Repo men may be perfectly nice individuals outside of their jobs, but no one wants to open the door to one of them. Given that these professionals are charged with taking away people’s possessions when they can no longer afford to pay for them, it’s no surprise that they get a bad reputation. However, Jim Ford is one man who was brave enough to break the mold.
Ford, who owns the company Illini Recovery Inc., is no stranger to a bit of tension between him and some of the people he encounters during his day-to-day life. After all, he has been working as a repo man near St. Louis, Missouri, for over two decades and, in doing so, has surely had to cope with several less-than-happy customers. Presumably, then, the man is well-versed in how to deal with individuals taking out their anger out on him.
Some of Ford’s repo-related encounters make for shocking reading. In fact, certain interactions with disgruntled clients have left him in the firing line – quite literally. The Missouri-native told the Miami Heraldin 2016, you see, that customers had actually tried to shoot him on multiple occasions, and one time he had even watched a bullet fly past his head, only missing him by a few tiny inches.
It’s even more alarming, though, to hear Ford’s description of just how close he came to death. He explained, “I felt the flash and tasted gunpowder in my mouth.” And as if that weren’t terrifying enough, the repo man also suggested to CBS News in 2017 that people may actually have tried to run him over with their cars.
However, there’s another day on the job that has stuck in Ford’s mind – for somewhat different reasons, though. During this particular shift in 2016, the 41-year-old was tasked with repossessing a car belonging to an elderly couple, Stanford and Patty Kipping, who had been experiencing financial difficulties. But this wouldn’t be just any regular task for Ford. In fact, what he ultimately decided to do is surely against repo man code. And as for the couple concerned, they couldn’t believe how their luck turned around.
It’s fair to say that Stan and Pat, from Red Bud, Illinois, had fallen on hard times. After all, the octogenarians’ bank accounts had been hit hard by their lack of incoming funds and the sudden increase in medical bills. Stan, for his part, had enjoyed a career in the Navy and had worked as a janitor, and the couple had never been very wealthy.
But cash had become extra tight when Stan had come down with the early stages Alzheimer’s disease, meaning that more and more had to be spent on his medication and other health-related costs. And as a result, he and his wife had fallen behind on the payments for their 1998 Buick, for which they were meant to be paying $95 a month.
Although Stan and Pat had never been rich, they had apparently always managed to stay on top of their incomings and outgoings. However, with mounting financial pressure, they had ended up in a hole of debt, from which they could see no way out. And the last thing that the couple needed was a repo man knocking on their door.
However, Ford of course was under obligation to carry out his repossession duties. And soon enough, Stan and Pat could see his tow truck parked outside their house. Luckily for the couple, though, they encountered perhaps one of the nicest repo men around, who preferred the more diplomatic approach when recovering debts.
Ford told CBS, “I may be getting soft in my old age, but you get more done with kindness.” Meanwhile, although Stan and Pat tried to maintain positive attitudes, the ordeal was nevertheless upsetting. Their 1998 Buick was part of their family life, after all, and their Pomeranian dog, Baby, absolutely loved being taken for drives in it.
Pat, for one, tried to keep faith that everything would turn out okay. She recalled to CBS, “When [Ford] took the car, I said, ‘God, do whatever… you think is best for us.’” And Pat also suggested that perhaps the repossession was part of a greater plan, adding, “You know, God works in mysterious ways.” As it turned out, she may have been right.
You see, Stan and Pat had struck a chord with Ford, and the elderly pair remained on his mind for some time after he had repossessed their Buick. He felt terrible that he had taken their beloved car, after all – especially considering the tough times that they had been going through. In fact, the whole ordeal seemed unfair to Ford, and he resolved to rectify the situation.
More specifically, Stan and Pat reminded Ford of some people close to his heart. He told CBS, “They’re like America’s grandparents. I saw my grandparents in them.” And so, not long after leaving the elderly couple’s house, Ford’s conscience forced him to take action.
