The Quicksand Story

Our story through the quicksand of our own financial crisis

Archive for the tag “foreclosure”

Best Darn Meal I Ever Had

I guess to know me is to understand that I love food. I love the whole dining experience. The service, the ambiance. I love the way wine can be paired with cheese. I love the way a filet minion can taste wrapped in a little piece of bacon. I have eaten in some of the best restaurants in Manhattan, Miami, LA and Paris. I have spent over $700 on dinner for two. I will remember them, and talk about them for the rest of my life.

I was completely out of work and money. The only thing we were doing was working with a company called Melaleuca. We were trying to make it big there. But it was hard. I didn’t know it then but the people we were trying to get involved saw our desperation. I don’t know if they knew what they saw or just saw that something was off. Normally our checks were $20-30 dollars. I went to mailbox before I had to pick up the boys at school and saw the oversize envelope from Melaleuca. I knew it was money and a sense of relief swept over me. I figured I could get about a week’s worth of Pasta and Milk for $20. I opened the envelope and found a check for $405.00 dollars. Seems a couple of the people underneath us had introduced some new customers. It was awesome. I sat in my truck and cried. We had food. I called Karen and she jumped in our Excursion and ran and got the boys. We rarely used that truck because it was a V10 and expensive to run. Probably looking back on it now it probably wasn’t insured and the registration was suspended. I took the check and ran to the pawn shop. I couldn’t take it to our bank for two reasons. One it was an out of state check and it would take 4 days to clear and two we were over drawn by the same amount, so if I deposited it the check would be gone. So I would cash it at the pawn shop and pay 1.5% and get cash. I cashed the check then I immediately went to Burger King because it was close. I went to the drive in and ordered a Whopper meal with a Coke. I paid the cashier and pulled away. I didn’t even put the truck into park I tore open the wrapper and bit into the sandwich. I was awesome. The “special sauce” squeezed out the backside of the sandwich all down my shirt. I really didn’t care. To this day I can still taste the fresh crispy onion. I drank the coke like it was just given to me by Jesus Christ himself during his Last Supper. Just last week I went to a different BK and got a Whopper meal. I flashed back to that day. It tasted just as good as it did that day. Out of all the places that I have eaten, of all the delicacies I have dined on none of them tasted as good as that Whopper Did that day.

Loyalty

I have grown up believing that loyalty is a great thing to have.  And I agree.  But I also believe that it has been manipulated on us for to help those who have perceived power over us as people.  Be loyal to your job even though they cut your pay, decrease your benefits and increase your workload….  Don’t go and work on a business in your own time that will increase your wealth and not theirs.  Or this thought,  I can’t start a direct sales job on my own time, it is against company policy.  Who cares that that policy doesn’t give a hoot about you or your family.

I think it is time to redefine loyalty and who we give it to.  Be loyal to your family, your immediate family.  Your wife and children family.  Be loyal to yourself.  If you feel badly about doing something you are asked to do, don’t do it.  You have to sleep with yourself and your family at night not your employer.  You would think this is commons sense.

How about when it applies to your bills and mortgage.  It is not so clear cut.  You are underwater on your house so you can’t sell it yet your credit cards are calling you 5 and 6 times a day and you need to feed your family.  I know how it is to have trouble letting go of a house from loyalty, I also know how difficult it is to receive those call from our friend, BILL.  Ultimately be loyal to your family and yourself.  Look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  The greatest responsibility is to feed and cloth our families and put a roof over their heads.

There is no shame in Bankruptcy or short sales if it allows you to care for yourself and your family.  Don’t lose hope, there is always a way through the quicksand.

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.

Conscious Decisions

Chefs often recommend making your own stock. It is more flavorful and uses more of the meat and bones. For us it was a cheap source of protein to feed our growing children. I did what I could to feed my family. If that meant I did not eat then so be it. That was fine as long as the children were healthy and full.  Sometimes I wouldn’t eat anything for a day or two.  Life is tough when you haven’t eaten in two days and are still too embarrassed to go to the food bank.

In those days I couldn’t tell you where to find a food bank. If we were in that situation again I would go simply to keep my family fed and myself healthy. Survival.

On the days I didn’t eat I could feel the fatigue. My body was eating itself to wake me up. I would supplement food by drinking milk.  I remember feeling like there was a hole in my stomach And that I would never feel full again.  Some mornings I forced myself to get out of bed. It was a conscious decision to live another day. It was also a conscious decision to awaken to the power of positive thinking.  I felt that if I gave up on the positive thinking that I would not be able to get through another day.  Some days the positive thinking just did nothing to help.  I thought about stopping my mantra but it was my lifeboat giving me hope in a sinking ship.

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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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