As much as it pains Val to share a feel-good story with her ever-dwindling audience, she can't resist foisting this one upon her readership.
I might not have mentioned it here, but Hick is selling the $1000 Caravan to a guy at work. The deal was made in mid-October. I believe the particulars were for the low, low price of $600, with $200 paid down, and two more payments of $200 to come with successive paydays, the Caravan remaining here until paid for. The dude, let's call him Pete, gave Hick the $200 that day. The next payday came and went. He told Hick he didn't have the money because something came up. Then the next payday, he gave Hick $100. That's all we've gotten. The $1000 Caravan sits over by the barn, its silver duct tape resplendent in the evening sun, holding that passenger-side window closed so that no critters get inside to befoul the gray cloth interior. Which is really in good shape, since that most of the use has been Hick driving it to and from work (without a functioning speedometer), not hauling around a dirty, smelly soccer team.
This morning, interrupting my chair nap, Hick said that if Pete could come up with $100, he felt like letting the guy have the $1000 Caravan, and finish payments later. I agreed. As I was trying to leave work this afternoon, putting my spare shoes in a Walmart bag for The Pony to carry out, Hick called me. Because obviously he can see through the phone, and knows the most awkward moment to foist himself upon me.
"Just a minute. I need two hands. We're trying to put a pair of shoes in a bag."
That did not deter Hick. He kept right on talking. As I forgot the bottle of water I set on my desk to carry out to T-Hoe, and as I struggled to lock my classroom door with one hand, and as I stood beside T-Hoe, unable to clamber up on his running board while holding the phone to my ear.
"I'm getting ready to leave work. We had a little meeting this afternoon. Then I called Pete back to my office. 'Pete. I need to talk to you. You're not in trouble.' We sat down and I told him, 'Val and I talked this morning, and if you can come up with a hundred dollars, you can drive the van home and pay us later. You can wait until after Christmas, and after you get caught up at the first of the year. You can wait until your tax refund if you need to. And if you can only afford fifty dollars right now, that's okay, too. Let me know what you can do. Call me on Sunday and we'll talk.' And Pete started to cry!"
"Oh, no. Because he doesn't have the money? Did you make him cry? I don't want him to feel bad if he can't afford the van! We can give his money back if he needs it."
"No. He wasn't sad. He was happy. It was like he couldn't believe somebody was doing something nice for him. He just got an emergency call yesterday at the plant. It was his wife. The car she has been driving broke down in the middle of nowhere. Apparently, her and the baby--did you know he has a less-than-two-year-old baby? They had been to Walmart, and she broke down on the side of the road. So he had to leave work to go get them."
"I know they have a baby. They brought it to parent conference night, and it had a ladybug in its nose! It's a really cute baby."
"So I know he needs the van. It made me tear up when he started crying. I told him to call me Sunday. To talk it over with his wife. Even if he can't afford anything right now, to call me and we'll talk."
"As long as you didn't make him cry because he can't afford the van. It's just sitting there. I hope it still runs. I don't care how long he takes to pay. But he'll want to pay, because he made the deal."
"It runs. And it has good tires. Those studded snow tires we put on it last year or the year before. Pete is handy. He can tinker with it. I don't think anything major will go wrong."
"Well, then. He needs to come get it Sunday."
"Yeah. I think so too."
Now don't be thinking we should just give the $1000 Caravan to Pete. He's a worker. Not a charity case. I don't think he'd go for that. He might be willing to accept a hand-up. But not a handout.