Tales of a Golden Heart, Chapter 25: The Billings, Montana, Connection

–When you let go, it happens. __Spiritual maxim

Billings where? Though many of my connections were in Montana, including growing up, rodeo, formal education, and a couple of ex-wives, the Big Sky Country was seldom on my mind as the summer of 1986 rolled toward a close. Instead, back in San Diego, I began to wonder: Could some remaining inner blockages be identified? Some that could be cleared once and for all with the healing help of the Eck? The answer: A firm yes. A number of personality hangups remained obvious, tidbits left over from childhood and not yet quite released. Summarized, they boiled down to a need to control my environment and a problem with anger.

The control factor showed most strongly at work. If the office files were misplaced or mishandled or misrated or mislabeled or mistakenly entered on the computer, then I did the “human” thing and got frustrated. Others around me acknowledged my ability to organize and make sense out of a file–and a few secretly wished I’d lighten up. At home, my stepdaughter echoed that sentiment with some justification.

“Wah Z,” I spoke inwardly to the Mahanta, “Let’s see if we can get the control problem eliminated first. I know you’ll work on it with me if I do my part. Other than remember my spiritual exercises and keep trying to let other people handle their own responsibilities, what else can I do?”

“Go buy a new car.”

Well, I didn’t exactly hear a voice saying, “Go buy a new car.” What actually happened was: The old car started giving out and some other bills got paid off.

First stop: A large car dealer right down the street from our apartment. Old Thunder wheeled proudly into the lot. As I stepped out, a burly young salesman separated from a pack of several prowling the premises.

“Like to trade that in tonight?” He asked.

“Could be. Seriously looking, anyway.”

Terry quickly determined my preference: Small economy car, new but inexpensive in today’s meaning of that word. That pinned it down to one model. I didn’t like the basic version at all. It felt like a raw hunk of tin with poor body insulation and thinly padded seats. We tried another–same car, but sports model. A third again the money I had intended to pay. Red, with the GT sports package that included four stereo speakers, comfortable seats, a five speed transmission, and an overhead digital clock that actually worked. I’d never owned a red car before, let alone a red “sports” car. We drove around the block.

When I turned back into the lot, Terry expressed surprise. “Take it out on the freeway,” he urged.

“No need. If we can make a deal on this one, it’ll do fine.”

Though taken off guard, the man recovered quickly. He was, after all, a salesman in the presence of a buyer who had just said “Yes.” We adjourned to a bare-bones office, one of several filling the south wall in the bustling dealership’s main building. After half an hour of questions and answers and filling out papers, he left me alone and journeyed down the hall and around the corner to consult with Rick, the credit expert. He was gone a long time. When he returned, he did not look happy.

“Fred, I’m sorry, but we can’t do it. They just can’t do it with your credit history.”

“Wrong.” I wasn’t angry but felt surprisingly sure of myself that evening, confident that this deal would go through. “Like I explained to you, I don’t know why the records aren’t showing the proper credit history, but you can call the bank in Billings, Montana, and they will confirm my credit rating on the cars I had financed with them.” The only thing negative on my record was an aging bankruptcy. Several years of faithful car payments had followed that action, and with my current job doing well….

Poor Terry. Distinctly discomfited, he fidgeted for a moment or two. Then, unable to shake his customer’s certainty and quiet refusal to accept a “No,” he left to talk to his credit expert once more. Shortly thereafter, he returned with Rick in tow.

Rick and I liked each other immediately. He had no trouble at all when it came to understanding my backtrail–how I had come to be where I was in life at the moment, and why my credit should be acceptable once the banker clearly understood the man behind the application. He seemed like a good Soul to have on one’s side…and his father had originally come from Billings, Montana. In the end, he promised to do his very best to push the application through, although due to their heavy workload it might take a day or two. I believed him and felt even greater certainty that the red sports model was “my car.”

But it didn’t happen. The call didn’t come, and my calls to the dealership were not returned. After a few days had passed, I stopped by in person and was told they still didn’t have an answer. It sounded like the old stall-’em-till-they-go-away gimmick to me. Time to look elsewhere.

In truth, that looking had already begun. Hitting at least one dealership every evening after work, sometimes two, plus two or three on Saturday, I had eliminated several makes and models from consideration altogether. By the time a week had passed, three financing firms had eliminated me in return. Poor credit risk. Even the bank owned by my boss told me to go take a hike. At last, I told my lady, “Looks like maybe I misread what the Eck was saying. I’ve learned a good deal from all this–surely do know the current market in new cars now–but maybe that’s not what I need. Believe I’ll forget it. Kind of wanted to fix up Old Thunder anyway; won’t really cost me any more money to do that. Just the downtime while it’s in the shop, and of course hoping the major parts like engine and transmission hold together for a while yet.”

With a sense of relief, I abandoned car hunting altogether. Several of the dealerships had really insulted Old Thunder, the worst being the one that offered only $200 for trade-in and stated in no uncertain terms that the faithful Ford Granada would be taken promptly to Mexico and “sold as iron.” Sort of like making glue and dog food from a one-time top cow horse too aged to cut the mustard in the mountains any more. Now we could still be together, faithful companions to the end. Or at least until a good used car deal turned up.

The car hunt had eaten up nearly all of my spare time for quite a number of days. It felt good to be able to get some other things done. Having let go, I realized I wasn’t trying to control people as much, either. At work, my performance level improved–most of the time–while those around me felt less pressure. With a smile and a silent Thank You to the Mahanta, I understood that the entire exercise had somehow helped me to release that need to control things not mine to control.

One Friday night after work, my lady and her daughter both greeted me at the door. “There’s a message for you on the answering machine.”

“Okay.”

“You might want to listen to it right away.” My sweetheart’s sparkling smile implied something special, so….

“This is Terry from the dealership,” the recording advised, “calling for Fred Baker. Fred, your loan’s been approved. Come on down and pick up your car.”

“You’re kidding!” Suddenly, keeping Old Thunder didn’t seem important at all.

“You got it, honey.” My darling beamed.

Her daughter wanted to know one thing. “When are you going to pick it up?”

It still took nearly three hours at the dealership to process the paperwork. That dealership is a busy place. But the little red new machine sat squarely in the middle of the showroom, waiting patiently. Finally, we went home together around 10:00 p.m. What a car. Little GT had options I didn’t even recognize until days later. It ran like a dream, got solid gas mileage, and I loved it. Most of all, I loved knowing I had not misunderstood my inner guidance. But there was one more surprise yet in store.

Rick had pushed to get my credit application approved, but he hadn’t worked alone. A hardworking young lady named Karen actually did the financing work. The first time she submitted the application, it came back rejected. But, after Rick clarified the true facts, she tried again, in the end convincing the loan underwriter I really would make the payments on time. Of course, the bank in Billings had also confirmed my good standing during my years with them.

Add to that the “coincidence” when Karen mentioned her own Billings, Montana, connection: She had a sister living there. This meant my credit and transportation situations had been healed simultaneously by key players including a Billings banker and two finance people in San Diego with Billings connections. It happened within mere days after I could do no more and the Eck took over through these beautiful Souls willing to go the extra mile and then some.

It’s amazing how many people are willing to help–once we’re willing to let them do their jobs. And that’s just the folks with connections reaching to Billings, Montana.

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For our readers who may not recognize terms like Eck, Eckankar, or Mahanta, the definitions can be found in A Glossary of Eck Terms at Eckankar.org.