When William Ross stopped in front of Craig Wink’s house a few weeks ago, he didn’t expect their conversation would start a chain of events that have made them both something of local celebrities. But news of Ross’s dedication to his job and Wink’s kindness towards a stranger has been spreading like wildfire.
It started with a friendly conversation — Wink was in his driveway working on his truck when Ross, on his way to work, walked up and inquired about an old car, a 2000 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT, that he had noticed sitting in the driveway. Ross wondered if it might be for sale and explained that he walked to work to Cracker Barrel (about 30 minutes each way) and needed something to get him back and forth to work this winter.
The car had been in Wink’s family since he purchased it out of a salvage yard in 2003. Despite the car’s salvage title, Wink called the Eclipse the most reliable car he’s ever owned. Wink, a retired firefighter, has done most of the maintenance on the vehicle himself and he said it faithfully served many of his family members, including his two daughters.
Wink said he didn’t think the car was currently up for any long road trips but supposed it would be perfect for Ross’s needs — something to protect him from the elements and getting him to and from his job. He told Ross he could sell it to him for $500 and Ross asked for a couple weeks to think about it.
But Wink couldn’t stop thinking about Ross.
Later that night he discussed the conversation with his wife and over the next couple days the couple came up with the idea of surprising Ross with the car as a gift. After talking with Ross’s managers at Cracker Barrel about the idea, Wink was even more convinced that Ross deserved the car. With the help of Ross’s managers they hatched a plan to surprise him after work.
One day Wink was waiting for Ross after his shift. He told him he had some bad news, that he couldn’t sell him the car after all, but that he could give it to him instead and handed him the keys.
For Ross, who at first didn’t believe what was happening, he said the experience has only confirmed what he already knew, that Georgetown is full of kind and generous people that step up to help their neighbors. He noted all the people that offered to help him with his commute last winter, from his managers at Cracker Barrel who tried to help with scheduling knowing that he was walking to work in the snow to the strangers that offered him a ride, and that’s why he said he loves Georgetown, because the people are “super friendly.”
When asked about his dedication to getting to work Ross said it’s very simple. He has four children that live in Bowling Green, and he wants to give them what they need “regardless of what it takes.” He hopes that as soon as he can fix a couple issues with the car he’ll be able to make the drive to Bowling Green to see them in person, but until he can be there for them physically he’ll be there for them financially, Ross said.
Wink shared the story and a video of Ross driving away in the Eclipse on his social media page in the hopes that it will inspire other acts of generosity and to show people in the community “there’s still good things going on around here.”
Wink, who lost his father in July before retiring as a firefighter August 1, had been feeling the loss of his dad and the stress the local community has been under, he said.
Giving his car to Ross was the kind of thing his dad would have done, Wink said, and it felt like his father was standing there with him, telling him to pass it on.
“I had the ability to give him something he needed, and it didn’t cost me a dime and it benefited him greatly,” Wink said. “If we can put a little sunshine in someone’s life we’re doing good.”
Elizabeth Morey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.