In last week's Garage of Horror, we shared the epic tale of a man whose life was trashed by a crappy Saturn. In response, you, the Jalopnik commentariat, got off your collective tuckus and helped him out. You guys rock!
This is what happens when the Internet feels your pain. I won't spoil the surprise, but suffice it to say that our Saturn owner's story (his commenter handle is Desu-San-Desu, but his real name is Chris) now has a happy ending. Also, he took in last weekend's New England Forest Rally and ran into an old friend of ours.
The following text popped into my inbox Sunday morning. Like the original story, it's a bit long, but it's more than worth a read:
Desu-San-Desu here. First off, fair warning: I just got back from the New England Forest Rally and I'm exhausted, so please excuse any typos that may result.al I just wanted to give you an update on my situation and some good news. Ever since you posted my horror story about the Saturn, things have gone from "alright" to "excellent".
By the time you posted the story, my girlfriend had gotten a good job in Concord, New Hampshire and her own apartment. Her place is on the town's motor mile and within walking distance of downtown, so we thought that my chances of finding a job might be better there than in rural South Carolina at my dad's place. The three of us (her, my dad, and myself) pooled our resources and flew me up to Concord and shipped all my belongings up.
The day you posted the story, most of my things had arrived, with the exception of my single change of dress clothes, so I hadn't start walking the block to apply for jobs yet. Which was okay, since I spent nearly that entire day fielding comments and messages from the thread. I was astounded by the amount of support that was expressed in the comments, and it touched me deeply.
More surprising though, was the fact that, within twenty-four hours, I began receiving messages and emails from people offering to send me a few bucks, and even an offer to help out with a LeMons crew. Now, the LeMons thing is just awesome, but as for the donations, my initial reaction as the stubborn, prideful guy that I am was to politely refuse offers. But as stubborn as I may be, I'm not stupid enough to turn down help when I am obviously in need of all the help I can get.
Here's where it gets crazy. One fellow, who is apparently quite comfortable financially, stated that he was raised to "know that when you have a lot you need to share because someday it will be reversed," which I can certainly respect. So this individual gives me his contact info so I know he's not some scam artist or random stalker. Once we had everything verified and confirmed and I gave him my address, he told me he was sending me a check.
There are still chin hairs on the carpet from where my jaw hit the floor. I told him that I never expected him to send such a huge amount and that I honestly don't know how I could ever repay him. Somehow just buying a dude a beer sometime doesn't quite seem to cover it, you know? But he was sure of the amount and told me the check will clear.
With his check added to the pot, I received around $600 in donations over the course of three days. When you posted the story, I just expected a couple comments from a person or two and maybe a sympathetic email. Instead, I'm still reeling from how amazingly generous and supportive the Jalopnik community has been.
Now, let me explain where this goes from crazy to flat-out unbelievable. After this person sends me the check for $500, the boxes with the rest of my belongings arrived, so I donned my faded, barestitched khakis and a blue dress shirt and some black shoes and starting walking the motor mile applying at every business with an "OPEN" sign in the window.
Only three blocks down the road and maybe six applications later, I walk into a Nissan dealership that had a "Now Hiring Sales Staff" sign on their lot, and I ask about the sign. The owner and corporate sales trainer are at the front desk as I walk up. They shake my hand and we talk for a few minutes before they hand me an application. I fill out the application and, less than a minute after turning it in, I'm in an office talking to the training coordinator from corporate. Fifteen minutes later, I'm interviewing with the owner of the lot.
Now, I want to make it clear: I have never sold cars before. I have no previous experience doing so. My only two previous jobs are at Wal-Mart and a computer lab when I was in college. I'm just a guy who loves cars and is good with people. Apparently the guys at the dealership saw some potential and decided to give me a shot.
Not particularly special, right? Good news, but nothing worth writing to... er... virtual home about. Well, as I'm talking to the training coordinator, he lets me know that the training for the potential sales staff had actually started the day before, so I was a day and a half late, but I seemed like a "real sharp kid" and that they'd let me go ahead and sit right down in the class and pick up the material behind schedule.
Of course, I say yes. It's at this point he explains to me that the training program requires a deposit to cover the cost of the training materials if I make it through the initial class. The price of the deposit?
Yeah. Exactly. Now, $300 of that is refunded back to me within 90 days once I finish a probationary period. So I tell him I miraculously just so happen to have that exact amount and I hop straight into the class and do my best to make up for the day and a half of instruction that I'd missed. All told, I was only there for nine hours of the 20-hour class before I had to take the certification test.
I passed and got the job. I start real-world sales training on Monday and, once all is said and done, I'll be making $8 an hour plus 20% commission on anything I sell. And I have just enough money left over from Jalopnik donations to hit up Goodwill to pick up a new belt and a "new" work wardrobe (the dealership has a pretty snazzy dress code). Since the dealership is only a few blocks away, my lack of a car isn't a major issue. I can take my time saving up for a NEW car, one with a full factory warranty.
None of which would have been possible if it weren't for the entire Jalopnik community being so freakin' awesome. I don't know how I can even begin to express my gratitude, but I hope this email will help.
Oh, and it's not just through donations and support that your posting of my ordeal has helped me. Earlier today, my girlfriend and I attended the second day of the New England Forest Rally, watching the Fish Pond Road Stage. After the stage ends, we're walking back to the parking area when we stumble upon a clearing where I recognize a certain black and silver BMW 318i — one that had driven by earlier with a severely banged up front left wheel and quarter panel, with none other than Bill Caswell at the always-oppo-locked wheel.
(Note: Caswell crashed out of NEFR. He and his co-driver are OK, though the car is a bit bent. —Ed.)
So we walk into the clearing to find Bill talking to a few other spectators and some of the volunteers beside his sorely injured ride. He seems to be in really good spirits and is joking around with everyone, and I walk up, just hoping for an autograph (I'd not been able to make it for the meet and greet) and I tell him how I've been following his career since the expose on Jalopnik and how I'm friends with him on Facebook. I tell him my name (it's Chris) and then I mention that I'm Desu-San-Desu from Jalopnik and that I was the guy from "My Crappy Saturn Ruined My Li-"
"OH! THAT WAS YOU!?" simultaneously erupts from Bill and about five of the other guys standing there. Once the initial "No way!" factor was absorbed, we all spent a good 20 minutes just talking about my story and Bill's Jalopnik WRC story and his thoughts on my intention of attending rally school and overall just generally shooting the shit. It was a really cool experience; I got a couple pictures with Bill and I showed him the video (which I've attached to this email along with a shot of the two of us) I got of him earlier going past me through the downhill section of the stage before his DNF. I'm not sure who was more excited seeing him fly sideways through that corner — him or the fans. Maybe that's just an accurate indicator of how awesome a guy Bill is.
All in all, it was an absolutely immaculate end to a very surreal week.
And I did indeed get that autograph.
—Chris H., a.k.a. Desu-San-Desu
Excellent. Proof that no Jalop is an island. Readers, you've warmed the cockles of our cold, cold editorial hearts. Chris, good luck on your first day of work — we wish you nothing but the best. And Bill, we're glad you're OK.
Life, for lack of a better phrase, is good.
Photo Credits: Top: Project Hitchhiker; video and Chris/Caswell shot: Chris H.