He inspects it. Single cab. Four-wheel drive. Low mileage. The paint is flaking. Rust on the doors. It’s a glorified hunk of metal, but they don’t make them like this anymore.

This story isn’t mine, but I’m going to tell it like I heard it. I first heard it from an old man who drove a Ford. And I have a soft spot for old Ford men.

So there he is. The old man is driving. He sees a car on the side of the highway. A kid stands beside it. Hood open.

The man pulls over.

He’s America’s quintessential old man. He drives a half-ton Ford that he’s been babying since the seventies. He changes the oil regularly, waxes it on weekends. The candy-apple red paint still looks nice.

He looks under the kid’s hood. He can see the problem right away, (a) the transmission is shot, and (b) it’s not a Ford.

Fixing it would cost more than the vehicle.

The kid is in a hurry, and asks, “Can you give me a ride to work? I can’t afford to lose my job.”

So, the old man drives the kid across town. They do some talking. The man learns that the boy has four children, a young wife, and a disabled mother living with him. The boy works hard for a living. Bills keep piling up.

It rips the man’s heart out.

They arrive at a construction site. There are commercial framers in tool belts, operating nail guns. The kid pumps the old man’s hand and thanks him for the ride.

“Take care of yourself,” the man tells the kid.

The kid takes his place among workmen, climbing on pine-framed walls, swinging a hammer.

The old man decides to help the kid. He doesn’t know how. Or why. But it’s a decision that seems to make itself.

That same day, he’s at a stop light. He sees something. An ugly truck, sitting in a supermarket parking lot. A Ford.

A for-sale sign in the window.

He inspects it. Single cab. Four-wheel drive. Low mileage. The paint is flaking. Rust on the doors. It’s a glorified hunk of metal, but they don’t make them like this anymore.

Out of impulse, the old man makes a deal. Old men who drive candy-apple Fords have been known to do that.

When the workday is over, the old man pulls into the kid’s jobsite again. The kid is loading work vehicles.

“What’re you doing here?” the kid asks.

“Came to give you a ride home.”

The kid hops in. They drive. They talk again. The sun is lowering. The kid smells like sweat and sawdust.

They arrive in a supermarket parking lot. The old man shuts the engine off.

“What’re we doing?” the kid says.

The old man points at an ugly truck with a for-sale sign. “What do you think of that truck?”

The kid’s face gets serious. His eyes become large.

“I asked you a question,” the old man says. “I know it don’t look pretty, but with a little work, it can be a dependable vehicle.”

The kid is unable to speak. He looks like he might even cry.

The old man doesn’t care much for tears—men from his generation don’t. So, he tosses the kid a set of keys.

“She’s all yours,” the old man says.

“You gotta be kidding,” the boy answers. “You BOUGHT that truck for me? You don’t even know me.”

“No, son,” the man says. “I didn’t buy that truck for you. I bought it for ME. I’m gonna fix’er up, make her pretty again.”

The old man pats the steering wheel of Candy-Apple Red.

“THIS is the one I’m giving to you.”

Old men. I sincerely hope to be one someday.

46 comments

  1. Tawanah Fagan Bagwell - February 27, 2019 7:35 am

    My husband drove a candy apple red Ford and gave away 5 different vehicles to the extended members of my family when they most needed a dependable ride. None were brand new but each one is still being driven today. My husband died one year ago today with mesothelioma.

    Reply
  2. Dewey Fleetwood - February 27, 2019 8:39 am

    This old man now has a tear in his eye and a little more pride in his heart. I’m loving your writing.

    Reply
  3. Cathi - February 27, 2019 8:46 am

    This one was definitely worth waking up for.

    Reply
  4. Allison N. - February 27, 2019 9:19 am

    You already are, Sean (in spirit). Love you!

    Reply
  5. Meredith - February 27, 2019 9:33 am

    You are already one of those men, I can tell through your writing.

    Reply
  6. Grace Foxwell Murdock - February 27, 2019 10:07 am

    Great surprise ending.

    Reply
    • Jess in Athens, GA - February 27, 2019 1:28 pm

      I agree, Grace, I was expecting the old man to give the kid the ugly truck. Man, that is a great story. I hope the kid is still driving the candy apple red truck today.

      Reply
  7. Karen Wilder - February 27, 2019 10:41 am

    That last sentence of yours gets me every time! Thanks again for helping me chase the sleep from my eyes with a few tears. You truly have a gift! ❤️❤️

    Reply
  8. Steven P Bailey - February 27, 2019 10:43 am

    Beautiful.

