In search of a used transmission…

As soon as the kids were off at school, I called around to some auto junkyards to see if they had a decent automatic transmission for a 92 Ford Aerostar. I didn’t have much luck and I called a few garages just to see what would be involved in getting a rebuilt one. To my horror, a rebuilt tranny costs over $1900.00, plus tax, plus almost $100.00 an hour to install it, plus a knot growing in my throat and the feeling of air being squeezed out of my lungs while listening to the mechanics quote prices for money I don’t even have.

Out here, not having a car is a nightmare as there are only two bus routes, the one that runs in the morning and the one that comes back during the dinner hour. That’s it. I had to cancel my teen’s doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning because we have no way to be there by 9 am. Even if the buses out here ran earlier than they do, we’d have to leave here by 4:30 – 5:00 am to be there on time. Add to this the fact that I got the van for free so spending close to $2,000.00, (possibly more as I don’t know what else might be wrong) is beginning to feel like the vehicle isn’t worth saving. For that much money, I could get another used car without a transmission problem.

Then there’s Caly calling her mechanic to see if he can find a transmission. I basically told her what’s the difference if he finds one less than what I was quoted since I still don’t have the money to pay for anything? He can call all around if he wants to but that doesn’t mean money is gonna fall from the sky!

I couldn’t eat yesterday and the day before I was just too stressed out to care. Maybe by tomorrow, Caly’s friend/mechanic will tell us how much he would charge but again, if I can’t afford to have him fix the van, it’s a wasted effort. Right now it’s about 6 pm and he hasn’t called so maybe by tomorrow I’ll know for sure.

Ahhhh….another day in paradise.


About invisibull

Let's see now, what should I say on here to make people think I'm more interesting than I actually am...I'm a single mother of two with a passion for helping others less fortunate than myself. I like to write, finished a book and am working on another. Other than that I live a real-life video game where the goal is to get out of homelessness and provide a better future for my kids. Peace!
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47 Responses to In search of a used transmission…

  1. Mooch says:

    hey miss fuller!

    I can offer some help hopefully. I am in a barter network, and I could at least look for a shop near you and pay for the labor, however, parts usually are paid in cash. Personally, I’d search hard for a used vehicle, craigslist, ebay etc.

    please don’t stress too much. I know how stubborn you are, but stay positive and know there’s tons of others willing to help you.

    stay passionate!

  2. Mark says:

    we are fighting with you. trust me on that

  3. Richard C aka xfilesTheTruthIsOutThere says:

    Hi Ms. Fuller

    I just read your story on Huffington Post and I was very moved by your story. I’m creating a fan page on Facebook to show support to you and to those who are currently homeless. Once I’ve created it, I’ll post it here.

    I’m also a writer and I look forward to reading your poems.

  4. Hugh says:

    Miss Fuller,

    You story strongly moved me. I have no idea where you are located, however I was goggling for a transmission compatibility chart and found this little snippet..

    “There is a vacuum diaphram that can fail which is mounted on the transmission case [Its called the Modulator]. Checked the vacuum hose for transmission fluid. The diaphram can ruptured, and fluid will be sucked through the vacuum hose up into the engine, where it will be burned with the fuel mixture.

    Im hoping whoever checked the transmission checked the fluid level. If not they need to check the level and see if its low. Low fluid can burn the bands, but why the fluid got low could be the diaphram. Should be about 150-200 to fix (or so).

    Now in the event the transmission is actually bad, consider a junkyard transmission from a ‘wreck’ (wrecks usually were running..).

    • invisibull says:

      Hello Hugh! Thanks for sending me this information. I just heard back from my friend’s mechanic and he has agreed to come over and check out the van to see if it is worth saving because his estimates on a rebuilt transmission with labor and a badly needed tune up and brake inspection, is going to run close to $3,000.00. Not only do I not have that money but, I am calculating whether or not the free van I was given is worth saving. We shall see.

  5. Ron says:

    Hello Miss Fuller,

    I applaud your tenaciousness. It reminds me of my wife who in 1995 was diagnosed with some diseases and told she had 5-7 years to live, her Dad died in her arms as the cancer took him away from her, and her now-ex embezzled $150k from her video store business, and she had a house with 3 daughters to support, no income from him at all nor payback for what he stole. In 7 years, she paid back the IRS what he stole from her and them. Her store needed 15k a month to just break-even, and she needed 5k a month on top of that just to break-even on her own personal life, so 20k a month.

    You do what you need to do to survive. You make it happen, and I can respect that.

