Tag Archives: credit

Why Do I Have To Be The Strong One?

One of the things I miss about childhood is knowing that no matter what happened, my mom would take care of me. If I needed money for something she would always find it. I never really knew how bad or how tight finances were because Mom spoke mostly in vague and generic terms. Now I’m the adult. I have two grown kids and a wife. The daughter is 19, but while technically grown-up, has never had to deal with the grown-up world on a true one on one basis. She has had her own problems that she has had to deal with (after deciding that she was all grown up at 18), but Mom and Dad have always been there to catch her when she faltered.

When my daughter moved out (okay, ran off) in mid September of 2011 to go live with her then boyfriend and his parents, she learned that things weren’t as bad at home as she thought they were. Apparently we were horrible monsters because we did things like make her do her homework, go to school, clean her room, wash the dishes, and take care of the pets. Six months later she was 5 months pregnant and pretty much begging to come home. We took her back with open arms, but at the same time the wife and I had finally found the perfect comfort level. We had all the bills under control. We enjoyed each other’s company. Now we had another mouth to feed and another person to add back into our personal dynamic. It was hard, but we managed.

A month after this happened I found out that I was losing my job. I was given two years to find another spot to land in the company or be unemployed. At 47 I did not need to be unemployed, so I took a much more physical job than the one I had. The other option was to try and get a job with more stress or one that would likely be abolished in a future round of budget cuts. My schedule changed, but I assured everyone that we would be okay. I would actually end up making more money per paycheck.

In July my granddaughter was born. I love her dearly, but I was also faced with another human being that ultimately I would end up being responsible for taking care of. My daughter would look after her and my wife would make sure she was fed and clothed and clean (tasks my daughter still has difficulty with performing for herself), but I would have to work to pay for her food and her clothes. My daughter originally planned to breast feed exclusively. That soon changed to occasionally and was eventually supplanted entirely by bottles of formula. Formula is not cheap.

Her husband (they were married in March, but he is still only 17) moved in around October and we also started moving around that time. They lived in the old house while we lived in the new house, and I paid for the utilities on both houses. In December my son and his wife moved into the old house and my daughter and her family moved in to our new house. It’s a long complicated game of musical houses, don’t ask.

So around this time we’re trying to move, trying to get set up for Christmas and Thanksgiving, and keep everything going when my paycheck gets screwed up. In my old position I was responsible for making sure all the employees in my unit got paid. In the new position I have to hope that the supervisors remember to put in things like paid leave. Needless to say, one of them didn’t.

My health also decided to start really giving me problems. My blood sugar would spike or would bottom out and my asthma became more debilitating than it had been in years because I was getting into so much dust, and dirt, and pet odors during the move all while exerting myself physically and then headed to work where I would perform even more physical lifting and loading.

Here we are now in February and I am still trying to recover financially from two screwed up checks, holiday expenses, and feeding a family of five. Today my blood sugar spiked high. I was shaking. I couldn’t function and had to call off from work. I ended up sitting in a recliner and sleeping most of the day. When I was awake, I was silently fighting the urge to break down and cry. I know my life isn’t nearly as bad as so many other people’s. I know we will eventually get things straightened out. I know we will eventually get moved, get the kids into their own place, and get a quiet and restful home life, but right now all I can think about is why do I have to be the strong one? Why do I have to put on the brave face and not let anyone know how bad I’m hurting? How did Mom handle things like this and make it look so easy?

The Way We Were

One of the reasons I started this blog was to talk about what it was like being a child in the late sixties/early seventies. Today’s kids are used to going to the grocery store, scanning their frequent shopper card, and then paying for their purchase with a credit or debit card. When I was a kid you didn’t need a frequent shopper card to get the sale price or earn bonus discounts. The sale prices were clearly posted if the store hadn’t already reticketed all of the sale items with a sale price sticker. Oh, and everybody got the sale price, not just the shoppers with the card. After you checked out and paid with cash, the cashier would hand you a receipt and a handful of either Top Value or S&H Green Stamps. These sticky little pieces of paper were collected into a book which you could take to a special shop that would convert your stamps into a gift based on the value of the stamps you had accumulated. You could get a lamp or a toaster or a table. If you saved up enough you could get larger items as well.

By the time I was a kid, payment was definitely by cash. There were a few people who used checks, but they were few and far between in WV. Credit cards hadn’t arrived yet in any real force either as far as I recall. Mom got her check, cashed it, and paid for everything with cash. If we bought something by mail, we got a money order. The thing is, twenty years earlier, Mom would have simply walked into the locally owned grocery store, gathered her items, and the store would have added everything up and put it on her bill. When Dad would get paid, they would go down to the grocery store and pay their bill. Can you imagine doing that today? Sure a few rural Mom & Pop stores will let their regulars run a tab, but try getting Walmart or Krogers to let you leave without anything but a verbal promise to pay on check day. There’s one other big difference I’ve noticed as well. Back then when the shopper told the shopkeep that they would pay them on payday, that bill was the first thing those people took care of. I watched two stores in Gandeeville go out of business last year partly because of unpaid bills from regulars they had let run up a tab.

Another major change in shopping from when I was young involves the hours of operation. Most stores were not open on Sundays. No grocery stores, no department stores, no gasoline stations. The only exception might have been a drug store. People were expected to be in church on Sunday morning and visiting with family or relaxing at home the rest of the day. If you wanted to go out, you could go see a movie. By the time I really started paying attention, there were a few additional stores open. I remember going out to eat at BBF or Burger Chef on Sunday afternoons before or after seeing a movie. Teays Valley was one of the final holdouts on the Sunday business hours. They enforced these “blue laws” well up into my grade school years. What changed their minds? Hecks opened a store and wanted to open it for business seven days a week. I have been told that quite a bit of money was spent in getting the city to change its mind. However it came to pass, once the genie was out of the bottle, Sunday just became another day of commerce. People talk about the drop in church attendance and always want to point to taking prayer out of the schools. I think the real reason is they gave people a choice of things to do on Sunday. If the only places you could go to get out of the house were church and the houses of family members, you went to church and visited with the aunts and uncles.