August 13, 2011

"Grippers" (how to get homeless without even trying # 9)

Episode # 9  The Home Visit  (click on the "Grippers tab and scroll down for the previous 8 episodes)

Their newly discovered sense of helplessness had Bob and Tracey drained and exhausted. They had $40.00 to their name, the electricity had been turned off, the inside of the house was hovering at about 90 degrees, the refrigerator was rapidly losing its coldness while the hot water heater was losing its hotness, the stove could not be used, and the anxious look on 12 year old Jake's face spoke volumes about their situation. Bob's family included a brother in North Carolina who was raising three young children on his own because his wife had passed away a year earlier from cancer and his mom and dad who had no other income except Social Security and had serious health issues. Up until six months earlier it had been Bob and Tracey who were helping them out.  Tracey was an only child and both her parents had passed away. The Sliders needed a break, a temporary reprieve, to help them gather their thoughts and breathe a bit. They received this from perfect strangers.

A man and woman from the St. Vincent De Paul Society at Sacred Heart Catholic Church came by to visit. Unpretentious, friendly, and not mentioning religion, they had managed to quickly put Tracey and her skeptical and defensive husband at ease. They managed to share some common ground about people and places in Pinellas Pines and even managed to have a few laughs together. The Vincentians were able to have the power restored by 6 p.m. and got a two week  extension on the water bill, guaranteeing payment if Bob and Tracey could not come up with the money. This technique helped Bob save face as he told them, "Don't worry, I'll have it covered by then. Thanks for backing me up. I really appreciate it."

The Vincentians left and Bob and Tracey began planning a huge yard sale for the coming weekend. Bob had posted signs in strategic locations around the neighborhood and by 7 a m. Saturday morning their front yard was filled with "stuff". They managed to take in over $1200.00. There was a trade-off however. Besides selling their sofa, two bicycles, two TV's and a computer desk plus a ton of lawn maintenance equipment, tools and clothes, and all sorts of housewares, someone had offered them $800.00 for Tracey's car, even with the blown fuel pump. They accepted the offer. They were able to pay the water bill, car insurance, the cable bill, phone bill and internet service and even took $150.00 and had their computer reformatted by their friend, Gary. They were good through June and into July. All Bob needed to do was to find some work so they could keep "above water".

Next time: Episode #10  Good News and Bad News