    Here in MN, we have Free Geek Twin Cities where you could get a free laptop if you needed one, we have excellent social programs here in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area, so you would be able to get the help that you need here. I’m not sure where you’re located right now, but keep up the good fight.

    The World needs more people like you.

    By the way, you may not have a house, a physical, permanent address, but I believe that after reading your story on Huffington Post and your blog, that you have a home – in the hearts of many, including mine.

  6. Robert P. Pelletier says:

    Bonjour Miss Fuller,

    I wish to congratulate you for your book. It takes courage and devotion to write, but in your situation it is even more remarkable. My personnel experience with struggling is not even close to yours and you have give a me beautiful lesson today. I was a very important business man, and I have lost everything by one bad decision. My only comfort is my son and his mother (my love). In some situation, you need a small break.
    You have to reach to people and hopefully someone will be there for you. Please keep me postponed and I will try to do help. I wish you and your daughter’s a beautiful day…

    R P. P

  7. Nancy says:

    Ms. Fuller,
    I just read your story on Huffington Post and I was sincerely touched by your story. It is such an important story and one that needs to be told over and over. There are many people in your same situation and we need to see the true faces out there. Sadly too many people think that if you are homeless then you must have done something to be that way. The thing is nobody wakes up one day and says, “I want to be homeless today”. Circumstances and things out of your control are what happens.

    Have you ever used Craig’s List, my son goes there all the times looking for parts for his projects (restoring old VWs). Just a thought.

    Please stay strong. You are an amazing young lady.

  8. suzy h says:

    Your story is so daunting. My heart just breaks for all of you. As the mother of a young daughter myself, I feel particularly for your two girls. What makes this even more idiotic is that we have a house in upstate NY that is not being used. Have no idea where you are, but you are more than welcome to use it if you’re on the East Coast!

  9. Diana says:

    Miss Fuller,

    I just read your story on huffington post and I was extremely touched. I commend and admire your strength. I can even begin to fathom how you do it… We live in a society where we take so many things for granted and we waste so much energy on whining and complaining on such mundane things. Suddenly, you read stories like these and it makes you want to go out there and do something. It also angers me that in a country as rich as ours, that you are unable to find any help. I know there are many in your shoes and someting must be done! You have inspired me to go out and help my community in some way. I really hope that things turn around for you and your girls.

    Blessed be!

  10. Chayil says:

    I am like you and I feel so much better knowing that I am not out here alone. I have a PT job, go to school FT as a pre law student, and I fortunately live in a weekly motel with my kids. I get no child support and if my job were to end tomorrow, we are out on the street bc I live paycheck to paycheck, down to the penny. I don’t understand how this system works. I was taught that if I work hard, I will reap the benefits…but no one explained to me that statement had an * (does not apply in all cases) next to it. I get frustrated because I am out of options. I may not look it, but I am the one of the new faces of homelessness. I refuse to sell myself, but, I am beginning to see how for some women they feel like they don’t have choices. Many argue that I shouldn’t have chosen to have kids, but guess what? I chose to remain and raise them, when dad left them behind. I am not a drug user, an alchoholic, or an abuser. I am not unambitious or lazy; I am a working single mother who is homelss in America. This is the land of opportunity*, right?

  11. Vaughn CroweTipton says:

    Miss Fuller, thank you for sharing your story. Reading your blog, the Huff Post story, and your other writings moved me. I am chaplain and professor at a small liberal arts university in the southeast. I would like to talk with you about coming to our campus to share your story firsthand with our students and community. I understand that may seem daunting but I have no doubt there is much we can learn from your perspective and experiences. If you are at all interested I would enjoy talking with you about what this opportunity would look like and what I can offer.

    My prayers and thoughts are with you,

    Vaughn croweTipton

    • invisibull says:

      Hello Professor, thanks for stopping by. And to think I had left schooling behind! I don’t have a problem traveling but I’m sure it’s not free. I’m thinking campuses are a great way to get the “word” out. My email address is I look forward to hearing from you!

  12. JANNETTE Mooney says:

    Ms. fuller,
    Your strength is encouraging and very impressive. Your daughters are lucky to have a mother as strong and caring as you. I have a feeling things are about to start looking up for you. Please give me your contact information, I would like o do whatever I can to help you. Please email me at with your contact info.

  13. Peni says:

    Miss Fuller, Just read your story all the way from here in Fiji. My heart goes out to you and your children. I am encouraged however by replies I am reading in your Blog from those offering to help as I would also like to do something but am so far away. Please stay strong.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I am so sorry. I am sorry because I know what it’s like to be on the edge. I am sorry because of the situation women like us are in.

