the horizon, I thought that this was the perfect time to repair my floors. My wife and daughter’s plans included attending a USAA swim meet and then traveling on to Florida to see the grandparents. My plan was to live in our Recreational Vehicle (RV) and continue working while providing oversight to the contractor while my family was away. I had arranged for a portable-on-demand storage (POD) to be sent to my home and hired "Gio" to move our furniture and life’s possessions. It was March 1st, when we moved into the RV and expected to return to our newly floored home on March 22nd.

Craig’s mode of shelter during his floor renovation.

Rental of a Personal on-demand-storage (POD) was beneficial when storing furniture and home materials.
Floor renovation in progress.
Remnants from the old flooring.

Things were going smoothly until my wife landed in St. Louis and learned that the swim meet was canceled due to the spread of the coronavirus. Her plans and mine, (and the whole world) for that matter were about to change. The University of Missouri who was hosting the swim meet decided to close their campus. This was my first indication that COVID-19 was very serious and would soon affect everyone’s lives.

I helped my wife change her travel plans and luckily she caught a next-day flight to Florida. Our flooring contractors continued to work and I was responsible for feeding my daughter’s pet bunny rabbits while they were away. Upon appearance, Charlotte and Fern seem to be nice pets. Charlotte is very tame, while Fern is wild and strikes fear into anyone (except my daughter) who attempts to feed her.

Charlotte, the nice quiet, calm pet.
Fern, the not-so-friendly, one-owner bunny.
Getting items ready for storage.

My normal telework day is Friday, and there were rumors flying about extended teleworking while the pandemic was being monitored. That Friday, my office was instructed to telework until further notice. Alone in the RV, I kept up my normal routine while staying in touch with co-workers through Skype, email, and telephone. Plans at work were rapidly changing, since every task would be converted to virtual completion. Luckily, my organization uses automation software and computers to publish products through the FAA’s public web site. A recent office renovation project further prepared my organization to work in a completely virtual environment.

After two weeks of living in the RV, Spring break was coming to an end and we learned that school would be postponed, and potentially canceled for the rest of the year. Stuck in Florida (not a bad place), my family considered staying there for the indefinite future. Our flooring contractor was having problems in removing our floors, so I extended my RV campsite for another month. I went to the grocery and found the chicken aisle stripped bare. I settled for some lunch meat, soup, three bags of chips, telling myself that I can make do for another week or two. Only until this moment did I start to sweat, and thought that I might need help. My cooking is limited and although I do grill, I’m not good at preparing a balanced meal. Isolated in an RV, I decided to put away two bags of chips to prevent tipping the scales at a new record.

Voilà.! The end result… New wood floors!

Our office offered up a ’no shave’ challenge for the men during this pandemic. My personal challenge was to sustain my weight or try not to gain more than five pounds. It is Easter season and I personally plan to spend more time reading, reflecting, and being grateful. Waking up each morning, I try to think of ten things that I’m grateful for in my life. One is the birds chirping in the morning that remind me of nature and its beauty. Another is the roaring trucks zooming by my campground. Why am I thankful for noisy trucks? They remind me of the men and women refilling our grocery shelves with chicken and providing much-needed medical supplies for our health care workers. And now, I’m thankful for having my family back home (in our RV) and for healthier meals and their companionship. No, the floors still aren’t finished but I am grateful that the contractors are still working in the midst of these difficult times.

For my fellow colleagues, I would like to recommend a book called The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly. It’s based on real stories from a janitorial services company. It’s an unlikely place for dreams and I’m sure it will inspire you. I am inspired by my co-workers and those in our country who work tirelessly to help others during this national health crisis. Might I suggest, take time to capture your dreams. We need dreams to sustain us through these times and to create a better future. Stay strong and be safe. Together we will prevail.

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