With the oncoming snowstorm, he fretted about bringing his newborn son home. But an even bigger shock was just waiting in the wings.
Why is it that at the most critical of moments, everything goes wrong? Your new car always starts, but now that you’re late for work it won’t budge. You get laid off the SAME day you get a massive bill. Few things are worse than the universe conspiring against you, right?
After getting dealt the worst hand in history, one cash-strapped dad prepared to get flattened by the hand of a costly repairman – only to be completely blindsided.
An Unexpected Note
It had been a rocky month for Jesse Hulscher and his wife Maria. Like most young couples, they had been struggling financially to carve out a new life together.
And even though it wasn’t quite planned, they were determined to welcome their second son, Adler into the world. But just as things were finally looking up, he found an odd note attached to a repairman’s bill. Was this some kind of joke?
What Goes Up Must Come Down
Jesse and Maria live in Willmar, Minnesota. Everything was going so well for the young family. Then, later in September 2016, they shared some big news with friends and family — the Hulscher family was about to become a foursome!
But if something can go wrong, it will go wrong. Just when they thought things couldn’t get any harder, Jesse came home one night to a sight he’ll never forget.
A Close Call
On the night of February 22nd, Jesse was totally caught off-guard. Though she wasn’t due until March, Maria was going into labor. That’s when Jesse knew things were about to get pretty rough for the young family.
Little did they know, it was this night that would turn their whole lives upside-down.
That night, Maria gave birth to a healthy 7-pound 9-ounce, 21-inch baby boy. She was recovering well, and the whole family was ecstatic about the new arrival.
But they were so caught up in the excitement that the last thing they were thinking about was the weather, which would prove to be a critical mistake.
Bracing For The Oncoming Storm
Though Minnesotans are used to heavy snowfall, sometimes they just have to stay indoors and ride it out. On the morning of February 22, the National Weather Service reported an enormous snow storm coming towards southern and central Minnesota.
Residents bundled in and locked up tight, but all they could do was wait.
The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Watch and expected it would begin as heavy rain on the evening of Thursday, February 23, and change to heavy snow on Friday morning.
Upon learning the news, the Hulschers figured they would still have time before the storm hit for Jesse to get Marie and her new baby from the hospital and take them home to safety. But they couldn’t have been more wrong.
Something You Can’t Prepare For
It was right about this time that Jesse began preparing everything to welcome Maria and the baby to the house. Everything seemed to be in order, so he hopped in the shower before driving to the hospital to pick them up. But as he finished up showering, the water went cold.
Panicked, he went into the furnace room to see what was wrong. It was a nightmare come true. This really couldn’t be happening right now, could it?
A Broken Furnace
The furnace in the house had gone out. Jesse tried to fix it himself, but to no avail. Knowing temperatures were likely to drop below 30°F (-1°C) that evening, he realized the danger it posed for his newborn baby.
This new disaster couldn’t have come at a worse time, and Jesse had been totally unprepared for it.
Fearing The Worst
“Instantly I panicked,” he recalls. “I have a two-year-old here, a newborn coming home…and this was before the big potential snowstorm.” He picked up the phone, praying for a miracle.
Jesse and Maria had no ability to fix the issue and the situation was looking extremely dire for these two well-meaning parents.
Scrambling To Find Help
Jesse called a repairman that the family had employed a couple of times before. Unfortunately, he was completely booked and couldn’t make it to the Hulschers’ house in time. So Jesse went online to search for other repair companies in the area. But his bad luck wouldn’t budge.
All of the companies he called were busy helping other customers prepare for the storm. His time was running out. Then he remembered a crucial thing.
A Last Resort Call
Not long before, Jesse had a conversation with a neighbor, who told him about an AC and heating business in the area. The neighbor gushed about the company, talking about their diligence and great customer service. But Jesse couldn’t remember the name of the business.
In a Hail Mary attempt, Jesse called his neighbor to ask for the details. It was a long shot, but he didn’t have any other choice.
The neighbor answered Jesse’s call and told him the name of the company: Magnuson Sheet Metal. He called them and spoke to co-owner Craig Aurand, trying his best to express the urgency of the situation. His plea worked, and a repairman was at his house within 20 minutes of hanging up. They were able to fix the furnace and get the heat up and running.
A crisis had been averted and peace had returned to their household — until they saw the repairman’s bill.
