Friends 4/25/20


Thoughts by Richard Bleil

A thousand bucks won’t buy much of a vehicle these days. My grandfather used to buy used cars for $500. He would drive them until they basically fell out from under him and then move on to the next. Of course, that was a half century ago. Me? I got lucky. I didn’t expect to get an incentive payment because, early on, they were insistent on “checks” and never mentioned direct deposit and since I’ve lived in four different places in the past year, I really didn’t think they’d know where to send it. Fortunately, they did do direct deposit, which was a surprise, but they were also talking about two levels of incentive based on your previous year’s income. My past income was, well, I haven’t made much money in a very long time, so even if I did get an incentive payment, I thought it would be the smaller amount (half of the full amount).

It was a delightful surprise when I actually had a direct deposit of the full amount in my bank account. Without a vehicle, I’ve been concerned about how I would get to interviews or get the remainder of my property out of Iowa, or even how I would relocate if the opportunity came up. Suddenly, I found myself not only with unexpected funds, but more than I am currently paid as well. Having a vehicle (as I’ve discussed earlier) is the first step in getting out of this hole I’ve found myself in because it gives me the freedom to expand my employment search. But, for a thousand bucks, well, you can’t expect much.

What I found was a miracle. I wanted to go through a car dealership to avoid title scams, so figure there’s a markup there, and for more than what I spent they had vehicles that didn’t even start. This one, with significant cargo space not only started, but actually drove without too many problems. Maybe it’s a bit rough but it runs and seems reliable. Ever since, the few times I’ve driven it, I’ve had no problem whatsoever.

Well, one.

The seats won’t adjust. Oh, they tilt up and down, but they won’t move forwards or backwards. The passenger seat was stuck all the way up. There was less legroom than flying coach in modern airliners. I literally could not get my legs into the seat. The driver’s side was stuck all the way back. The vehicle drove, but I was driving with my tippy toes.

Fortunately, one of the great benefits of modern society that was not available when this vehicle was even made is a strong internet with videos on just about any type of problem one can imagine. Sure enough, my exact model was the source of one of these videos discussing how to move the seats when they’re stuck. It would mean setting the seats and not having them being adjustable any longer, but I can live with that. But it also required a power drill (to act as the seat motor) and a set of tools to remove the seat from the vehicle. I have all of the tools I need, but…yep, in Iowa. A four-hour drive using my tiptoes for driving hoping that it works.

I was talking about this with my friend. He’s a really great guy and I’m extremely fortunate to have gotten to know him better than I did before. See, while I like to say that I’m “homeless”, I’m really not. He is allowing me to live with him, so basically, we’re roommates, but he’s even nicer than that in that he has not asked me to pitch in for rent. I don’t have many bills, but I’m still living paycheck to paycheck. With his help (as with the help of several friends before him), I actually have a roof over my head. He has even been kind enough to offer (and even ask) me to “raid his refrigerator”. Okay, I haven’t taking him up on this one. He’s kind enough to let me live here rent-free, I can’t imagine eating his food as well.

Today I was mentioning my seats to him, and how, on average, they’re actually perfect (one all the way up, one all the way back). I suggested that I knew how to fix them but needed a set of hex wrenches and a power drill. “Well, I have those,” he said, and started going through the closets to find the tools I needed. What’s more, he actually joined me. I could have gotten them myself, but he is much faster than I am, I must admit. Still though, with the power of my friend, I managed to get my seats out, adjusted and reinstalled.

Never underestimate the power of your friends. They have skills and resources that you might not be aware of. If there is one lesson I have learned from my situation, it’s the importance of actually reaching out, asking for help and accepting it.

Many thanks to my many friends who have helped me in oh so many ways. I owe you all everything!!!

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