It was the right thing to do
I just knew it was the right thing to do! I was confident that when the time was right, God would send me a buyer! And because I followed the seed (idea) which He planted in my heart and mind, He did just that!
I had known for several months that I was going to have to sell my handicapped conversion van. I had not been feeling like going out but once or twice a week, and the expense of the van sitting out in the driveway had become an albatross around my shrinking bank account, instead of the blessing it had been for the past five years.
Looking back through some documents, I was reminded that the van had arrived here from Akron, Ohio, on Aug. 21, 2009, and now I sold it on Aug. 28, 2014. Just a little over five years of enjoying something I should have bought a long time before then.
But this story started one beautiful day as I was sitting out in the shade thinking and praying about how my health is changing once again. With the card ministry as the center focus of my time, I watch and read almost anything pertaining to our soldiers. It is just wonderful what many good Samaritans do for some of our veterans.
I talk to myself a lot and suddenly I thought, “It would really be nice if I could sell the van to a veteran!” The seed took root and I began to think about how to get this word out to veterans who want or need one of these vehicles. I first advertised it in The Salisbury Post. I had several calls and a couple men came to check it out. Their greatest need was a ramp to take their disabled spouses in and out. (They did not need all the “bells and whistles” on my van. Although I needed the money and wanted to sell it, I discouraged them with the explanation that this van was converted mainly for a handicapped driver.)
The next day I happened to be out near Airport Road so I went to the gate at the National Guard facility and asked about advertising it there. On the first Tuesday morning after the idea was born, I took the van to Thelma’s Restaurant during their coffee time and one veteran who was in charge took pictures and promised to advertise it at all of the American Legion Posts after he returns from a two-week vacation.
Another day, I went into town to have a new picture made to go with my articles. The picture had been in the paper five years since I had my first book published. (A lot of things sure have happened in the past “five” years.) I was telling Jon Lakey, the photographer, how I wished I could get something about it on a TV station and he gave me David Whisnant’s phone number. When I called and explained to David what was going on, he agreed to come to the parking lot and take some pictures. He put the pictures and a short article on the WSOC website. The next day my phone started ringing. I had a call from Columbia, SC and somewhere in Tennessee. I told the veteran in Tennessee that it would be a long way for him to drive to look at a vehicle he might not even like. I detected the despair and depression in his voice when he told me it didn’t matter how far he had to come to get something he had needed for so long. I explained that I was taking the van that day to show it to a veteran at the VA Retirement Center right here in Salisbury.
I told my mechanic friend, Jasper that we should go in business together. I could find used vans, he could restore them, and I could sell conversion vans to a lot of folks. I believe I could have had a bidding war and received more money than I was asking. Instead, I dropped the price to what the veteran here offered. Bruce has no legs and wants to get a handicapped apartment. He fell in love with my van as soon as he saw it. I wish I had dozens more to provide for those who have lost so much in service for our country.
When I arrived at the VA Retirement Center, there sat my prospective buyer in his wheelchair. He had to have both legs amputated about a year ago due to other health problems, but he served in Vietnam. I remembered how some of those veterans were treated when they came back to the USA after the war. I wished I could have given the van to him.
But I had a loan to pay off and my own battles to fight. I was amazed, however, when he made me an offer before I even opened the door for him to observe the conversion factors. I was ashamed it was so dirty, but I couldn’t afford to have it cleaned up and then sell it.
He made an offer and wanted it right then and there. I explained that the title was being held by Digital Credit Union in Massachusetts. I promised I would get back in touch with him the next day after some discussion with the finance company. One interesting fact was that he was originally from Massachusetts. Even though we did not shake hands, I left there feeling fairly certain the deal was on for sure.
Later that evening, he called and sounded like a completely different person. Several of his cronies were warning him what a chance he would be taking. Because of our wheelchairs, we could not go together to take care of the business transaction and there would be a small window of time when I would have his money, the title, and still have the van in my possession. I was a little bit perturbed that he was questioning my integrity since I had already passed up two offers. Feeling a bit frustrated, I suggested he “sleep on it” and call me first thing the following morning. I didn’t lose any sleep because I knew God would send me another veteran, maybe even the one from Tennessee. One lady asked if I would sell it to her rather than a veteran.