Another Surprise Coming Their Way
Then, almost a month after the incident, Jesse opened the mailbox to find the invoice from Magnuson Sheet Metal. If you’ve ever had to have your furnace repaired, you know that it’s not a cheap venture. And if it’s an emergency call, the cost is usually doubled.
That’s why Jesse wasn’t looking forward to opening up this invoice, but what he saw was something he couldn’t have ever prepared for.
An Unexpected Gift
The invoice listed the work that was done at Jesse’s house: “Repair furnace. Clean burners and pilot assembly.” But, in lieu of a dollar amount for the work performed, was this note: “No charge. Take care of the new baby.” “I didn’t know if it was a boy or girl, I didn’t know if I should get pink or blue,” the owner said. “So I figured, we’ll give the baby heat! How about that?”
Jesse and Maria could not believe it. “I was like, ‘What? No. This can’t be real’,” recalled Maria. But it was.
A Story Worth Telling
Jesse took to Facebook to thank Craig and Magnuson for their service and amazing gesture. “Businesses like this earn customers for life! Thank you Craig and your staff for the amazing experience!” he wrote.
The account touched so many hearts that it went viral, prompting a Minneapolis news station to air the story. What they found was that the good deed was not a one-off for Craig and his company.
A Business That Cares About Its Community
According to the KMSP story, Craig has been known to help out families in need by forgiving small bills or doing work on holidays. It wasn’t long before comments started flooding in, confirming that Magnuson Heating and Cooling had done the same for others in the area, fixing furnaces and the like for free in the hope that the lucky recipient would pay it forward to someone else in need.
“We didn’t do it for the PR, we just did it to be good people. That’s it. Just to be nice to these people,” he stated. “That’s what this is about.” Even so, the company has clearly built goodwill in the community.
Praised For Their Actions
Magnuson Sheet Metal’s Facebook business page was flooded with rave reviews and comments from people praising them for the gesture to the Hulschers. “It is a blessing to have companies such as yours that not only does great work but also takes care of your community,” wrote one commenter.
The Hulschers themselves also vowed to be loyal customers — and also made one more promise.
Customers For Life
“We will definitely be calling on your services again… just hopefully not too soon from now!” wrote Jesse on his Facebook post. Obviously, one always hopes not to need constant household repairs — but it’s good to know there’s a business you can count on to provide good and honest service. On top of that, Jessie and Maria decided to pay it forward by giving back to their community.
After everything that had been given to them, they figured it was the least they could do.
Paying It Forward
When Jesse and Maria learned that Oliver, the infant son of their friend Shawn Block, was taken to the Children’s Hospital of Minnesota with a severe case of meningitis, they knew this was their chance. The Hulschers spread the word about Oliver’s plight and shared the family’s GoFundMe page to cover their medical expenses.
By the end of February, the fundraising goal had been met. It just goes to show how one seemingly small gesture can start a wave of goodness that helps friends, family, and even complete strangers in need. Pay it forward!
But Jesse wasn’t the only father to be completely blindsided by a note. Imagine the worst confession a father could ever get from his daughter. Well, that’s what Steve found…
A Heartbreaking Note
He couldn’t believe his eyes. He kept reading, even though every line that he read was like a fresh punch to his gut. He knew his little girl was becoming an adult, but he never thought she’d drift so far from what he taught her.
He thought of pinching himself to make sure he wasn’t dreaming. Heartbroken, he forced himself to read all the way through. Then he got to the last line of the letter, and he understood everything.
But when he woke up that morning, Steve never thought he’d find himself in such a bizarre situation. In fact, it was quite the opposite. That Sunday was an exciting day for him.
His favorite football team, the New England Patriots, was playing the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl LII. As a lifelong fan, he had made detailed arrangements for that day, because he didn’t want to miss a single moment of the game. But not everyone in his family was as enthusiastic.
Outgrowing The Fandom
Steve has a 16-year-old daughter named Anna. She is his only child, so naturally, he dotes on her. He fondly remembers taking her to Patriots games, buying her the team’s jersey and decorating her room with football memorabilia.
When she was little, she was as passionate a fan as she was. But as the years went by and she grew up, she started developing different interests. And soon, her love of the Patriots began dwindling.
Not That Into It
Anna had promised Steve she’d watch the Super Bowl with him, and she did. But he could tell she wasn’t really into it. She mostly stared at her phone screen, texting her friends and laughing at memes on the internet.
