I met a friend for drinks and conversation last night. We had some catching-up to do, since we hadn’t really connected since November. At that time we were both in tough binds, though hers made mine seem like child’s play. Back then, she was packing up to move to a rented house because they had given theirs back to the bank. Her husband had been unemployed for nearly a year, and they just couldn’t make ends meet on what she was earning at her job and a small business she’d been running for some years. Her income was going down; his was non-existent, and so they had no choice but to use what money they had for a deposit on a rental and walk away from their house.
At the time, she considered herself one of the lucky ones, and was optimistic that this year would be different — that he would be employed again and they could start fresh from zero with hopes for rebuilding their future.
It hasn’t quite worked out that way. It took awhile, but toward the end of the evening she admitted that the bank had repossessed their car that day.
I know what it cost for her to tell me that. I know, because I’ve been in her shoes. It costs everything you have to swallow hard and tell someone else that you have no way to work on Monday morning and without your job your family will find themselves filing for welfare benefits to survive. (She didn’t say that, but by logical extension, it follows…) I think the only reason she did tell me was because I pushed her to do it. I could see stress all over her face and wanted to know what was going on.
Like a dork, my first response was “What are you going to do?” Yeah, duh. Like if she knew, she wouldn’t be stressed, right? Dumb response, but a typical one.
I drove her home, went back to my house and fumed.
What the heck kind of world are we living in where we, the people, bail out banks so they can turn around and show no mercy to anyone else? What world are we living in where solid, educated, responsible men and women can’t find a job? Forget those of us without the college diploma, we’d better just plan on freelancing or being self-employed, because our feet won’t even get in the crack under the door, much less in it.
I started hatching a plan in my head, but it was one that would require BigDog’s assent. I wasn’t sure he’d agree, but I told him the story anyway. Before I could finish it, he said “Why don’t we just give her the 2nd car?”
Yessss, I said inwardly. He read my mind, came up with the answer before I could suggest it.
So we did. I washed it, filled it up, topped off the oil and cleaned it out, drove to her house, handed her the keys and the pink slip and asked her to drive me home.
It’s not a great car. It’s old, lots of quirks and miles. But it’s great for local driving, which is what she needs, and it will hopefully tide them over until they can get back on their feet and working toward success.
The thing is, it wasn’t all that hard. It was more or less a no-brainer. We had something that was nice to have — a second car. She had no way to work, no prospects or money to get something to drive to work. BigDog and I both knew we could easily give up what was a convenience to meet a need, so we did. There’s nothing heroic or noble about it; it’s just practical and in these times, necessary. The only reason I’m writing about it at all is to encourage anyone who reads this blog to do the same.
We all have things we like having but don’t need. Others are in serious need. If we can find a way to give up things we don’t need to meet others’ needs, we’re on the way to finding our way out of this mess and learning that we are not islands.
Switching from “me” thinking to “we” thinking is worth considering. I found some good online resources (though I haven’t done any due diligence on them, so I’m not endorsing, just informing) to check out.
HelpRoot is a site where you can post needs, organize projects, and meet needs in real time. HelpOthers.org is a site where you can help someone anonymously, leaving a card behind to encourage them to pay it forward.
Or, you can talk to your neighbors and friends, and if one of them is in a bind because of this economy or their job situation, maybe you have something they need to tide them over until they start to get back on their feet.
If you do discover an opportunity and fill it or know someone who did, will you come and post your story here? I’d love to fill this blog with stories of people helping other people, on and off line.
- reflections of one another
- What Microsoft, Google, and Twitter should learn from AIG