It’s true… I spent the weekend with a friend in AZ close to Fort Hauchuca. Sierra Vista, AZ to be exact. This is a friend I met when we were in the 6th grade in middle school. We’ve known each other for about 27 years. One of my oldest friends. Now, to give you some color, Sierra Vista is no NYC. Not by a long shot. In fact my gut tells me without Fort Hauchuca Sierra Vista, might just be a much smaller town.
When I got to Sierra Vista from Tucson, I met my friend at a restaurant and we promptly caught up over wings and beer. It was good to catch up. He’s one of those guys that is like a long lost brother to me. A good friend and confidant. When we get together it always reminds me of being in that 17 – 19 year old range regardless of the conversation.
Now to my point. My friend, who has been going through some financial hardship over the last year or two has made a hard decision. It is one that will affect him for the next 10 or so years, and it is also a decision that I think may also benefit him in the not too distant future. Before getting to that though, let me tell a bit of his story (I’ll keep it short). He got laid off about a year ago. He was making close to $30.00 per hour, refinanced his home a year earlier, had recently gotten promoted, and thought he had a good bead on things in this recession. He was fairly confident that things were going his way, despite the economic down turn. This was great, until about 90 days after his promotion, he was laid off with many others in his company. No severance package. Not good. He was just starting so save money, get caught up on bills, and the unexpected devastated him. He worked for a temp agency for a while, but of course that was not enough. Other jobs were hard to find, and he was stuck doing the temp work. It was part time at best, and not close to the rate he was making prior to being laid off.
Meet his roommate. His roommate is separated from his wife, and unable to find work for over a year after being laid off himself. He no longer has a car, borrows my friends car when he has to use a vehicle and I wondered while visiting how he helps to support his children. I met two of his kids this weekend. It is clear he is a great Dad with a good heart, struggling to figure it out and make something happen in his life. He’s not paying rent; cannot afford to, and my buddy puts no pressure on him because he “get’s” his situation. Although he wishes he this roommate had the money to pay him even a small amount. He let’s him live there because otherwise he may be homeless, and they are friends.
My buddy finally got hired, by the same company that laid him off. They are paying him just over half of what he was making prior to being laid off. I am told it is not a bad job for the area, and that he is lucky to even have it. I sat back and began to think. It occurred to me over my second or third beer that I am somehow out of touch with the “Middle America” or the American that is struggling to survive. I am living sort of a charmed life by comparison, “bitching” about my business travel that is too much, gaining weight because of the airport food, and here are my buddy, and his friend that are barely making ends meet. What am I? Some kind of asshole? I know that we live in these bubbles of existence, and sometimes cannot see the forest for the trees, but let me tell you, after examining the environment, the employment options in the area this weekend, things out there are worse than I had expected them to be. Much worse.
The decision: Because of my buddy’s financial situation, being laid off, and making half his past salary, he had fallen behind on some of his bills, including his mortgage. After several communications trying to work with his bank, they decided to forclose on him. He did the investigation and learned what it would take to get himself out of foreclosure. He was offered the money by someone (to borrow), but thought long and hard about it. He decided it was not worth getting out of hoc to owe someone else the money and eventually have to pay that back as well… It is not an insignificant number, and he tried numerous times to work with his financial institution. He is that kind of guy. I guess they just didn’t want to deal with it. I know my friend, and I can assure you it was not for lack of trying. So he decided not to fight anymore. He decided that it was time to simplify his life and let a monkey on his back go, partially by no fault of his own. After much discussion with him, I could not argue his decision. Throwing good money after bad, makes no sense when you are still in debt the same amount of money with what could be more constrained terms. We talked about it in depth several times over the weekend. I was politically correct in asking questions, I was VERY direct in asking questions. The bottom line, bankruptcy is on the horizon for him, but it pales in comparison to the stress of the debt he felt. I felt bad for him, I felt relieved for him. It was bittersweet for my childhood friend.
What I learned about us, however… While we remain very good close friends, it seems we are both of different environments. My friend, the not so urban dweller, and myself, the urban dweller. This comes with subtle differences in style, demeanor, etc. What he has on me, however is eight years of Army experience, wartime deployment, and a war veteran. I have the utmost respect for him for that.
My awakening: After 3 1/2 hour drive from Sierra Vista to Phoenix on Sunday, it hit me. I am so out of touch. I am an urban consumer. I work, I get a good paycheck, and I spend. The dichotomy of understanding my friends stress took a lot of time and I realized, I am so out of touch with this countries reality, it sickened me while I drove. I could not believe it. The things I bitched about happening in this country are happening to one of my closest friends. It sickened me, mostly because I felt like I had a good bead on things and the rug was pulled out from under me. How could I write about what I do on this blog and not REALLY understand the reality of things. Well, now I have an idea. I don’t think that I really understand, but have a new experience to reflect on, and something to look at more closely.
My thoughts: Prepping is essential. Prepping is essential to keeping yourself prepared for the future. My friend is not a prepper, he is a patriot. Soon his expenses will be different, and I promised myself to help educate him on prepping and realizing that he can prep inexpensively, and keep him prepped for personal disaster going forward. More importantly, I have learned that I do not know everything (again), and that this blog is not just about putting information out there, but it is about my learning experience as a prepper, being an economic neophyte, and to keep my ego in check. I am not that important in the grand scheme of things, and that personal situations are more fragile than I thought/think they are.
My point, well I forgot my point. To reiterate the title, which may be my point, “I am SO out of touch,” that it made me think so deeply I went into a depression in the past 48 hours about the future for my friend, our country, and all those that are and have tried to dig out of their personal SHTF situations, that I really do not know what to think about those situations that are in peril.
G-d Bless us, and America. It seems we all need it, even those with good heads on their shoulders that find themselves making personal decisions that were once thought only crazy…