Thank you to my Ford Focus.
Growing up, my family had always had foreign cars including my first two which were both a Mazda 626.
By the time I moved to Farmington Minnesota in 2005 my Mazda had over 200,000 miles on it and had all kinds of issues.
One day two people from Apple Autos Ford Dealership showed up at my door selling a coupon card. For $X.XX you would get so many oil changes along with discounts on car repairs. I was new to the area and did not have any place to take my car for those kinds of things to I purchased one.
It wasn’t long before I had to take my car in for a problem. My finances were real tight and I was terrified how much this repair would cost me. I took my coupon card to the Apple Auto Ford Dealership and crossed my fingers and toes.
The news was bad and was going to to cost me a couple thousand. I was crushed. I wasn’t in a place yet where I could buy a new car and dumping a couple thousand into it was a tough pill to swallow.
The guy working on my car pulled me aside and asked me if I had any plans to buy a car. I told him my goal was to buy a car within a year but was not ready to now. What came next I will never forget.
The guy told me that if I was serious about getting a new car within a year he could make some welds that would hold off the needed repairs. He explained that this was a temporary fix that would only hold up a year and possibly less but it would buy me time. Even more amazing was that all he would charge me for was the labor it took to make the welds. What would have been a couple thousand in repairs ended up being around $50. All he asked is that I consider buying my next car from Apple Auto Dealerships.
Had it not been for the Card I bought I never would have taken my Mazda to a Ford Dealership for repairs.
Within a year I started looking to buy a new car and as promised I kept my focus to the two Apple Auto dealerships. I finally found a midlife crisis car that I was interested in at the other dealership (Shakopee Mn) a few miles away. When I got there I wasn’t impressed with that car but I ended up buying a Ford Focus.
Unfortunately I started noticing problems right away. The Car had several different issues including a crack windshield washer container. I reached out to the Shakopee Dealership and got no answer. Repeated attempts by phone and email went unanswered. When I called I would get the run around and told someone would get back to me. They never did.
Frustrated, I went to the Apple Auto Dealership that saved me with the weld. Yes, looking back that is where I should have gone from day one but they were under the same umbrella and the first car I wanted was at the other dealership.
The GM met with me and asked for a day or two to look into it. Turns out the other dealership was ignoring me and that pissed off the GM of the Apple Valley Dealership.
He was very apologetic and asked me if there was any accessories I wished I could have gotten with my lemmon. I mentioned I had always wanted a sun roof.
He found a car with a sunroof but was an upgrade from the car I had gotten. I explained I could not afford the difference to go from my car to the upgrade which had several extra features. The GM explained I wasn’t going to pay the difference. Instead he was going to send the other dealership a bill for the difference in hopes that it would teach them a lesson.
With that I got my new car.
One of the first things I did was set off on my first Homeless awareness 48 state road trips to help homeless. The story got national attention as well as local attention.
Little did I know that a few months later my life would come crashing down as a work injury would end up costing me everything. I had bought my car in late 2008 and by 2009 I suddenly found myself homeless and living out of my Ford Focus. Looking back I wonder what would have happened had the guy done the repairs which would have cost me thousands. Would I have found myself homeless in my old junker?
My homeless story was front page news locally.
Instead I found myself homeless in a relatively new car. The Cars heater was quick to heat up which was good because during the first two weeks of my homelessness it was -23 degrees.
My car saved my life by protecting me. It kept me warm on the cold nights and protected.
By the second year homeless I was going stir crazy. People don’t realize how hard it is to pull out of the downward fall when you find yourself homeless. I set off on another 48 state roadtrip to help other homeless.
It was a bold, some would say crazy thing to do as someone living in their car. But I had faith in my car and we pulled it off without a hitch.
During the three years I was homeless I only fell behind on my car payment for a brief time and thanks to the kindness of friends and strangers. My car was all I had left having lost everything and I made every sacrifice to make sure I made my car payments.
Finally, the day that I never thought would arive — I paid off my car.
It has been a long journey and I couldn’t have done it without my Ford Focus. I can’t help but wonder how things would have turned out differently had I not answered the door. To have a reliable car while homeless can make or break you. Not only that, my Ford allowed me to help other homeless across the US.
While I doubt I will be able to get another car as nice for a long time I am starting to explore options. My car is now over 7 years old and has been my home almost as long as I have been housed. Bigger repairs are just around the corner as the car gets older.
Thankfully, my Ford Focus did what it needed to do and that kept me alive.
Who knows where my next journey will take me as I continue to rebuild.