My dresser drawer made a hollow, clanging noise as I pushed it firmly shut. It was exactly 9:37 p.m., and the room was quiet. The cold and wintery frost bit through my coat as I trudged out the front door, a cardboard box balanced on top of my right shoulder. I was the last one to leave the dealership, not unusual for me, and my blue Prius was parked next to the building, its trunk open and waiting. I felt no emotions or regrets as I tossed the box into the rear seat and got in.
The ringing of my cell phone drew me back into the present. A familiar name and number flashed across the display screen. I immediately hit the Bluetooth answer button on the steering wheel.
“Good evening, Moses,” said a disembodied voice. “This is Mr. Prinkley. Me and my wife are in the market for a new Toyota. We would like to schedule an appointment for Saturday morning. We want to drive the Sequoia, the 4-Runner, the Highlander, and the Rav 4. We’ve also been shopping with several dealerships in St. Louis and Kansas City, and although we like you, and would prefer to buy from you, we will go with the salesman who gives us the absolute best rock-bottom price. Just business. You understand.”
My mind flashed through the most likely scenarios… I was still three car deals away from hitting my monthly bonus, and Saturday was the last day of the month. I would probably spend the entire day with Mr. and Mrs. Prinkley, test drive all the vehicles they wished to see, and in the end, not sell a single one. Mr. Prinkley was a tough negotiator. Even if we made a deal, it would be months before the paperwork was finalized.
I weighed all these options, and more… and then the reality of my situation suddenly hit me. I was so programmed to say the things expected of a salesperson that I had completely forgotten.
“I am sorry, Mr. Prinkley, but you’ll have to call someone else. I no longer work for Joe Machens Toyota.”
I rolled over and, out of habit, glanced at my cell phone to see how many calls I’d missed; how many texts I had to respond to. It was Saturday morning, the biggest day of the week. Then, I realized I’d turned the phone off the night before to avoid talking to anybody. Because I was out of a job. For six years, I had sold cars. For six years, I had left my house before my family got up in the morning and returned again long after they were in bed. For six years, I had come home Saturday evenings so drained I hadn’t even the mental capacity to wrap my brain around the cartoon television shows my children had on the TV. For six years, I had slept my Sunday’s, unable to play with my children, just so I would have enough energy for another six-day week of selling cars.
But this Saturday morning, my phone was shut off. This morning, now, was my time. I needed to get well. I needed to get back the life I once had.
For the next six weeks I tossed and turned in my bed, curled up into a tight ball, my body burning off the prescription drugs I’d put inside my body for too long to remember. The pills had been prescribed to help me cope with the stresses of car sales. In fact, they had been prescribed during the filming of Amish: Out of Order, a television show I starred in in 2012, and if I’m honest with myself, in hindsight, trying to balance two high-stress careers had been a recipe for crashing.
For six weeks, I was so weak that I crawled to the bathroom to use the toilet—crawled because I simply didn't have the energy to walk. But even during the worst of it, I knew I was healing. The dark cloud hanging over my head lifted a little more each day. And through it all, I tried to sort out how I, Mose J Gingerich, ever allowed myself to get into such a predicament in the first place.
It started in 2012 while filming Amish: Out of Order. As stated before, I did this while keeping my full-time job selling cars. Financially, it was a good year. But, the stress took a serious toll on my mental health. I’ve come to understand that one can reach the point of overload—it was a high price to pay to learn a valuable lesson.
For one year, while balancing film and sales, I averaged about five hours of sleep per night. I sacrificed sleep because I wanted to make the television show as good as possible, but I will admit, I was also very conscious that television shows fade quickly, and soon enough my celebrity fame will be gone and I will only have car sales left. In short, if I neglected my car sales career, I would lose all my customers.
