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…

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