Monday, February 16, 2009

Just an old hippy van

Back in the late seventies, I was living in San Diego. We sold everything that we owed and put the rest of it into an old 62 Econoline Van that we owned and moved up to Oregon while we waited for all the papers to go through to move to Australia. My father in law was hurting with a bad back and I was going over to help him with his business to get him back on his feet.

I loved that old van. I paid, I believe, around $800 for it. It was a window van with curtains all around and mag wheels. I purchased it from an owner in San Diego who had claimed that he had rebuilt the engine recently. It ran great and I had no reason to disbelieve his claim although I did not ask for papers.

Judy and I drove the van up from San Diego and settled here in Bend for a while scheduled to leave at the end of the year sometime. The van's clutch started to slip and my brother helped me replace it. That was the only repair that I needed to do while owning it. Knowing that I was leaving shortly, we put the van up for sale in Eugene. After all, it was a hippy van and we felt that would be the best market for it. I felt quite confident in the van that still ran well and had good tread on it's tires. I was sad to see it go when it was sold to a young college student in Eugene for around $500 or so. We then used a car that my brother owned until leaving.

A month or so later, I ran into that young lady in the Valley River Center over in Eugene. Excited to see her, I stopped her and asked her how my treasured old van was doing. With a shocked look on her face, she started to cry. "It broke down.", she said. "And I am suing you.". I was shocked. She said that she had a friend working on it. I told her that I felt horrible about the situation and asked her to stay in touch with me and I would certainly make it right.

A few weeks later, my reply came in the mail in the form of a letter. I was being sued for over a thousand dollars and to top it off, she would be able to keep the van. She had stated that I had guaranteed that the engine had been rebuilt and she had proof that it had never been done. I was mortified. I went to see a local lawyer and sat across the desk from him. I remember him telling me that she had as much chance in a court of law as I did. "It will be up to the judge.", he said, "And if she good crier, I don't like your chances.". He then suggested to me that I do nothing as I was moving away anyway.

A week before leaving, she called me. She had driven the van again and it had gotten worse. I asked her why she had driven it and she said because her other vehicle (a expensive sports car) had broken down and she needed transportation. "We need to talk.", she said, "I want to settle out of court.". I told her that I would be in town the next week and that I would meet her if she wanted. Although I did not look forward to talking to her, I was willing to tell her that I was sorry. She showed up but after I was already gone. The spoiled little rich girl was extremely angry and I must admit that I had little empathy for her. I just left and moved to Australia.

But that is a much different story than the one that I read in the Bulletin today. Jody Denton of Miranda fame moved to Australia, leaving a huge debt behind. The list was staggering. Some of the debtors had been looked in the eye and told that they would be paid but were not. Some were friends and now are not...people who trusted him. And the funny thing to me is that the article was written by a staff writer from the bulletin and not from Jody's (pen name...real name is Jet Olen?) buddy and the Bulletin's food guru, John Gothberg Anderson. I checked Mr. Gothberg Anderson's blog and saw nothing there either other than stellar praise for the former Bend Oregon Restaurant mogul. We are not talking $500 (which still bothers me by the way) but millions. And those millions were from people he knew and was trusted by.

Who else will be hurt by his mistakes? All of us other businesses who will have to pay higher prices to the various other banks and assisting businesses who were hurt by Jody's mistakes. I know that Jody did allot of good things for the community and want to honor him for that but I think it is of equal importance of the hurt that he caused by the other and saddened by it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i worked at deep and had my last check bounce 2 weeks after it had been the bulletin's article at his bankruptcy hearing, denton claimed that all his payroll debts had been payed...well, i had to go through the states Wage Security Fund in order to receive the $600 owed to, two months later, i finally have been payed, but not by denton...a number of my fellow employees had their checks bounce also