July 15, 2011

"Grippers" #5 (how to get homeless without even trying)

Recap: #1, Bob Slider is laid off;  #2, Tracey loses her unemployment; #3, confronting finances over beer & pizza; #4; meeting with the landlord  (click on "gripper" tab to view previous episodes)

Episode 5: Running out of money.

It was 5:30 a.m Tuesday and , as usual, Bob woke up and began getting ready to go to work. It actually took him a few moments to accept the fact that he actually had no place to go. Somewhat lost inside of himself, he walked outside into the morning darkness and stood by his truck. He decided to drive over to the Park Slope Cafe and get some breakfast. He loved their "All-American Skillets" because they were loaded with so much bacon and sausage. He dropped two quarters into the newspaper machine, pulled out a paper and headed inside. He was surprised that there were so many patrons there at such an early hour and he avoided looking around because he just did not want to bump into anyone he might know. He was in no mood for idle chit-chat.

The server came by, placed  a menu on his table and asked, "Good morning, you having coffee?"

"Yeah, thanks."

"I'll be back for your order in a minute."

He smiled at her and opened the menu. Quickly he was adding numbers in his head. Dang, the skillet is $6.99 and coffee is $1.59, add in tax and that's over nine bucks. Two bucks for a tip and I just spent $11.00. The server returned and asked, "So, what can I get you?"

"I'm going to just have coffee today, okay."

He was on his way home by 6:30 and, in the light of the new day, noticed all the cars moving this way and that. He wished his truck was heading to a job like the rest of them. It was only his first day out of work and already he was feeling quite useless. When I get home I better get on the horn  and make some calls. Gotta find some work.  I know I can get something to make a few bucks.


Greg Margolese pulled up a little after ten. It was a brief visit. The guy never even got out of his truck. Bob walked over and handed him a check for $950.00. Greg looked at it, stuck it in his shirt pocket and said, "Thanks, Bob. Look, as far as what we talked about Saturday, right now I have nothing. I'm doing the repairs and maintenance myself trying to save some money. If something comes up or if I hear of someone needing help with something I'll give you a call. Don't worry, things will work out." The entire visit had taken about a minute and a half.

Back inside he and Tracey began to face their new reality. While at Carmine's Friday evening they had tallied up a personal fortune of $2650. On Saturday, Tracey had gone to the supermarket and spent $112.00 on food and other  items like toothpaste and toilet tissue, laundry detergent, shampoo, hand soap and a new filter for the air-purifier which was critical for Jake's asthma prevention. Jake's inhalor was $68.00 and Bob had put $30.00 worth of gas in the truck which had moved the needle a bit past the half-way mark. Add in the $20.00 they had "squandered" on pizza Friday, they were down to $770.00 and, besides the rent, had not paid a single bill. Three months earlier Tracey would have used a credit card to pay for some of these things but their three cards were maxed out and they were two months behind in payments already. The collectors were already calling several times a week.Tracey, a woman who managed money with unbelievable efficiency and had always seemed to be able to move the money exactly where needed keeping their finances in check, was overwhelmed. Truck payment of $278.00, electric bill of $276.00, cable and phone of $119.00, water bill of $64.00, car insurance of $158.00---that came to $895 leaving them negative $125.00 just to pay bills. Credit cards, yeah, right.

Bob, sort of in a daze, did not know what to do. Thank God Tracey began making an attempt to put some order into their financial chaos. She decided not to pay the car insurance, the cable bill and the water bill. She thought she could buy time with those creditors by calling and talking to them. Making the truck payment and paying the power bill would take precedence. That would leave them with $341.00 in their pocket. Tracey had forgotten one minor detail. If the truck payment was late and went delinquent into the following month the lien-holder would not accept one payment. They demanded that the account be brought current by the fifth day of the second month---or else.

Next time: Episode #6; Out of money