Hapless is Happy  
Hapless is Happy

There are several people in the Bible who received new names. Usually, their new name was associated with a major life change. Perhaps the most famous name change was from Saul to Paul. Saul persecuted and killed Christians relentlessly. His dramatic conversion experience led to his new name, Paul. Paul, also relentless, went on to be perhaps the most influencial person throughout history in the spread of Christianity.

If you read the story on June 3, 2005 in the Daily Journal section of this website, you know that the name of my camper van is Hapless. Aptly named, it was in sad shape when we bought it. Bob prayed for God to show us everything that was wrong with Hapless before I left town. After that prayer, one thing after another broke. Family and friends fretted over my leaving town in Hapless. Through it all, Bob reminded us about his prayer and handled each new thing that broke.

Well, Hapless has earned a new name. He is running quite well on this trip. In fact, by this time on the last journey, the Suburban had already been in the shop several times. To date, he hasn’t even needed oil. Yes, he is quite thirsty and drinks a lot of gasoline but we knew that when we bought him.

I’m not sure why Hapless is behaving. He has plenty of reason to want to rebel against me. I’ve let him get filthy. I’ve pushed him harder than he has ever been pushed. I’ve left him in the hot sun, pouring rain, and mud. Perhaps the worst thing I did to him was dent his side and remove his running board.

It was pouring rain, and I got a little too close to a low metal post at a service station. There was line at the pump and I was impatient. I decided to make a u-turn to the other side. The crunching was awful. I got out finding the side of Hapless dented and the entire running board on the ground. I tried to back Hapless up, only to hear another sickening crunch. Belle, thinking I needed a warning to stop, began barking ferociously.

A helpful man came over. “May I move your van for you? I used to own this vehicle and I loved driving it.” I was pretty rattled and grateful for the help. “Get in the car with me,” he suggested. “I’m afraid your dog will bite me, if I get in alone.”

“She doesn’t bite,” I offered, not really wanting to get in a car with a stranger, no matter how cute he was. “She’s just upset about the accident.”

“Dogs are unpredictable. I’d feel better if you would get in,” he insisted

I thought to myself, Do car-jackers or kidnappers actually offer to help in front of witnesses? Surely they don’t dress this nicely. I got in and he moved the car to a curb without anymore crunches. He stepped out of the car and helped me put the running board inside Hapless. Belle wasn’t convinced a 5 foot running board belonged inside but we put it in anyway. I thanked the man and he left.

I was embarrassed to call Bob and ask what to do, so I decided to have lunch. I needed to be clear headed for that conversation. I stalled as long as I could, and finally called him. With Bob, it’s best to get bad news over with quickly and give as many details as possible. “Bob, I turned too close to a metal post at the gas station, and it ripped the running board off of Hapless. I’ve put the running board in the car. I want to come home.”

“Are you OK?” A great response! I assured him I was fine.

“Did you do any damage to the service station?” I hadn’t thought of that. I looked back at the post to see the mark I left along side several others. Apparently I wasn’t the first to do this. An attendant had seen it and hadn’t come out to check on things or help. I decided I hadn’t done anymore harm than anyone else.

“You don’t need to come home,” Bob assured me. He got online and found Rick’s Auto Body in Springfield, Massachusetts. They were wonderful. The only problem was how complicated it was finding them, especially in the rain. Bob set up a three-way call with himself, a man from Rick’s Auto Body, and me. This kind man stayed on the phone with me until I was close enough to the shop to find it by myself. When I got to a particularly dangerous intersection, this man said gently, “We need to stop talking now while you make that left turn. Be careful because you don’t have the right of way.”

I thought to myself, If he doesn’t stop being so nice to me, I’m going to cry.This gentle man walked me through every confusing intersection and landmark.

I arrived at Rick’s Auto Body to be greeted by the Blues Brothers, sitting in the lobby. To see pictures of the most interesting auto body shop I’ve ever been in, go to the Photo Gallery and look under “Massachusetts - Springfield – Ricks Auto Body.”

Another man went outside in the rain and looked at my car. “I hate to tell you this but this running board can’t be put back on. The fiberglass is broken and the braces won’t give it enough support. This most likely is a custom running board so it will take time to get one made. I should also warn you that they come in pairs so you’re going to have to replace both of them. They are expensive. The car is drivable so if I were you, I’d just buy a stepping stool and go on your way.”

“What about those braces? Can you take them off?”

“I could but your holding tanks are attached to them. I don’t think you want me to.”

Good point. “Do you see any damage to the holding tanks?" I fretted. He kneeled down and looked. Thankfully, they were fine. “What do I do with the running board?” I asked.

“I’ll take it and throw it away for you.”

I tried to pay him but he refused. I insisted. “It’s raining and you had to come out here.”

“I’m not a sugar cube. I don’t melt,” he laughed as he waved goodbye and walked off.

I went back inside to find the man who talked me through the journey to the shop. The sweet young woman at the counter didn’t even complain about the drips I left all over the floor. She found the man I was looking for. “Thank you so much,” I told him. “I can tell that you’re used to talking to people who have just had an accident and are shook up.”

He laughed. “No, I just have a wife and daughters.” I guess I deserved that.

The good thing that has come out of the accident is that when I back up, Belle runs to the back window and watches. If I get too close to anything, she barks. If I’m turning right, she hops in the back right passenger seat and does the same thing. I’m getting much better at maneuvering Hapless, and he and Belle are grateful.

So you see, Hapless has plenty of reason to be unhappy, and yet he is happy. Overall, he is being a great sport and behaving quite well. I think he actually likes being a part of the Pocket Full of Quarters mission. He even seems to be enjoying the mountains.

Hapless no longer deserves the name Hapless. As of today, Hapless is Happy.


Cheryle M. Touchton is the Director of Pocket Full of Change Ministries. For more information or to schedule a speaker for an event, go to www.pocketfullofchange.org or call Cheryle Touchton at 904-614-3585.

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