Further along The Downward Road.

So I’m sitting here in the public library and someone’s talking way too loud.

I mean it’s the library, right?

I’m in the library to get ahold of some internet access as I’m not in that realm anymore at home. I’ve got a bunch of things to do on the infosuperhighway – most of which deal with trying to find some more money.

I’m applying for jobs. Home Depot, Kent, Atlantic Superstore, Sobeys. Trying to hit the places that have hours I can get at night. I can apply all these places online. Sending out some resumes too and trying to track down some freelance. It’s not going well in that department. In a weird movie-like scenario, I had managed to set up a meeting with some potential work and my boss found out about it and was a bit ‘concerned’ as it was legitimate work the company could be doing. I said I understood that, however, I’m sort of concerned that I won’t be able to eat pretty soon or keep my power on. She was sympathetic, however, I still ended up going to the meeting in an ‘official’ work capacity, as opposed to in a freelance one. It is readily apparent to me now that I will have to conduct my freelance ops from here on out in a more covert manner. The irony is that we (the company I work for) ended up passing on most of the work the client wanted done due to time constraints and the small piece we did do turned into a bit of a drag. Sigh.

We haven’t talked for awhile, you and I, so I’ll bring you up to speed. We last spoke on Thursday I believe. Well, Friday morning, my car wouldn’t start. The ol’ Subaru decided to have a bit of a fit. Already late to take Emma to school, I jumped in the van and off I went. Later that night, at home, Lyn and I scoped the weather and we were due to catch the edge of whatever tropical storm is hot right now, so I decided rather than trek out the next day in the fray to get Lyn’s scrip filled, I’d do it that night. So I took the van out and on the way home, lights started popping on all over the dash.

The ‘TCS’ light. Ugh.

Then the light that just has a picture of an engine on it. Never good.

This has happened before with our van a few months back. What happens is the transmission slips a gear, then the computer freaks out. Last time we had to have the transmission fluid changed and the computer reset. A $130 glitch. So now we’re relatively carless.

I’m thinking the problem with the Subaru may be that the battery is shot. Saturday morning, I’m up early and I pull the battery out, drive the van – GINGERLY – to the Canadian Tire and they check the battery. Checks out fine, which is really what I didn’t want, cause it means that God knows what could be wrong, but whatever it is it will take a dealer to figure it out.

Home I go.

Of course the understory to all this is that I had made a contact with my boss’s significant other, John, who is a contractor and told him I was looking for work – any. I figured he probably needed some grunt work done nights or weekends or whatever. I’d heard through her that he was interested and may have something this weekend, so I’d left him a message, but hadn’t heard anything. My fear of course was that I’d miss out on work with all the running around, or better yet, have to pass ’cause I either a. didn’t have a working car; or b. had to have one fixed. Nothing like begging for work and then being unavailable to come out the first time you’re called. That always makes a stellar impression. Luckily, it turns out he was hiding out all weekend and didn’t need me after all. He left me a note saying he would have something for me at a later date, so that’s promising.

I return from Canadian Tire and Lyn has been on the phones and has come to find out that not only is the Honda dealer not open Sundays (which I knew), only the parts dept. is open Saturdays (which is insane). You gotta love small town (back asswards) living.

Turns out the big wind and rain storm isn’t going to come until Sunday now.

Lyn did manage to tell enough of a sob story to get the guys at the Subaru dealer – who’ve been great in all my experience so far – to take me in on Saturday even though they’re booked. They’re open Saturdays. At least SOMEONE wants to make some money and earn my business. Another ironic point, I have an appointment with the Subaru dealer on Tuesday for an oil change and swap to the winter tires.

So I jump the Subaru with the crippled van and head off. Our Subaru dealer is in the sticks a bit, so I arrive and I wait. I’ve got nothing to do. Biggest drag is there isn’t even a Tim’s around so I can get a coffee. I can’t blame the guys – after all, I’m not even in the book for Saturday. Finally they come out and tell me that the starter tabs are shot. I guess there’s these little tabs in the starter that wear out. They showed ’em to me. Whatever. $130 and 4 hours later, I’m outta there. So much for my Saturday.

Saturday night tropical storm ‘whomever’ rolls in. The wind. The rain. Ya Ya. I’m a bit jaded having lived through northern New Brunswick winters now, I mean, wind and rain? We bar-b-que in that. Unfortunately the storm caught the vibe of my hubris and decided to punish me a bit. In the aftermath the next day we found in addition to the two USUAL spots where water comes in the basement, there’s now a NEW spot as well. In the final act of injustice, the storm broke our clothesline. It’s like it knew we’ve always gone to great measures to save money by drying clothes outside whenever possible. Damn.

