The Quicksand Story

Our story through the quicksand of our own financial crisis

Archive for the tag “Connecticut”

Perspective

There are so many reasons to write this story. Life experiences make us better people. As a former police officer I am often asked if I liked the work. My answer is always, ‘Yes I did like the work. There are times that I miss it. The experiences have shaped the person sitting in front of you today.’ My time in law enforcement taught me a lot about people and what drives us to do what we do. Most importantly I learned how to talk myself into and out of difficult situations. I convey that experience and knowledge to my children every day. I want them to learn how to make decisions without being in law enforcement. I don’t want my children to see what I have seen or do what I have done; I show them from a safe perspective. It is the same reason I want to tell my family’s story.

As a police officer I learned to hear what people were saying; sometimes what we say and what others hear is different. We can say, “I am having a tough time” when we really mean, “We’re filing for bankruptcy. My wife left me and I drink too much.”  Telling our story will help others learn what not to do or how to climb out of a tough situation.

When I was growing up and well into adulthood I never understood why people I perceived as poor were poor. As far as I was concerned it really didn’t matter. They are poor and I am rich. I used to think others were poor because they were lazy and I was rich because I worked hard. That’s just not the case. We all make choices.

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Choices and Changes

When our choices impact our family’s future we are forced to look within ourselves and find a way out of our own mess. Society doesn’t let upward mobility happen easily. I had fallen from millionaire to pauper. Try renting a house when you have a bankruptcy, foreclosures, repossessions, tax liens and evictions on your credit report. The reality is that it doesn’t matter if you can pay the rent today and tomorrow. You are the number not a person and that culture needs to change.Bad things happen to good people and good people make bad choices.

My mistake during the years of financial meltdown was that I didn’t change fast enough. I made poor financial decisions because I couldn’t or didn’t want to see we were out of money. In 2002 Karen and I spent a month on vacation to the tune of $20,000. When we returned we had trouble paying the bill and it was then that I should have recognized something was different. I’m not sure it was denial at first, but rather the inability to recognize what was changing.

If I had recognized change I would have made different decisions for my family. We would never have sold the house in Milford or bought and leased new cars. I spend a lot of time thinking about how if I had buckled down at that time how different our lives would be today. There were a lot of opportunities that I couldn’t see while we were in the middle of it. I chose not to see opportunity to change and instead unwittingly chose to live in denial.

No Matter How Good It Is

So, Paul and I have been doing well the past year since moving out of Connecticut.  He has a good job, the kids are happy, I am happy.  No matter how good things are there are always mistakes.

Last year Paul got a ticket in Pratt County Kansas.  By the time paperwork caught up to us it was May 2011.  We wrote a check to the court for the ticket because obviously Paul was not going to fly back there to go to court.    We did our Civic Duty, Paid our fine and moved on with our lives.

Flash forward to yesterday…

We go to change car insurance to find a lower rate. (This is something everyone should do at regular intervals.) We get an email from the insurance company to call them.  So we do.  Come to find out Paul’s license is suspended.  As we investigate why it is suspended. We find out it is for this ticket in Pratt County.  Wait. We paid that!!!  Well apparently Paul’s information was never updated on the system and his license was suspended.  We would never have known about it if we didn’t re-evaluate our car insurance.  Thank goodness we did, because how bad could that have been…

This leaves me with one question:  How is it that we as citizens are held accountable for our actions (which we should be) yet the government, politicians, and their employees are not?  We did our duty and someone else did not yet we are penalized for it. What is wrong with that?

Trash Talking

I had been self-employed but we needed the money. We were going to lose another house if we didn’t start bringing in cash.

A dispatching position was posted in the New Times. While it was a bit beneath me I needed a paycheck. I was mentally exhausted and in no shape to handle a management position in spite of all of my jobs having been in management. Even in college I was a manager not just an employee. Having management experience meant I could handle high stress situations and employee conflicts. Not to mention I liked a challenge and needed my head to be anywhere except at home with bills piling up.

With only a phone number listed in the ad I did a reverse phone number search online. The name of the company was Diversified Waste Disposal. That was about all I found while sleuthing online but I made the call.

I spoke Rick C. and scheduled an interview with Rick and his colleague Bobby G.. At the interview they treated me well and asked about my resume. I had a lot of experience and they asked if I would eventually be looking to move up the corporate ladder. I said yes. They explained that there would be some room for advancement in the near future. I thought they were just talking about expansion and no idea that ¾ of the management team would be going to jail in the near future. Talk about trash…

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Love & Marriage

Karen and I met at the University of Bridgeport pool. (Thank goodness I wasn’t wearing a Speedo!)  I noticed her eyes first, the almond shape and the peculiar color. She was (and is) strong and self-confident.  We were there certifying lifeguards and she was re-certifying.  Honestly she knew more about lifeguarding than me and my certification partner put together, but the long and the short was she needed her certification.

The second thing I noticed was the scar peeking out of her bathing suit. I wondered to myself how she got such a scar. Anyway she was pretty impressive. There was this old guy who was trying to re-certify, he had heart and was in pretty good shape but just not quite at the level physically that all the others were in the class.  My partner assigned Karen to work one-on-one with him.  So we deputized Karen and she was working one-on-one with this guy.

Training for rescuing people who are in trouble in the water is a hands-on task. Karen’s ‘student’ was all over her and she handled it gracefully. Well as gracefully as a girl in her late 20’s can handle it when a guy in his 70’s is feeling her up!  What we didn’t know at the time was that he had tried to get her fired because she was eating in the pool area on an 8 hour shift.  It was one of the things that attracted me to Karen.

She is a very strong woman. Sometimes too strong.

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