    I am sorry because Huffingtonpost is making money on your story by the ads on their pages–the only benefit to you is traffic to your site (do monetize it!). They will do anything for a story, but I hope it helps you. (Anything for words on a page, really not a story they want–the better the page clicks, the ad clicks, etc, the more money.)

    I am sorry because I read the words on this page, and it’s mostly all platitudes … caring, prayers, and compliments. You have a home in the hearts of many … that will keep you warm in winter, right? Are you actually supposed to be grateful for words like that? Would that person feel warmed by having a home in the hearts of many?

    I know what you feel! I am a single mom too. I have lived on the brink for years. I was sick and denied SS (though they hand it over in spades to men because we know they’re hard-working and not trying to milk the system, right?). And then I was grateful for a job that I dragged my painful, sick and tired butt to. All for our little ones. We are vulnerable with children, aren’t we?

    And then I tried a business, but the opportunistic men always hover around– there should be a price to pay by a woman among them.

    I am sickened by this country, I am sickened by the patriarchal system, and sickened because of your situation (and my own). I am sick of being underpaid and overworked. I am sick of being taken advantage of. I am sick of being abused.

    If you were dishonest, you would not be in this situation. If you were a crook, you would have made your way (probably would be a politician or a banker actually–but that would have to be really crooked).

    And that’s a sick system. It is heart-breaking when we feel we can’t better our children’s lives, or set an example for them. That is maybe the hardest thing to deal with. That we have to let them see that life is unfair, that society is hard, that a “christian” civilization is truly heartless and cold. And Santa Claus does not exist.

    And the best thing some people have to say is — you’re pretty–get a man. Like we are “whores.” Is that the best a pretty woman should hope for?

    No platitudes here, but hang on to your ideals and self worth. Whatever that means for you. Good luck to us all.

  15. Eli says:

    I too read your story on HuffPost. I can’t believe you’ve lived homeless with two children for 7 years. Hasn’t the child support agency demanded to take away your kids and give them to the foster care until you can manage it on your own? How on earth did you raise a toddler in the car!!! I don’t understand your story. Did you intentionally keep the baby in the car so you don’t have to give them away, even temporarily?

    How come you’ve never applied for assistance? There is no way the local, state, or federal government doesn’t reach out to someone in your position. Something doesn’t add up here. Where is the father to your children? Why hasn’t he helped? But I’m glad you are with your friend and have a roof on top of your head. I feel like crap having 5 extra bedrooms empty almost 99% of time.

    As for the transmission, it shouldn’t cost more than $800-$900 to install a used one, with labor. $1900 is for a brand new transmission with total installation.

    • invisibull says:

      Hello Eli, you asked some good questions and I have a good answer for you. Google “What it’s like to be a homeless mother” and I’m sure you’ll find the answer to some of your questions. I find it easier to send people to my letter to than to constantly repeat it over and over to folks who have your questions. Your assumptions that something doesn’t add up right is correct, especially when you assume what you don’t know. As far as transmission costs go, you are incorrect to think that $800-900 will cover costs to replace a transmission with labor. I don’t know what state you live in, but nothing is that cheap in Washington state. From your comments, you have a lot to learn about homelessness. Please read my letter on Then come back and tell me what you learned….

  16. Anonymous says:

    I am from a home with a single mother and I am 26 years old now. Your story will give your children the strength to know that no matter what lies ahead of them, your sacrifice and strength in the face of challenges, is the breath that flows within them. I can only hope that you know how your character in the face of it all, to echo beauty, strength, determination, and optimism – is a trait that essentially captures the higher facets of humanity. Please continue to show that in the face of it all, the noble mind and resilient heart is an element that unites even the harshest critic and most cynical of us all to remind us daily of what true strength is.

  17. flutinliz says:

    I just read the article about you in the Huffington Post and decided to check out your blog. Thank you for sharing your story!

    My brother is a mechanic in the bay area of CA – he might be able help you out if you live around there.

  18. latinoinformationalnetworkofks says:

    i agree with an earlier commenter. your audience has exploded and your should feel free to bounce ideas off of us. i think everyone here feels like you deserve so much more and we’d all be willing to help in some way. feel free to ask away!