By the end of it I was crumbling. I managed to keep going, convincing myself that once the filming part is over, I can allow myself to recover then. But that would not happen. After the filming was complete, came a brand new level of stress. Publicity. Hundreds of fans of the show arrived at the dealership to meet me, visit, many of them trying to convert me to their religion of choice. I received thousands of emails, and many more phone calls from people who had been touched by the show. I wanted to help them all. They had watched a ten-part documentary of my life and that made us connected. But eventually, it became too much, and my life collapsed in a big old messy heap. Call it ‘burnout’, or ‘crashed’. But I needed help. Professional help. Soon I found myself in a doctor’s office, pleading for a solution to my mental collapse.
What came next is something that I have come to deeply regret. By only asking a few simple questions, the doctor loosely diagnosed me as having a Bi-Polar Disorder. (A real joke looking back) The doctor was quick to prescribe me some of the strongest medication available. And I, having no experience in such matters, took the diagnoses at face value. The doctor was after all, the professional, and I was only an ex-Amish with an eighth grade education. I became more convinced that the doctor was right when, after taking the prescription pills, I felt great. Overnight, my troubles washed away.
Unfortunately, however, ‘when something seems like it is too good to be true, it usually is’. I was unaware, and nobody told me, that a body becomes immune to prescriptions. Very quickly I became caught up in a whirlwind of changing medications and changing dosages, all in an attempt to keep me high. And numb. I functioned, but any creativity was gone. I became a zombie. Almost overnight I went from one of the top salesmen in Columbia, Missouri, to barely average. My marriage crumbled. My wife and I separated and I moved into an apartment. I didn’t feel like I had a choice; I had to fix me before I could try to fix my marriage. In hindsight, the best decision I made during the four years of prescription drugs, was to finally get out of car sales. I did not know what the future held. I didn’t even have another job lined up when I quit. All I knew was that I needed to clear my mind and get back to the old me. The Mose who had a passion for life. The Mose who wanted to learn new things and do more with his life. The Mose who left the Amish to try and help change the world. But before I opened new doors, I had to close the doors in my past.
I sit in the parking lot of a Petro truck-stop in El Paso, Texas. From where I sit writing this, I could throw a rock and almost hit Mexico. It is nearly 2 a.m., and I am tired, but I am happy. For the first time in a long time, I am writing. I had forgotten how much writing inspired me. Tonight, my mind is free and clear. I feel good. I appreciate life again. And I feel safe—something I had been missing.
My rig is among several hundred at this truck stop, and it occurs to me, while listening to the purring of massive engines, that maybe for the first time in a long while, I might begin to answer a few of the thousands of emails I’ve received from fans—emails that sadly have gone ignored for far too long—emails from people who were touched by the show and simply wished to send well-wishes—people wrote to tell me they liked the show. They wrote to wish me well. They wrote to just make sure I was okay.
Well, I am okay… now. And I thank you for asking.
Added in and edited May 17, 2016.
A lot of people read this blog, and there was some uncertainty on several of the issues I mentioned. I'll try and explain better.
I'm not sure if I'm Bi-Polar. Probably, I'm not. Since getting off the meds, I have felt great. I believe the meds were a simple short-term fix for a very stressful time in my life, but I should have never been loosely labeled with a condition that could have ruined me forever, but for a strong internal resolution to take my life back. Someone, maybe the doctor, should have told me that I have the option to only take the pills for a few months, then slowly wean myself off them. But nobody did. And in their defense, taking prescription pills is not one’s proudest moment. Not many people knew I took them, so not many people knew to advise me.
My wife and I got back together. Changing jobs, and other life changes too numerous to mention, were all a part of trying to get back what the old Mose had—a family and a solid marriage. It was not my intention to mislead anyone on that matter. (End of edit)
This blog was written to update the people that I have come to care about. It was written to inform that I am now in a better position to communicate with the people who reached out to me after the show Amish: out of Order.
I have created a Mose J Gingerich Trucking Fan Page on Facebook. I will be posting on it regularly. I cover 48 states. I often have down-time between deliveries. I would like to meet people along the routes and do lunch or dinner.
I do not yet have a CB Radio Handle name but am open to ideas.... don't be shy. Post ideas in the ‘comments’ section below.