In fact, Ford only made it a single block after leaving the Kippings’ home before he stopped his truck and called the bank. The repo agent wanted to help in any way that he could and decided that he would try and contribute towards the Buick debt. He explained, “I asked [the bank] if I could pay off the past due amount.” But, alas, it was to no avail, as the clerk denied his request.
Even after Ford had finished work later that day, the incident still stuck with him. He told the Chicago Sun-Times, “When I got home that night, I said to myself, ‘They are a real nice elderly couple. I gotta do something. I can’t just take their car.’” It seemed that Ford was becoming a repo man like no other.
However, unable to pay off Stan and Pat’s debt himself and with the local bank also refusing to chip in for the Buick, Ford had to flex his creative muscles. And he decided to do whatever it took to save the couple’s car – and return it to their driveway where it belongs.
And so, Ford set up a GoFundMe page in a bid to raise some cash for Pat and Stan’s beloved Buick. The GoFundMe Facebook page even shared Ford’s venture – along with a video and a caption that outlined his mission. “Jim Ford is a repo man,” the post read. “He takes for a living. But after picking up Pat and Stan’s Buick, he decided to give back.”
Next, Ford utilized his contacts in the repo industry to gain even more traction for his page. On its first night of being active, in fact, it raised over $3,500 – more money than Ford could have ever envisioned. After all, said sum completely covered the costs of the car – with plenty left to spare, too.
With the venture a success, then, Ford stayed true to his word and paid off the service fee on the vehicle before forking out the $2,500 that Stan and Pat owed to the bank, too. And after all that, there was still plenty of cash left over, so the repo man popped the remaining $1,000 into an envelope.
Remember, of course, that Stan and Pat still had no idea about all of Ford’s hard work – nor could they have imagined the surprise that was waiting for them. Indeed, the man had gone above and beyond with his exceeding generosity to make up for taking their car away.
In fact, Ford’s kind gestures were far from finished. He also employed the help of his friend Tom Williams to fix the lights on the Buick. And together, they also repaired the radiator, refilled the engine oil and placed a gift on the front seat for the Kippings to enjoy.
So, armed with said gift – a frozen turkey just in time for Thanksgiving – Ford and Williams hooked the fixed-up Buick to a tow truck and headed towards Stan and Pat’s house in Red Bud once more. And all that was left to do now was to relay the good news to the elderly couple.
When Ford and Williams arrived in the Kippings’ driveway, they saw that the couple were accompanied by a group of their neighbors, who welcomed them with cheers. And no doubt, it was a momentous moment for Stan and Pat. “It was a miracle come true,” Pat told the Miami Herald. “We didn’t know what we were going to do.”
Stan, too, recalled his delight when he had found out that he was getting his cherished car back. He said to the Miami Herald, “I got up this morning, and I looked up at the sun, and I said, ‘I hope we get our car back.’ It’s just unbelievable.” It’s fair to say, then, that the Kippings were truly overjoyed to be reunited with their Buick – but that wasn’t the only surprise that Ford had in store for the pair.
When Ford informed Stan and Pat that he had sorted the outstanding payments on their car, the couple simply couldn’t believe it. According to CBS, he told them, “We paid off the whole car. You have no car payment anymore.” And Pat then gasped, replying, “Oh, my God.”
Next, Ford handed Pat the envelope containing the remaining money. Seemingly unable to find words, the elderly woman gave him the best hug that she could muster over her walker. Meanwhile, a kindly neighbor retrieved the turkey and placed the gift on Stan and Pat’s doorstep. It was an overwhelming day, to say the least.
In a picturesque scene, Baby sat nestled in Stan’s arms, and Pat supported herself on her walker, doubled over in disbelief of Ford’s kindness. And the repo man, for his part, stood gleaming from the happiness that he had so clearly brought to the couple. Meanwhile, the Miami Heraldreported Stan’s surprise at seeing the vehicle. He said, “[The Buick] looks like it’s new.”