  19. Scoob says:

    Hi from a fellow vehicle-dweller ;-p
    Like you, I “saw it coming”, and purchased a $2,000 RV (like yours but older and
    slightly smaller) on ebay back around 2003/2004. I have been living in it ever since.
    I only kept the plates/insurance on for about a month – long enough to take Amtrak
    up to where the RV was located, drive it the 450 miles back home, err….back to my neck of the woods. On the trip back, I quickly discovered this RV
    was a total pig on gas, and got only 3 1/2 MPG!
    I put the RV in storage, and slept in my conversion van (which got about 8 mpg), and used the van as transportation. I “visited” my RV so I could wash up, and, over a period of time, slowly weaseled my way into getting the manager of the storage yard
    to allow me to sleep in it at night.
    After 9 months of no electricty (in Summer, of course;), no fan, no refridgeration,
    countless trips into town to buy more ice – 9 months of running the laptop and cellphone (which I used as a modem with a data-cable) off the Diehard under the hood,
    9 months of countless trips into town to buy more gas so as to run the RV’s engine and recharge the battery, one of the landscapers moved out, leaving a parking slot open that just happened to be by an electric meter w/some outlets 🙂
    The property manager said to me “If you can get them (the electric company) to turn on the power, knock yourself out – you can park there” I went down to the electric company’s office the next day, and convinced them to turn on the power – no
    small feat because it was a commercial account and I had to BS them a little because
    I was an individual and not a business, but $100 deposit, and a day later, the power
    was on and my account was active :-)))
    I then went on a shopping spree! Air conditioner! TV! Microwave! Refridgerator!
    Playstation! Suddenly, life was pretty damn good! This very favorable and lucky situation lasted for 6 years before things started getting dicey wit

    • Scoob says:

      with the town, and I had to leave, but the cheap rent ($100 a month) allowed
      me to pay off all 7 of my credit cards ($23,000! in high interest debt), and
      save up some money.

  20. Scoob says:

    I moved 2 years ago, and am still living in this increasingly decrepit, leaky, drafty and largely-uninsulated RV. I haven’t had running water or sanitaion in 8 years (and counting), but I am SO used to living like this, it’s simply normal to me.
    One huge difference, however, between your situation and mine, is that I am a
    single older guy with no kids. If I had kids, I don’t know WHAT I would have done.
    That’s gotta be a SUPER hard situation! My heart goes out to you and kudos for managing to keep it all together as much as you have. Your life will change for the better because of the things you are doing now to improve your situation.

  21. john woodhouse says:

    hello there I have a house in pennsylvania you can livein for free if you are near this area beaver county. large house I bought , but im in new york , so I need to fill it , email me if it helps,

  22. Jeffrie says:

    Hello Ms. Fuller,

    I read your story in Huffington Post and I sooo feel your pain. I am a single mother of an 8-year old boy. The only reason I’m not homeless is because my parents purchased the home I’m in and pay the mortgage. Still I’m in constant fear of my lights, phone (gas has been off for over a year), and water being turned off. My car didn’t pass inspection and I can’t afford to get it fixed. I am a outside sales person which means I need my car. I’m overdrawn in my checking account and have $7 to my name. My ex-husband after three years of court battles and thousands of dollars in attorney fees has decided to skip town and no longer pay child support. Still I feel blessed. I know that although this has been my life for nearly 4 years now, it is only temporary but it has changed me forever. My goal is to reach out and change the lives of single parents everywhere. It is amazing that sometimes even $20 can make a world of difference. This I would have never have thought 4 years ago. I am a better person for my experience and so is my son.

  23. Nunya Waye says:

    Where do I begin?
    I know…God bless you and your daughters that you all will IMMEDIATELY and fully recover from this situation and never return to it.

    I don’t have money to offer. I really don’t. I have about $3.62 in the bank and I leave it there even when I have less than that amount just to keep the account open.

    I can so relate to your story even without kids. I am a woman. I live in the D.C. area and I am college educated, a writer/artist and a former Administrative Asst. with a lot of big-wig corps. I am temporarily staying at “friends'” houses. When a place to stay runs out I literally live out of my car and visit my storage unit DAILY. Right now I am locked out of my storage unit for late payment so, yup, today I will literally panhandle to raise the money to pay for it. I spend more on gas driving from place to place to stand and ask for money.
    I get all kinds of responses, as you can imagine. People automatically think the worst of you. As if I would “run a scam” by asking total strangers for mere dollars while being gazed upon and judged as lazy filthiness.
    I am considered to be attractive. I am clean. I am articulate and still, they think the worst of me. Drugs. Whatever.

    Though this isn’t about me, it’s about YOU, I wanted to write in because one, I wanted to publish my prayers for you and two, I want to further make people aware of this problem by briefly telling my OWN story and three, I love that you labeled it “coming out of the closet” with homelessness. I LOVE THAT. It’s so desperately true.
    We spend so much time hiding. Hiding from the police because we can’t park so many places but for so long. I use P.O. boxes to “cover” up my lack of a permanent address. The “system” is very unfriendly to homeless people. I sucked it up and went to ask for food stamps the other week…Don’t have a real address/couldn’t prove residency in that county so couldn’t get any.