    Reply
  9. Nancy - February 27, 2019 10:49 am

    I used to think they didn’t make men like that any more, but I was wrong ’cause I see that in you!

    Reply
  10. Ron - February 27, 2019 11:12 am

    Great story to start this old man’s day. Thank you for it.

    Reply
  11. Jean - February 27, 2019 11:24 am

    Tears at that ending! Renews my faith in the human race.

    Reply
  12. AC - February 27, 2019 12:06 pm

    These are the silent Hero’s who get no recognition but are loved by the people they help.
    Sometimes it is little as holding a door.
    You are a HERO

    Reply
  13. Karen - February 27, 2019 12:13 pm

    Pass the Kleenex. I’m smiling through my tears. Thanks Sean.

    Reply
  14. Chasity Davis Ritter. (Freddie’s Daughter) - February 27, 2019 12:28 pm

    My dad was like this Sean. He didn’t live to be an old man. 68 to me will never be old He’s lucky he made it to that though. I’m luckier I guess that he did. If you ever saw the movie Second Hand Lions in the end when the shieks grandson arrives and is stunned to find out these men that his grandfather told crazy stories about really lived, the “kid” in the movie says “They Really did”. That was my dad. Some teenagers the year before referred to him as a legend. He always will be to me…. but I go on. My point was my dad was like this. He gave a way a few cars in his time. Someone that needed help that worked a little too hard really trying but not making it without a little help might find a used but dependable car in their driveway after hitching a ride back home from work. He did it without glory seeking. It’s just who he was. After his funeral I heard stories of other things he had done. The funeral director even told us “I can’t tell ya how many funerals he came in here and paid for and just said don’t tell them”. He was one of kind. Well maybe one of a certain kind that still exists out there but one that I hope I can be more like Thanks for all the stories you share. The ones yours and not yours. Thanks for the memories and even the tears. Thanks for the reminders of the good in the world and that every person is special and unique and that it doesn’t take much to be kind or to show love and compassion and that anyone can be an angel to someone else in need.

    Reply
  15. Kathie Kerr - February 27, 2019 12:37 pm

    I woke up in a mood. I having a hard time believing there are still people like this in the world today. My home state cant even agree to give people decent health insurance, pay a decent wage and resent every food stamp bite of bread put in a kid’s mouth. Im glad the young man in the broken down truck got the old mans help although i wonder what would have happened if he had been black or brown. Dont get me wrong, usually i can read Sean and fall down the rabbit hole of pretend. Can’t this morning. Woke up in a mood.

    Reply
    • Stuart - February 28, 2019 4:09 am

      I never had anyone “give” me insurance, and certainly not the State. The economy is flourishing now and jobs are abundant. Jobs that use to require college degrees don’t any more because companies NEED workers. People have been getting off of food stamps and are thankful for it.
      Quit hating.
      Who said the kid wasn’t black or brown??

      Reply
  16. Terri C Boykin - February 27, 2019 1:26 pm

    ❤️

    Reply
  17. Catherine in Augusta - February 27, 2019 2:01 pm

    I love this story, Sean.

    Reply
  18. Virginia Hamlin - February 27, 2019 2:12 pm

    Tears again – but good ones.

    Reply
  19. Phillip Saunders. - February 27, 2019 2:20 pm

    Big time sermon material, Sean. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  20. joyful reader - February 27, 2019 2:21 pm

    May you live beyond the century mark, strong, writing & leaving a legacy of ‘old man’ love

    Reply
  21. Edna B. - February 27, 2019 2:47 pm

    Sean, you will be one of those old men. It’s awesome the way you can find and see all the goodness that is all around us. God Bless that old man and the young guy. This story started my day off with a huge smile. Thank you, hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  22. Patricia A Schmaltz - February 27, 2019 2:52 pm

    So sweet… I hope to find opportunities like that on a regular basis!

    Reply
  23. MermaidGrammy - February 27, 2019 3:28 pm

    You’re going to just like this one

    Reply
  24. Susieq - February 27, 2019 3:33 pm

    Kathi Kerr, your comment should have been censored. Why must some people always ruin cordial relations by throwing a race card? It’s not necessary.