The next morning I was reading the paper thinking I would have to start over with the advertisements. The phone rang and Bruce immediately started apologizing. It seems he had mentioned my name to several people who “knew” me and assured him I would not be dishonest with him in any way. As I was writing this, I thought about the scripture concerning the camel and the eye of a needle. (Matthew 19:16-30)
I had discovered that DCU has two affiliates here in Salisbury and a new Premiere Credit Union opening right next to Aldi’s on Jake Alexander Boulevard. Surprise, surprise…when I looked up the phone number to find out where those two are located, I discovered one is on the VA campus and we could meet there for Bruce to pay off the loan.
That was going to make things so much easier (or so I thought). The van was due for inspection in October and Bruce offered to pay for the inspection if I would have it done while we waited for the title. Susan from Endress Automotive in Woodleaf came, picked up and returned the van after the inspection just as they had before. THANKS!
When I got ready to deliver the van to Bruce, I realized the gas was the lowest it has ever been so I called Bruce and asked if he would like for me to go ahead and have the tank filled up at Woodleaf BP. The employees there have always been willing to pump my gas and even bring my food out to me. THANKS TO ALL OF YOU! Bruce was delighted and promised to cover these expenses. That was another “trust issue” and I had to depend on him to reimburse my bank account with $78.
Within seven days, there I was with the title, complete inspection, and a full tank of gas and on my way to deliver the van to Bruce on the VA campus. It is a beautiful place, but I had no idea it was so BIG! The only other issue was how I would get back home as it may be difficult for me to transfer in and out of some cars or trucks. I discussed this with some good friends and Chuck agreed to leave his truck there, drive me home, and then return the van to Bruce. Chuck is a veteran and goes there for different activities. This was just one of his many “good deeds” of the day! THANKS to Chuck (and Pat, for loaning him to me!)
I needed to return one more time to the credit union at the VA. There were no handicapped spaces where I could put my ramp down so I pulled in at an angle next to one space. There was not a “No Parking” sign and I knew I would not be there long. I did NOT block the ramp to the sidewalk as I had to use it myself.
It ended up being a fruitless trip as I did not qualify to become a member without paying a substantial “chunk of change.” It was really frustrating that there was a very short young lady behind a high counter and it was difficult seeing or hearing her. As I returned to my van, I noticed there was a nice looking young security policeman standing there.
“Is this your van?” he asked. “Yes, it is,” I replied as I rode towards him. “You are blocking the ramp and this is not a parking space,” he barked abruptly. I started trying to explain the situation, but he threatened (at least three times) to call a tow truck.
I was already putting the ramp down and trying to get my power wheelchair into the van. I got so upset with the way he was talking to me that I almost ran off the ramp. Fortunately, another taller policeman had arrived on the scene and the two of them got the power chair back on the ramp and kept me from falling out into the parking lot.
Every time I started trying to explain the situation, the young policeman said, ‘I understand, but you have to move the vehicle or I will call a tow truck.”
There is a bit more involved in moving this van than in backing a car out of a space. And every time he said, “I understand,” I knew he didn’t know what he was talking about. It was obvious that he was exerting his authority over me.
Did he understand how many times I had been blocked in a parking space though I had spent money having a sign put on the window asking people to allow eight feet for clearance? Did he understand that I can neither stand nor walk and would have had no way home without the van? No, because he didn’t care. Would he have had the van towed and left me sitting in the parking lot? Did he understand how selling that van was going to change my life again? Did he understand what a blessing this transaction was going to be for the veteran who was buying it?
The older gentlemen started talking to me. He knew my name and evidently had talked to Bruce about buying my van. He paid me some nice compliments about my interest in our veterans. But he agreed that I needed to move my van; by that time I was transferred to the driver’s seat and wasn’t sure how to find the Retirement Center. He told me to follow them and he would make sure I found Bruce when I got there. I hope the young police officer will learn from his more experienced partner.
Even though I was in the wrong place, I ended up seeing the young cop as someone who was going to show an old lady that he had the authority to have her vehicle towed (actually, at this point it was no longer my vehicle.)
I have since then checked with Bruce and he is really enjoying my van. I have an empty space in my driveway and even a small hole in my heart, but this was the right thing to do! THANKS be to God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit for providing me the opportunity to help answer the prayers of one veteran!
(Linda continues to need used greeting cards, envelopes and other supplies to continue sending cards to soldiers in war counties. (Call her at 704-278-9355 or email email@example.com)