Ever since we opened Sunrise Volkswagen of Fort Pierce in mid-February, we have been spreading the word about giving away a brand new 2019 Jetta. television commercials, newspaper ads, mailers, and e-mail blasts all mentioned that the winner will be chosen at the store’s grand opening on May 18th. So it was no surprise that we had nearly 1000 people register to have their names put in a bin at the VW showroom. I was to pick the name of the winner at 3:00pm.
Hundreds came to the grand opening to look at the dozens of vintage VWs from Florida’s Volkswagen Addiction Club. Iconic Buses and Beetles, as well as several Things and Karmann Ghias were parked around our new dealership. We had a band, barbecue (featuring hamburgers from the steer we purchased at the St. Lucie County fair) a hula hoop contest, and a myriad of children’s activities. It was a beautiful day with a nice breeze flowing though the VW service drive where we had tables and chairs set up for 200.
It was in the service drive that I was approached by a woman around 10:00am, shortly after I arrived. “You were in my dream last night,” she said. “I told you I needed to win that car and you nodded at me and walked away.” Lots of people had kidded me about pulling their names, but no one had predicted it would happen in a dream. I spent about as much time with her in the service drive as I had in the dream. “I hope your dream comes true,” I said and walked away.
I continued to make my rounds the rest of the day, chatting with friends and meeting new people who I hoped would be future VW customers. Several VW dignitaries came and we sat together for lunch before they presented me with a piece of crystal engraved with a depiction of the new dealership. I mentioned the “dream woman” to a few friends and family members and found out that she had also discussed the dream with my husband, Mike Wetzel, whom she recognized from the Sunrise Ford and VW television commercials.
Shortly before 3:00pm I was at the showroom counter where late arrivals were registering for the Jetta. There was a last minute hiccup when 16-year-old Grace Fee asked if she could register with only a restricted driver’s license. The rules said all participants must have a valid driver’s license. I decided it was okay and joked that there were enough lawyers in the Fee family to sort it out if there was a problem. I then noticed the dream woman again nearby in the showroom. I was surprised she was still at the dealership, nearly five hours after I first talked to her since the winner did not need to be present to win.
Grace’s name went into the bin and then it was moved outside and placed on the band’s stage in the parking lot.
Mike Wetzel spun the bin several times.We had already decided I would pull the ticket and he would announce the winner since I didn’t have my reading glasses. When I got to the stage, I asked him what time it was. He said we had 20 seconds until 3. We spun the bin a few more times and at exactly 3:00pm I pulled the ticket. I handed it to Mike and he made a joke about being the winner. He then announced the name, Cynthia Rutkowski. I heard a scream and was glad that the winner was there. Then I looked around and saw the dream woman. She was still screaming and holding up her arms.
It is hard for me to believe that I pulled her name. Cynthia told me this week she, also, cannot believe her good luck. “I was in shock,” she said. “It’s like winning the lottery.”
A friend loaned Cynthia the car she is driving now. She has never owned a new car. The last car she purchased was a used Sable that she bought from Sunrise Ford in 2004. The 62-year-old mother of four said her life has had some struggles; raising her children as a single mother, going through several jobs, living in a FEMA trailer, and now unemployed, but she said her life also has bright spots. She is a college graduate and in her younger days did social work with children and seniors in Broward County. She did a stint in Washington working with Democratic and Republican political parties. “You worked for both back then,” she said. More recently she worked retail along the Treasure Coast, after moving here from Fort Lauderdale in the 1990s. “I’m a people person,” she said. But we wanted to know if she was some type of psychic!
As we gathered around her after the drawing, my brother, Steve, asked Cynthia if she knew who was going to win the Preakness Stakes that afternoon. My sister-in-law, Teresa, had a fairly weightier concern. “Who is going to win the election?” she asked.
Cynthia laughed off the questions and later told me she really didn’t believe in psychics. “I was raised Catholic so I am turned off by that stuff,” she said.
She had a much more simple explanation for what happened. When she filled out her entry form she said she “felt really good about it.” As for the dream that Friday night, “I thought about the drawing all day. They say that if you think about something a lot you dream about it. I guess that’s what happened.”