When a wish fulfilled turns into a nightmare
Did you hear the story of the family that won a luxury RV? Well it’s not exactly a Happy forever story, but it certainly has some teachable moments.
The family of four liked to take trips together and had a long list of places they wanted to see. However, his budget simply did not include a lot of travel funds. So when the mother saw a contest to win a luxury RV, she thought, “That would be perfect for us! If we didn’t have to pay for a hotel, we would have more money for the other parts of the trip.” So, she entered the contest. Six weeks later, he received a notice that he had won the luxury RV. When he shared the news with the rest of the family, they were excited. And then reality reared its ugly head.
When he contacted the contest company, they told him that someone would have to pick up the RV in a city about 500 miles away in 5 days. Also, because the luxury RV was so large, it could only be driven by a person with the proper license. Neither mom nor dad had the proper license, so they mounted a frantic search for someone to escort them and drive the RV home, because 5 days was not enough time for one of them to get the proper license. They finally found someone. But one of them would have to take time off from work to take the driver to the pick-up location and they would have to pay the driver. And one or both of them would still need to get the proper driver’s license, since they couldn’t take someone with them on every trip just to drive the RV. When Mom spoke to the contest company again to let them know what day they would pick up the RV, she was informed that the family would also have to purchase insurance for the vehicle before they could drive it. Another frantic effort ensued as they added a luxury RV to their auto insurance policy. Dad almost choked on dinner when Mom told him the cost.
They finally got the motorhome and parked it in the driveway of their house. The next day they received a call from the homeowners association that a vehicle of that size could not be parked in their driveway or yard. They were told they had 2 days to move it or be fined. A more frantic search produced a place where the RV could be housed, but the cost was not cheap because the RV was larger than the vehicle storage spaces on the lot, so they had to rent two spaces. Three weeks later, after a lot of studying and several attempts at the test, both Mom and Dad received the proper license to drive the RV.
When the family started planning the first trip in their new luxury RV, they ran into a few other unexpected obstacles. First, not all of the campgrounds had sites large enough to accommodate their RV, so they were limited as to where they could go. This condition ruled out the top three most desirable places on his list of places to visit. Second, they realized that once they parked their giant portable hotel room, they were going to need another vehicle to facilitate sightseeing. There was more research and debate on whether to rent a small car that they could tow behind the RV or drive both the RV and one of their own cars to camp. The first option would result in the cost of the rental vehicle, buying or leasing a trailer, installing a hitch on your RV, and the stress of towing a trailer behind a vehicle that needed a “wide load” sign. . Sub-option 1 was to travel to the camp, take a taxi to a car rental location, and rent a small vehicle for sightseeing in the area. The second option of driving the RV and one of your cars to camp would mean double the gas and traveling separately. Either option would result in a lot of money spent on gas because the RV used about twice as much gas per mile as its cars.
When they finally had all the details worked out for their first trip (to a spot that ranked 10th on their wish list), the family looked at the money that was left in their vacation fund and were very surprised. Due to all the additional costs associated with using the new luxury RV, they had enough money to eat or pay the cost of visiting the sites. Mom said they could eat all their meals in the motorhome. After thinking about it for a bit, they realized that it was unrealistic because most days they would be too far from the camp to return to lunch. So, they got a little more engaged. They reduced the number of sites they would see and decided to pack all their meals rather than eat at the restaurants they had chosen.
Then, two months later, the family took the first trip in the luxury RV. When they returned home, they posted a “for sale” ad on Craigslist and several other websites. They decided that the amount of money, commitment, disappointment, and stress just weren’t worth owning a luxury vacation vehicle. They decided they would rather wait and save in order to maximize their vacation money and experiences.
This story is a strong parallel to the situation in which I have seen many people put their organizations when they seek funding that is not adequate for their missions and programs. It is very sad to see an organization compromise their mission, adversely modify their programs, and increase costs that cause them to abandon efforts. A little wisdom and a lot of reality before seeking or accepting funds could have kept the mission and programs intact. It makes you start to believe that “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”