    Reply
  25. Donna Dicks - February 27, 2019 3:48 pm

    Well, okay. You just ripped out my heartstrings ( no tugging here). This is a wonderful story that I’ll carry with me for a long time. Thank you for sharing your gift for telling “heart songs”.

    Reply
  26. jeffreystaylor - February 27, 2019 3:49 pm

    Awesome story that made me smile this morning Sean! From and old man that drives a Ford.

    Reply
  27. Sheila - February 27, 2019 3:52 pm

    Wow. It seems that is all I can say after reading a lot of your stories. Wonderful and thank you

    Reply
  28. Barbara - February 27, 2019 3:59 pm

    My eyes are filled with tears again, my late husband was that kind of man not only as an old man but all is life. I recently met a young man with a kind caring heart, I truly believe God placed him in my path because he knew I would need it. Thank God for the good people with a kind caring heart in a world of so many terrible, ugly, unkind things. Thank you for sharing your stories.

    Reply
  29. Shelton A. - February 27, 2019 4:01 pm

    Great story. Heartwarming and inspirational. God bless old guys who drive Fords and the size/condition of their hearts and spirits.

    Reply
  30. Patricia Gibson - February 27, 2019 4:45 pm

    It is nice to be reminded how many good people are in the world.

    Reply
  31. Susie - February 27, 2019 5:09 pm

    Ugh!! Got me right in the heart! Love, love the ending!!

    Reply
  32. Judy O'Bar - February 27, 2019 5:30 pm

    Beautiful story about a good man doing a good deed for a young man and for himself. Just confirmed my belief that there are still good people in this world.

    Reply
  33. Janie F. - February 27, 2019 6:36 pm

    And that’s what I LOVE. Goodness about GOOD people!

    Reply
  34. Ellen C. - February 27, 2019 10:43 pm

    That one caught me by surprise and took my breath away!!!! I love your writing!!! My Daddy was an old Ford man!!!!

    Reply
  35. Carolyn Kelley - February 28, 2019 2:44 am

    Great story

    Reply
  36. Judi - February 28, 2019 5:00 am

    This was one of my favorite stories from you! I have it bookmarked ! You are my FAVORITE!

    Reply
  37. Estelle Sexton Davis - February 28, 2019 8:14 am

    It’s nice to know there are people still caring for others without asking for anything in return. I did not know how many people my mother took care of or gave a hand up. But at the funeral home after she died people came up to me and told me the help she had given them. There are still a lot of good people around. They just make the news. Reporting of today’s news follow the “if it bleeds it leads”stories. My husband and I watch ABC’s evening news with David Muir because there is always a good news story at the end of the broadcast. It gives hope for this world.

    Reply
  38. Cheryl Ratcliff - February 28, 2019 10:59 am

    It’s 4:50 am. Can’t sleep. Gotta get up at 6am to babysit my 1 year old grandson who is sick today. My husband always drove old trucks so I could drive a nice vehicle. Then in 1998 we finally bought him a brand new candy apple red 1998 Ford F-150. The next week he handed the keys to our son in high school. My simple prayer for my grandson today is that he grows up to be the kind of man that would give his candy apple red truck to someone in need. Thanks for sharing Sean.

    Reply
    • Cheryl Ratcliff - February 28, 2019 11:11 am

      By the way, our son had done the time driving an old clunker first. He was working a job while going to school. He played football and baseball, was an honor student graduating at the top of his class who went on to graduate from college.

      Reply
  39. Amy Morissette - March 1, 2019 2:29 am

    Another great one! ♥️♥️

    Reply
  40. Julie Davis - March 1, 2019 10:36 pm

    In the words of Charlene Darling, “That one makes me cry.”

    Reply
  41. Mary Ellen Hall - March 3, 2019 8:05 pm

    BEAUTIFUL STORY SEAN!!! I LOVE HEARING about KIND ACTS!!❤

    Reply
  42. Steve W. - March 27, 2019 6:48 am

    Love it. We can’t afford to give cars but always give what we can. My 9 yr old daughter recently gave $20 of her own money to a homeless guy. She was happy to help. You never know their story or need.

    Reply
  43. Charlotte - March 27, 2019 3:38 pm

    My daddy drove an old candy apple red Ford we referred to as “Old Red”. He was a good man, always helping people in need. We lost him 27 years ago but it feels like last week. Every time I see an old Ford truck that resembles “Old Red” I think of him. Guess I will never stop mssg him until I get to join him in Heaven. Thanks for the memories, Sean.

    Reply

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