June 22, 2011

"Grippers" #2 (how to get homeless without even trying))

Recap: Episode #1 --Bob Slider is laid off (click on "grippers" tab to view)

Episode #2--Tracey has more bad news

Due to a "fender-bender" on US 19, Bob was a half-hour late and did not get home until 6 p.m. Jake was nervously pacing back and forth in the driveway dressed in his baseball uniform. Bob had not even turned off the engine before Jake was standing by the window, all hyper. "Dad, where have you been? I'm supposed to be at the field by six. We gotta leave right now."

"Hey Jake, slow down. Slow down. Why didn't mom take you?

"Her car won't start."

"Oh great, just what I need. Okay, wait here. I have to talk to your mother. I'll be back in a minute."

"But dad, coach said---"

"Stop it Jake. Just stop. Now, wait here and I'll be right back. Don't worry, I'll talk to coach."

Jake's lips tightened, he folded his arms and leaned against the truck. Bob headed into the house glad that Jake was outside. His ever present smile was missing but Tracey did not seem to notice. She just started speaking. "Where have you been? My car won't start and you're not going to believe it but it is so nuts and---"

"Whoa, Tracey, slow down. I can always fix the car."

"I don't care about the car."

"Well then, what? What is going on?"

"What's going on? I'll tell you what's going on. They cancelled my unemployment because of that thunderstorm when our power went out and I didn't sign in on line on time and their computer kicked me out of their system and I don't even know if I can get it back and---oh my God, what a disaster. I needed that money for grocery shopping. Boy, I wish they would start giving you 40 hours again. This is getting a bit scary."

Bob was stunned and seemed to go into a bit of a daze. Only six months earlier the two of them had been bringing over $4300.00 a month into the house. Then Tracey's company "downsized" and a new computer system replaced her and eight other people who were suddenly considered
non-essential. Tracey's take home pay went from almost $1500.00 a month down to $126.00 a week in unemployment benefits. In less than six months the family's monthly income had been reduced by over $2300.00. Hack off another $504.00. Now it was over $2800.00 a month less. They were already one rent payment behind, had missed a truck payment and were at the end of a two week extension on their delinquent power bill. The car insurance was due, May was ending and June was only three days away. Inside Bob's head it was like a "demolition derby" as all of these thoughts crashed into each other in a matter of seconds. All he could say was, "Huh?"

"You heard me, Bob. They cancelled my unemployment."

Jake came into the house. " Dad, we have to LEAVE. I'm so late. I won't even be able to play."

Bob turned and snapped at his son, "Jake, I told you to wait outside so just do what I told you. I'll be there in a minute. I said I would talk to coach. Now, don't worry and just go outside and wait, okay?"

Jake stomped out in a huff and Tracey said, "We really needed that money for food. Your check was going to cover the electric bill and a partial rent payment. Plus, Jake needs his inhaler and that's $68.00. Mr. Margolese has been real good about the rent but we have to pay him something now. The new month is next week."

"C'mon, Tracey. We're in this house 12 years. I have maintained it for him, paid for repairs out of my own pocket, even repaired some of his other houses. It's like our own house."

"Oh Bob, that sounds so nice but the fact is--it is NOT our house."

"He's a good guy. I'll talk to him."

"Look, you better get Jake over to his game. Then come back and we'll talk about this. So, tell me, why do you have that funny look on your face. Is there something you're not telling me?"

Bob rolled his eyes upward, tightened his lips and breathed deeply through his nose. She could always see right through him. "Look Tracey, I may as well tell you right now and get it over with."

"Tell me what?"

"Bildot closed down today. Out of business. I don't have a job."

"Oh my God, oh my God."

Next time: Incident #3 Trying to pay the bills