It’s obvious that Ford’s incredible act of kindness made its mark on Stan and Pat. The latter was later asked by CBS News about how the generous act had changed her outlook on life. “There [are] good people out there,” she replied. “[Ford’s] our guardian angel.” And the woman could see just how much effort the repo agent had gone to in order to spruce up her vehicle; she observed that he “must have cleaned [the car] up a lot.”
In addition, Pat said that she considered Ford to have one of the biggest hearts around. She told CBS News, “He was wonderful. I mean, he’s the kindest man I’ve ever met in all my life.” Just as Pat had pointed out, then, God certainly does work in mysterious ways.
Closing the story, the reporter for CBS News ended on a touching note. He observed, “There are good people out there – guardian angels – and sometimes you find them in the most unlikely places and professions. Because, although kindness is rarely a job, no matter what you do, it’s always an option.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the online community responded warmly to Ford’s kindness, too. The video on the GoFundMe Facebook page attracted overwhelmingly positive comments, for instance. One user wrote, “It does not matter what kind of job you do. At least it’s nice to know that some people like Ford still have a heart to go out and help others.”
Meanwhile, other online commenters defended the bad reputations that sometimes seem to befall repo men like Ford. One user wrote, for example, “[Ford’s] got a job to do. It’s not his fault if someone doesn’t pay their car note. He didn’t have to do this for the couple; he did it out of the kindness in his heart.” Indeed, you can’t blame someone for simply doing what they’re paid for.
What’s more, random acts of kindness like Ford’s are everywhere if you look hard enough. It could be a gesture as small as helping someone carry heavy luggage onto a crowded train or going much further like Ford did and transforming someone’s life. And one such selfless deed came from a mailman in the U.K., who gave a young boy the best gift he could have asked for.
Young Jase Hyndman from Blackburn in Scotland, you see, had written a letter to his late father for his birthday. He had placed the card inside an envelope and, not knowing a ZIP code or street name for where his father could be, the little boy had simply written, “Mr. Postman, can you take this to heaven for my dad’s birthday?”
While you may have guessed that Jase’s card never made its way to heaven, Sean Milligan, an office manager from the mail service, made a heart-warming compromise. And a few weeks after Jase had sent the letter, he received a reply, which read, “Dear Jase. While we’ve been delivering your post, we became aware of some concerns.”
The letter continued in a wonderfully charming manner. Milligan wrote, “So, I just wanted to take this opportunity to contact you about how we succeeded in the delivery of your letter to your dad in heaven. This was a difficult challenge, avoiding stars and other galactic objects en route.”
Milligan continued, “Please be assured that this particular important item of mail has been delivered. Royal Mail’s priority is to get our customers’ mail delivered safely. I know how important your mail is to you. I will continue to do all I can to ensure delivery to heaven safely.”
Meanwhile, the letter didn’t go unnoticed by Jase’s mother, Teri Copland, who subsequently shared a photo of the letter on Facebook. And she revealed how happy Jase was at the response. She wrote, “I actually cannot state how emotional he is knowing his dad got his card… You didn’t have to make the effort to do this; you could have just ignored it. But the fact that you have made the effort for a little boy you’ve never met is such a lovely thing to do.”
Copland’s post certainly attracted attention online, being shared over 500,000 times and receiving more than 58,000 comments. One user, for example, expressed her wish to see the Royal Mail carry out similar gestures for other kids. She said, “This is truly wonderful. Maybe the postal service could do this for other little children who have lost a parent.”
Just as Ford became Stan and Pat’s guardian angel, Milligan’s kind gesture reinforced Copland’s faith in humanity, too. Indeed, both men’s benevolent acts had such enormous and positive impacts on the people affected. And while of course not everyone has the means to go above and beyond, there’s always someone who needs a hand carrying their groceries.