One day during the last part of August, 2003, after several months of searching the ads, Stan noticed an ad on the Great Vehicles website for a 2002 Dolphin LX. (Note that at some time in the future that link will become inactive. Note as well that the same ad appeared on several other classified websites.) It was listed by The Motorhome Brokers in Maryland and the ad said that if we wanted more information we should contact them. We did.
Harlan Ward of The Motorhome Brokers responded within a day, sending us no less than five separate E-mail postings with photographs as attachments. Those are the ones that you can view in the Mug Shots. In addition Harlan stated that if we had any additional questions he'd be happy to supply us with contact information for the owner of the motorhome. We immediately replied that we would very much like to speak with the owner. Within 24 hours we had the address and phone number for "Mrs. Smith" and were placing a call to her.
Mrs. Smith turned out to be a charming Texas lady living in the Austin area. Her husband had passed away earlier in the year and she was now saddled with the Dolphin that she couldn't drive and the payments that she could no longer afford. It broke her heart, but she had to sell the motorhome.
We explained Marguerite's handicap and asked Mrs. Smith to make a few measurements for us. We needed to know the exact width of the passageway and the length and width of the bed. The next day she called us back to announce that with the main slide closed there was a thirteen inch bottleneck between the galley's front corner and the front corner of the booth, but with the slide open there was more than thirty-two inches of clearance, plenty of room for a walker to pass. That merely meant that when we were on the road we'd have to stop in places where we could open the slide a little for "pit stops."
The passageway to the rear posed a more serious problem, however. There was a sliding, pocket door there. Without the sliding door the passageway's width would easily allow a walker to pass. However, the sliding door protruded several inches and there was only about 22½ inches clearance. The walker could pass but there was almost no margin for error. If we removed the door there would be little privacy in the bath when we had guests. If we left the door in place it would be a constant obstacle for Marguerite to get past and we could easily imagine the door eventually looking like it had only barely survived World War III by virtue of many entanglements with the walker. Clearly, if we purchased the Dolphin we would have to remodel that passageway, and the only sure way to know if it were even possible and how it could be accomplished was to go to Austin to see it in person.
The really good news was that the bed measured out to a full 60 by 80 inches. National RV hadn't cheated on its queen-sized bed after all! As we had suspected, the floorplan was incorrect.
Marguerite and Stan held a very intense, fifteen minute discussion and then Stan called Mrs. Smith back to say that we wanted the motorhome. We agreed on a final price and the amount of a deposit over the phone. The problem was that she had at least one other potential buyer and didn't know how to decide which one to sell the motorhome to. After some thought she decided that the first one to deliver a deposit cheque would get the coach. Fair enough!
This last conversation took place in late afternoon on August 29, 2003, the Friday of the Labour Day long weekend. There was no way that we could get a certified cheque or money order and hand it to a Canadian courier in time for delivery before about the next Thursday. That would almost surely be too late. Somebody was bound to "scoop" us on this deal. What to do?
Here's what thinking out of the box is all about! Stan has a sister living in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Stan called her and asked for a huge favour. She was to go to a local grocery store, purchase a money order, go to a United Parcel Service outlet and arrange to have it couriered to Mrs. Smith from right there in Texas as soon as humanly possible.
By George, if she didn't carry it off with panache! Thank you ever so much, Betty! The cheque arrived at Mrs. Smith's home at about 7:30 the next Wednesday morning and it was the first to arrive. WE GOT THE MOTORHOME! (And yes, we did pay Betty back!)
Getting the money was going to take time. Mortgages (our source) are notorious for plodding along like nobody's life ever depended on them. Lending institutions do that specifically to make sure that they have plenty of time to do their work and make no mistakes in the process. While we'd started the process during the first week of September we had no good reason to believe that the mortgage would be complete by the end of the month and every reason to believe that it might take longer.
The major problem here was that Mrs. Smith didn't want to keep the motorhome past October 1 because she didn't want to have to make another hefty payment on it. Therefore, she either needed the sale to go through in time for her to avoid that last payment, or she'd have to sell it to someone else, or we'd have to make the October payment for her. In effect, we'd lose approximately another thousand dollars (actually about $1350 in Canadian dollars!) in the form of a payment on someone else's motorhome if we were late. Or, we'd lose the motorhome to someone else, any peripheral expenditures we'd made in the process would be wasted and we'd probably have to forfeit our deposit.
We assured Mrs. Smith that we'd have the money in time or we 'd take care of the payment. (What? Are we crazy? Probably. Or at least extremely gullible!)
So now we thought we'd found our dream retirement home. We'd talked Stan's sister into fronting us for the US $1,000 deposit and had the money sent to a disembodied voice on the phone. We hadn't met the lady who was selling it, we hadn't seen the motorhome in person, we couldn't even vouch that it existed, and we still had some reservations about a few of its construction details. On top of all that, we'd promised the lady that we'd make an extra payment for her if we took too long to get the mortgage to pay for the motorhome. Were we sticking our necks out, or what? "What the hay!" It's only money!
For the rest of the story you should return to the Game Plan and continue reading.
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Copyright © 2003, Stanley A. Schultz and Marguerite J. Schultz.
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This page was initially created on 2003-November-04.
The last revision occurred on 2005-December-04.