    So many people just live their lives. They can’t imagine this. They have ten family members/friends to work their way through before actually ending up on the STREET. But for someone who grew up in the foster care system I HAVE NO ONE TO FALL BACK ON. After staying at a few friends’ homes, that’s it.
    I interviewed for a temp job (again) this week. They still haven’t called me with an assignment. Waitressing jobs even require “experience” to take an order, give it to a cook and then serve it with a smile to ravenous customers. I don’t blame anyone but it is frustrating being in this predicament. It can easily spiral so far out of control that it ruins your life.
    I look at homeless people who live on the streets differently now. I have flashed-forward many times and could see how they could’ve fallen through the cracks. It messes with the core of your psyche.
    I’ve written too much.

    I hope someone reads your story and helps you OUT of this mess. Not “kind of” helps you but HELPS you.

    • invisibull says:

      I am so glad you did write in. Getting out of homelessness is an everyday fight, especially when there aren’t that many jobs in your state and there are so many people here that are still unemployed. Would you mind sharing your experiences with foster care? That’s another issue I’d like people to hear about from those who lived through it.

      Stay strong and keep your head up!

  24. Happy in Rio de Janeiro says:

    Dear Ms Fuller

    We are sure God will find a solution for all your problems, just don’t give up…Breaks our heart to see more than a million Americans being homeless.

    Warm regards, many blessings to you and your kids, from Rio de Janeiro, Brasil!!

  25. Zenzendo says:

    Miss Fuller, Please put up some bank account info so that people have the blessed opportunity to assist you in whatever way they can.

    Be strong!!!


  26. steven says:

    There’s not much that i can say that the other above me haven’t already, so with that said thank you for having the strength to endure and share your story. Also, i wanted to know are you getting the proceeds for your book?

  27. rona says:

    C.O.U.R.A.G.E.O.U.S. thank you.

  28. thepracticalutopian says:

    Perhaps you could contact–Take Back the Land is an organization on the East Coast that has allied organizations throughout the U.S., and they (1) find what homes had been foreclosed by banks (especially during the crisis), but (2) are now vacant and owned by the government. Then they take these abandoned homes, ‘break in’ to them (though it’s a bit perverse to consider it a ‘break in’ as it’s publicly owned) and move in families who are homeless. I’m not with the group, but I saw their founder speak, and they specifically focus on building relationships between the people they move in and the neighbors, and their legal reasoning for their tactics have something to do with (1) that companies were bailed out on the public dime, and (2) that the houses are publicly owned, and so citizens have a right to stay there. I’m paraphrasing from memory, their reasoning is more complex than that, but my point is they have a great success rate in placing people in homes, building good community relationships, and defending those homes. ‘The system’ failed your family, and you all deserve much better–you’re exactly the type of people TBTL helps out, and I think if they have an allied organization around where you live, it would be a good option to try.

  29. Gw says:

    Where can I send a donation?

  30. Carey – thank you for sharing your story and helping to make homeless families visible. I’m sorry we don’t have a Bridge of Hope in your area – yet. Bridge of Hope ends homelessness for women and children by creating a three-way partnership between a homeless single mother, a social worker and a trained group of mentoring friends from a church. We invite folks to contact us ( about starting a Bridge of Hope in their community. Here’s a story from Bridge of Hope in Indiana:

  31. John says:

    If you happen to be in Northern California, like maybe paradise could have a capital P, we might be able to help a bit. In Oroville, CA, older couple; good luck.


  32. Val Casale says:

    I simply want to say I’m new to weblog and definitely enjoyed your blog site. More than likely I’m going to bookmark your site . You amazingly have great articles. Kudos for revealing your web-site.

  33. Eva Mauder says:

    If you have a bank account, set up paypal and people can make automatic donations.

  34. j m says:

    I just saw your story on youtube and Googled your name to find this string on comments dating back two months. Several people have offered free housing. Is there a reason that you are still living at the rv rest stations.

    • invisibull says:

      Thanks for stopping by. Fyi- just because someone offers you free housing, doesn’t mean it’s safe to accept offers from people you don’t know. Please go to as that is my current blog site. You will find more up to date information there. I can’t accept offers to move to the other side of the continent without a living wage job in place. To do so would be to trade homelessness in Seattle for homelessness somewhere else with a worse economy than Seattle. If you read what I post on, you’d know why we are still living out of our mini van and staying at rest stops. This site is soon to be taken down….

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