Do chal­lenges find you?

The Community Connection - - OPINION - By Jeff Hall Jeff Hall, of Honey Brook, con­trib­utes col­umns to Tri County Record. Colum­nist

I don’t know about you, but on oc­ca­sion I find chal­lenges seem to have a way of find­ing me. Two ex­am­ples are when my mother who, was wid­owed over two decades, used to call me at work and say, “Jeff, I think I have a prob­lem.”

When I asked her what she thought her prob­lem was (in the first in­stance) she told me that a stranger ap­peared at her door and wanted to come into the house and look at her an­tique fur­ni­ture, which con­sisted of a very few pieces – no mu­seum. She had of­fered to sell the fur­ni­ture to the per­son. This I set­tled with one phone call to the man telling him to for­get about mak­ing the pur- chase.

Another time she called me on a win­ter af­ter­noon to tell me she thought maybe some­thing was wrong with her heater. When I asked her why, she told me she had her win­ter coat on in the house and she was still cold. I in­structed her to look at the ther­mo­stat and let me know what the tem­per­a­ture read. I did get a bit con­cerned when she said that it was 45 de­grees. Ob­vi­ously, this took a bit more time to find a place for her to stay at a neigh­bor’s. I phoned the heater re­pair com­pany and left from work to as­sure the heat was re­turned to nor­mal.

The pre­ced­ing two ac­tions were a piece of cake com­pared to the third prob­lem. It’s great to help a friend. How­ever, when one has worked in Risk Man­age­ment for over 20 years, as I had all sorts of ques­tions pop into one’s mind. Friends called me to say they had ad­ver­tised their 10 year old car that had been driven over 250,000 miles for sale on the In­ter­net. The per­son who pur­chased the car flew from Texas to Penn­syl­va­nia and was go­ing to drive it from Penn­syl­va­nia back to Texas (a dis­tance of 1,250 miles, which the buyer said would take him about 20 hours). My friends wanted me to be present to ver­ify the trans­ac­tion.

This would be a good school es­say as­sign­ment to ask the stu­dents what ques­tions they would have about the trans­ac­tion. Why would the buyer go that dis­tance to buy such a car? Was the ask­ing price too low? Why would the buyer go to the ex­pense and time to fly to Philadelphia and drive the car back home? The buyer was dropped off at the sellers’ house by another man that left as soon as the buyer was en­gaged with the sellers. Why? How did the sellers know that this was not a scam? Did the sellers have any fear of a rob­bery, kid­nap­ping or phys­i­cal harm be­ing done to them? Why did the buyer pay for the car and sign the doc­u­ments of own­er­ship be­fore he looked at the mo­tor, the in­te­rior or started the car? Why couldn’t the buyer find an equiv­a­lent car closer to home? Was the buyer go­ing to pay in coun­ter­feit money? Was the car go­ing to be used for il­licit pur­poses? Decades ago I worked for a boss who was ap­proach­ing re­tire­ment by the name of Harold. When he had no idea what the an­swer to a ques­tion was he would say: “It’s B-E-Y-O-N-D me.) I would echo Harold’s ex­clam­a­tory re­mark.

When first asked by the sellers to wit­ness the trans­ac­tion, I was more than will­ing to help. How­ever, as I found out more about the de­tails of the pur­chase, I tried, with­out suc­cess, to per­suade them to con­duct their busi­ness some­where other than their drive­way. I did fol­low-up with two friends as well as a po­lice­man. The buyer ar­rived on time and I was at my friends’ house. Be­cause of my calls to my friends, they both un­ex­pect­edly showed up. Now, at least it was five of us ver­sus one if the buyer wanted to pull any shenani­gans. My two friends were highly ed­u­cated in safety pro­ce­dures. They knew to post a man at the back of the house in case there was an ac­com­plice with the buyer. They were both also quite pre­pared to use force should there be any prob­lems. One of my friends even took photos of both the buyer and the li­cense plate num­ber of the car that brought him with his cell phone with­out the buyer know­ing it.

It seems the sale did go off with­out a hitch. I guess there is some truth in the say­ing, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Thanks, friends!

Note: My wife and I are fans of the old TV show Walker Texas Ranger which ran for 1993 – 2001, with it still be­ing shown as re­runs. Walker (Chuck Nor­ris) and his buddy Ranger fight hand to hand via mar­tial arts against seem­ingly in­sur­mount­able odds and al­ways win. Be­fore go­ing to the seller’s I prac­ticed a cou­ple of Walker’s fa­vorite kicks to get warmed up. I made a bit of a grunt when I did it and my wife thought I hurt my­self. Although not ad­mit­ting it to her, it scared me a bit, too!

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