Steve was sad, but he didn’t say anything. He tried to focus on the game, which was not going well for the Patriots. In fact, it was going terribly. Despite mounting a comeback in the 3rd quarter, it was not enough. They lost 41-33 to the Eagles. Steve was inconsolable.
Mourning For His Team
After the game ended, Steve sat on his couch for a good 15 minutes with his head in his hands. He couldn’t believe the Patriots had lost to a team who had never won the Super Bowl before. His day was ruined.
Then he looked around the room and realized that Anna was gone. He decided to go look for her and take her out for ice cream. It wasn’t going to make things better, but would at least help take his mind off it. He went to Anna’s room.
A Note On The Bed
The door to Anna’s room was open, something that rarely happened now that she was a teenager. He walked in and realized she wasn’t there. But the whole house was quiet, so he had no idea where she had gone.
Then he saw a hand-written note on Anna’s bed. He picked it up and started reading, not knowing what he was in for.
“Dear Mom and Dad, I’m sorry to have to tell you like this, but I’m eloping with my new boyfriend Muhammad.” Steve’s head started spinning. He had no idea Anna even had a boyfriend. He kept reading.
“I’ve finally found true love, and he’s just great! I especially love his cute piercings, sexy scars, cool tattoos and his big motorcycle!” Steve was mortified. Had she drifted so far that she found a tattooed motorcycle guy sexy? But it was about to get worse.
Too Much To Handle
“And that’s not all,” continued the letter. “I’m expecting a child with Muhammad, and I’m already four months pregnant. We’re going to settle down in his trailer, and he says that he wants even more children. I’m so happy!!! And guess what? We’re going to get married next week!”
Steve thought this had to be a nightmare. He never imagined his daughter would become a mom at 16. But the nightmare was far from over.
A Nightmare Scenario
The letter went on. “Don’t worry about money – Muhammad’s friends Juan and Stanislav are in the movie business, and they’ve arranged for me to become an actress! The job pays pretty well, 50 dollars per take, and I get another 50 if there are more than three men in the same scene. So don’t worry about me – I’m 16 years old and can take care of myself. XOXO, Anna.”
Steve couldn’t take it anymore. And then he read the postscript.
Steve got to the bottom of the letter, feeling like he was about to have a heart attack. Then he read the last few lines.
“P.S. Dad, none of this is true – I only popped over to Emma’s place to watch some TV. I just wanted to remind you that there are worse things in life than The Patriots losing to The Eagles!” It took Steve a second to process the words, but then he understood everything.
Letting out a huge sigh, Steve plopped himself on top of Anna’s bed. Then he started laughing. Anna had scared the life out of him, but it had been to teach him a lesson. And it had worked. Suddenly, he couldn’t care less if the Patriots had just lost the Super Bowl.
After all, they were five-time champions and they were bound to win again. He felt silly for having been so upset. He knew he had to make things right – so he walked to the neighbor’s house.
Making It Right
Ever since they were little, Anna and Emma, the neighbors’ daughter, had been close friends. Steve wondered what Emma’s reaction had been when Anna told her about the note she left him. He felt a little embarrassed.
He knocked on the door, and both Emma and Anna appeared. “Hey, girls,” he said, trying to act as casual as possible. “Want to go for some ice cream?” He waited for their reply.
All’s Well That Ends Well
Anna and Emma looked at each other, giggled, walked out the door and followed Steve to his car. “How was the game, Mr. Steve?” asked Emma. “We lost,” Steve said. “But there are worse things in life.”
Anna just smiled and didn’t say anything, but he knew she realized her plan had worked. And it seems she’s not the only teenager to pull off this trick.
Other Versions Of The Letter
A man was passing by his son Josh’s bedroom when he noticed the bed was tidily made and there were no dirty clothes on the floor. Knowing his son, this struck him as odd, so he went inside.
On the bed, he found a note from the 15-year-old boy. The letter said he was eloping with his girlfriend Stacy, who was pregnant and infected with AIDS. But the postscript was even more clever than Anna’s.
Softening The Blow
In the postscript, Josh admitted none of it was true. “I’m over at Jason’s house. I just wanted to remind you that there are worse things in life than the school report that’s on the kitchen table,” he wrote.
“Call when it is safe for me to come home!” This time, Josh had used the letter to diffuse his dad’s anger over his bad grades. Do you think this trend will catch on?