One of the challenges we all face when we go on vacation is finding a farmsitter, especially one which doesn't charge an arm and leg.
An old Army buddy of my husband's, we'll call him Leo, volunteered to farm sit for us. Leo had gotten himself in a bit of trouble a few years ago in a drunken bar fight. As a result, he'd spent a few years in jail. After he'd been released, Leo's aunt and uncle had taken him in. He'd really turned himself around in the year he'd lived with them. He'd stopped drinking, was working hard to get his life back on track, was even teaching Sunday school at the church where his uncle was the reverend.
Off and on, Leo would do work for us on the farm, stuff we just didn't have time to do. This visit, we had a list of chores for him. Because the truck his uncle had given him was broken down, my hubbie picked him up at a bus stop near hubby's work.
As we were leaving for our trip, Leo mentioned that he'd like to wash my truck, which sorely needed it. Hubbie showed her where the keys were so he could move the truck over by the barn, nearer the hose. I asked Leo if he would be OK out here on the farm for 4 days without any means of transportation. He assured me he had plenty to keep him busy. I gave him our neighbor's number in case he needed something.
Fast forward to Sunday evening about 5 pm. We're having a great time with the kids. We've gone whale watching and seen two pods of whales, attended the piano/organ concert at Rosario, had some incredible meals, hiked to Mt. Constitution's lookout, essentially hit all the tourist spots.
My cell rings. It's our neighbors (my former daughter-in-law and her new husband, both of whom we're very close to) wondering if we gave Leo permission to drive our truck. It appears as soon as we left on Friday he headed out and didn't come back until after midnight. Saturday, same story. Now it's Sunday, and he's been gone since early morning. They're concerned about our animals and have gone up to feed them.
Hubbie immediately calls Leo on his cell and reaches him. Leo claims he didn't realize he wasn't supposed to drive the truck but says he's on his way up our driveway as he speaks. We don't buy his story. I call our neighbors a half hour later. No sign of Leo. I reach him on my cell. Again, he answers, this time he claims he's only 5 minutes from our home. I tell him in no uncertain terms to get the truck home and not to drive it again.
We go to dinner, but Leo has effectively ruined our evening as we worry he's fallen off the wagon and imagine all sorts of horrible scenarios. We try to call and text Leo several more times, but his phone is now turned off. The last time we talk to our neighbors that evening is about 11 pm. No sign of Leo or our truck.
Our neighbor was going to take the truck in to be serviced first thing Monday morning. He calls us at 7 am (we are already at the ferry landing waiting for the next ferry) to inform us the truck and Leo are nowhere to be found. Leo has now left our animals without care for over 24 hours (though our neighbors are taking care of them).
As we drive the 2.5 hours home, I'm getting more and more frantic. I check my iPhone for possible serious accidents within the last 24 hours. Thank God, there's been none involving a green Chevy pickup truck. So at least, I know Leo hasn't wrecked on I-5 and injured innocent people. We can't get any information from the State Patrol on our truck's whereabouts because I don't know the license number. Lesson #1, always have your license numbers stored somewhere easily accessible.
We're calling everyone we can think of who might know Leo. Via some sleuthing on Facebook, I find out the name of the aunt and uncle he lives with and obtain their phone number, again thanks to my iPhone. They haven't seen him either but are extremely upset that he'd betray our trust like this. After several calls, they haven't located him either. But they do know his brother saw him late Sunday night in a bar in Tacoma (about 45 minutes from our house).
Now, let me pause to say that this truck is my baby. I bought it brand new in 2002. It's my dream truck, a fully loaded 3/4-ton, heavy duty, Duramax diesel with a towing package, leather heated seats, the works. And it's paid for. Since we're all horse people, you know how expensive a truck like this is and how hard it will be to replace it.
As soon as we get home and armed with the truck's title and other info, we drive to the local sheriff's office. They're closed, but a deputy is walking into the building and agrees to take our information. After hubbie and him bond over having both been Army Rangers out of Fort Lewis, we head home.
By the time we arrive home, the deputy has left us a voicemail. He's located our truck. A towing company has it in impound at a nearby towing yard about ten minutes from our place. It appears Leo was picked with a DUI and the truck impounded.
We immediately go the impound yard, which actually isn't open on Labor Day, but a tow truck driver happens to be there. We pay the impound fee, but the truck won't start. It appears Leo has put over 300 miles on my truck and run it out of diesel. Back we go to our house for a diesel can. Still the truck won't start. We find a mechanic nearby, again not working on Labor Day, but in his shop repairing his own car. He agrees to start our truck for us.
Finally, we are on the road, out a few hundred dollars, but no other harm done, unless you count my husband's immense disappointment in Leo. But lesson 2 is trust your instincts and don't be so willing to give your trust to someone who hasn't earned it.
Well, Leo finally surfaces a week later in a VA hospital in Seattle. We don't really know when he went into the hospital, but we do know that he ran the truck out of fuel about 6 miles from our house and was sleeping in it. The State Patrol picked him up at 6:30 on Monday morning and booked him on possession of a vehicle while intoxicated and--get this--driving without a license. They dropped him off somewhere in Olympia and supposedly another friend took him to the hospital later that day as he isn't feeling well.
We haven't talked to him since, nor has he talked to us. We know through his aunt and uncle that he's claiming we'd given him permission to drive our truck, which we did not. We've decided not to press charges and chalk this up as lessons learned for both of us.
Leo had stood by my husband when hubbie came back from Iraq. Hubbie was pretty messed up after having been hit by a roadside bomb. Leo had helped hubbie get through some very difficult times. Hubbie trusted him with his life, now he can't trust him at all. Unfortunately, he's lost a very good friend because of Leo's irresponsible actions and betrayal of hubbie's trust, which hurts more than any of the rest of it.