Monday I take the van to the Honda dealer. They are skeptical that they’ll be able to get it in that day since I don’t have an appointment. I leave it anyway. I don’t like my Honda dealer. They finally get a look at it and tell me “The computer says something happened with the transmission that tripped the sensor.” They told me they couldn’t tell me what. they said it was running fine, and they could run a ‘deeper scan’ with the computer to determine if there was any issues, but they couldn’t actually now, ’cause they’d already reset the computer. They could run a deep scan if it happened again. Allow me to sum up what happened for you laypersons. I’ll speak in plain english instead of car-dealer speak:

“Yeah. Uh. We don’t know what the fuck happened with your car. We, uh, restarted the computer. Seems ok. If it does it again, or something even more fucked up happens, we’ll be able to tell you then. Bring it back then.”

I’m reasonably sure that all computers in cars are PCs.

The problem with deciding that you need to get a second job (or have a spouse go to work as well), is at that moment you decide it’s necessary, it’s already too late. I mean really, by the time you get a job, then work it a bit and get your first paycheck, man, that can be a month or more. Alot can happen in a month (dare I say a WEEKEND) that can change your financial situation.

I’m learning this now.

It’s weird how the dynamic has changed between Lyn and I in the past few weeks. It’s always there. The undercurrent. The money issue. It’s like the pink elephant in the room. We’re both constantly distracted and chewing on it. What else can we do? What can we cut? We start talking to each other mid-thought with ideas. “What if we…? What about….yeah, but…..”

Up until now, it’s always been the ‘extra’ stuff. We got rid of the internet. Cut back the phone. What’s really fucked is that we’d get rid of our satellite tv or the cell phones, but both are on contracts and they’ll actually charge me the remainder of the contract to get out. How insane is that? I feel like calling them and going, “I’M CANCELLING BECAUSE I CAN’T PAY MY FUCKING $55 A MONTH BILL. WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU WILL ACCOMPLISH BY CHARGING ME $350? Do you honestly think I’ll pay it? Do you think I’ll want to subscribe with you should I ever have any money again given your tremendous understanding?” Customer service is dead.

Worse than all that though is the extremely visceral experience of sitting in your living room, surrounded by all this stuff you’ve accumulated in your nice warm house and trying to understand how you got here. I’m not ignorant. I know I’m bad with money, but I’ve gotten MUCH better than I used to be since I had kids. Don’t send me your comments and emails with the whole ‘so many people have it worse than you’ bit, and the ‘you should be happy with what you have bit’, ’cause I know these things. I also know that I’ve never been in this dire of straits.

So you sit. And you think. And your mind follows the logical path of events. Then you get to the point where the tv isn’t enough. The phones aren’t enough. You start to think ‘Well, I could stop sending Emma to preschool, that’s $150 a month,’ and at the same time you’re thinking this, you’re dying ’cause you know that not only will that effect her developmentally, it will crush her little heart. She won’t understand it. Then you think to top it off, that you’re not really sure how you’re going to buy her a Christmas present this year, let alone presents, plural.

It becomes hard to even enjoy family time or have a laugh. There’s always the reality hanging over you that yanks at the reigns.

I think Lyn – perhaps subconciously, cause she’s always running mad with the kids, tends to shut it out a bit. I guess she keeps her mind busy and that helps her to keep going. Maybe cause I’m the ‘breadwinner’ and I have more quiet time at work and on the way home, I dwell more.

Last night I couldn’t muster much motivation to do anything. I was distracted, stressed, moody.

Lyn asked me what was the matter. That actually made me laugh.

3 replies on “Further along The Downward Road.”

  1. Kent,
    You implied you were “being punished” by a higher being -I doubt that. We do not know why God works the way he does but rest assured He knows what He is doing. Have you tried prayer? It won’t necessarily bring in money but it doesn’t cost either and it may help how you feel.
    Don’t take Emma out of school – if it really comes to that we should be able to help. As to Christmas presents, perhaps it is time to work on the concept of materialism – certainly harsh for little ones but they have to learn sometime. And, they are beautiful, happy, healthy children to be thankful for.
    It is always hard to see your children struggle, as it is for me with you, but I truly believe God has a reason for what He does and pray He’ll let us in on it soon!
    Love and prayers,

  2. Sometimes the internet does bad things to context.
    I really was being more tongue-in-cheek with the whole thing. I fully acknowledge that my predicament is due in no small part to some of my own planning (or lack/ill-type, thereof). Really, the only ‘higher power’ I was referring to was the storm itself.

    Someone needs to invent some sort of web tag or font treatment for >sarcasm.<
    I actually meant most this entry quite humourously, but reading back now I guess it does sound quite glum!? 😛

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