Autumn

Autumn

Monday, October 31, 2011

Depression in a Conex Container

He claimed he just wanted to stop by and say hello and that he hadn't forgotten me. He had been a long time customer and I'd almost allowed the memory of him to fade. We sat and chatted. I asked about his family and he replied, "Well, Bubba, we're okay but life isn't good for us now."

"What's wrong," I asked.

"We're living in a Conex box behind my brother-in-law's house." His BIL lived several miles away in the country and the Conex container had been his BIL's catch all - a tool and storage shed.

I'll call him Bill which isn't his real name, for obvious reasons. He's married and has two young sons and a daughter. He went on, "Lost my job, which I believe you knew," I nodded yes, "then my wife lost hers and we tried, Stephen, we really did but we just could not find work."

It was a long story and I'm sure you've heard the details many times yourselves. The bills piled high, and they cut expenses where they could; first the cable, completely cut dining out, froze the credit card, sold their second vehicle, like that. Of course my service too. Hence the reason I hadn't seen him in almost a year.

He continued, "We tried to save the house. Went months without making our mortgage payments. Made all the attempts to work with the bank. Afterwards we (and here he stood and walked towards the window and stood there silent for a moment, shame) just walked away."

What does one say in a moment of pure sadness....I remained quiet.

It's times like this when I hate my profession. I've dealt with situations like this for years. My business is open to the public and has been for thirty years. I've made thousands of friends and acquaintances. I must simply deal with it, like this day a week ago. I've heard stories that would make your hair turn gray. So sad.

I knew what he wanted. I've had it happen so many times. I've never turned anyone away. So, I asked.

"Do you need contact numbers." My Rolodex is filled. I deal with professionals from all walks of life.

He turned, held his head down, and said, "If it isn't too much trouble."

"Not at all, Bill. Give me a minute."

I came back into my office and flipped through my numbers. Choose a couple I felt might be of help and wrote their numbers down. Sadly, and I hate to write this, I knew it was a lost cause. The thing is I wanted to hand a bit of hope, a moment of happiness to this poor man.

He'd held his composure well. So I ventured a couple more questions. How was living in a Conex compared to an apartment? How did his children cope with the living conditions?

He explained how his BIL had cut a hole and fit a window air conditioner in its side. They had power and a few cots. His brother-in-laws' home was small as they'd also taken in his mother-in-law. Many nights the little girl slept in the house. Meals were inside the main house too. They had a portable toilet. It was awful, he said. He faked a smile and said, "But, it's only until...."

I faked a smile back.


We talked for a few more minutes and I promised (and I did) I'd phone ahead and 'put in a good word.' He left in a far better frame of mind than when he walked in my shop.

I did say a quick prayer for him and his family. They're good people. Yes, I do feel they created many of their problems by living far above their income. Many do and I shall not pass judgment upon these poor people. I mean, after all, there but for the grace of our good Lord go I.

Stephen
 

31 comments:

  1. My parents married in 1933. They lived in a chicken coop that they cleaned out. My grandparents 7 children and their spouses and children all worked together to make it through the great depression. The man in your story is lucky to have his BIL.

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  2. If things get as bad as some seem to think they might get, this man might be one of the lucky ones. But, wow, what a sad story.

    I've seen YouTube videos where people made them into weekend retreats and such. They looked pretty neat, but this poor soul and his family was forced to move into one. Sad.

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  3. It is good of you to try to help. I firmly believe that we ALL need to help each other when we can. It is a shame that we have come to this, in this country. And a lot of us know it will not get better any time soon.

    I fill that all we can do is spread the word, and if asked, show people how to prepare.

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  4. oh Stephen - my heart breaks to hear of you having to deal with this all of the time. it is soo sad. but as Matt said - if it gets worse - he will be considered lucky to have such a BIL.

    i want everyone to know that if they need a place - they can come here. we have 10 beautiful acres of land - and anyone that is willing to work and participate in building a community now, and in the future, is welcome. my email address is kymberzmail@gmail.com

    anyone who wishes to contact me, can. please do.

    my dream is to provide a safe haven for those brave enough to come. please contact me if you fit the bill.

    Stephen - thanks for being such a beautiful soul. i know it is heart-wrenching to deal with these situations but you always do the right thing. that is why we all admire you so much. and love the example that you set.

    a leader is the one out-front, setting the example, for everyone else to follow. and you, Sir, dear friend, are a leader!

    thank you Stephen! thank you on behalf of everyone that you have provided a tiny bit of hope to.

    your friend,
    kymber

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  5. heartbreaking - this man sounded like he really tried.

    i'll keep it simple - you gave him some hope, you never know what might come of it.

    when someone is lost, that is the BEST thing you could do, i'm more poud of you than ever.

    your friend,
    jambaloney

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  6. God bless you Stephen and God bless "Bill" and his family.

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  7. Stephen, even thou we have never met I feel you are a great person. I feel for Bill and his family. I fear this is just the beginning of a long road for many in this country.

    I heard from a friend in PA. He works his GF is out of work and having a hard time find work. He said his CC are almost maxed. he was closed to being debt free until she lost her job.

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  8. I would like to echo kymber's sentiments and say you are a beacon to these people. May your light always burn brightly my friend.

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  9. mmasse - i always enjoy your comments on all of the different blogs that i follow. you show up on several of them and always have relevant things to say. and i think it is time for you to start a blog of your own...i think there are more than a few of us who would enjoy your insight, wisdom and knowledge.

    your friend,
    kymber

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  10. Stephen,
    Whenever life gets hard and I can't see the good in humans anymore, I read and re-read your blog. If God stops by and asks you to build an ark, let me and kymber know, because you are the last of the good souls, and we want a ride on your boat.

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  11. There are so many that are just a paycheck away from the same situation.

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  12. To all my friends above. I shall do something different this evening and reply to you all at once...first, I wrote this as a sign of the times, to show how different our country is as we all live in this mini-depression. I am no different than each of you. I am only human with a very big soft heart for those down trodden. Trust me, I can be as big an ass as the next person. Sweet Wife says I'm just a soft touch. Perhaps that's true but I like to believe I deal with people on the level of my Christian values, not that I'm a standard of Biblical teachings.
    I do appreciate your kind words...you each humble me. Thank you very much. God bless.

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  13. hey Stephen - most of these people commenting here are people i admire and respect...and i would holler my head off to them if i needed help - as i know that i could trust them to come running.

    Mudbug - my goodness you are sooo my brother and it has taken me this long to find you! oh Stephen - i gotta get mushy and tell him how much i want him in my family - for real!

    i love your blog Stephen. i love all of the people that i have met here. i love that you are such a humble and wonderful example to follow.

    your friend,
    kymber

    and like my brother says - please let us know if you are chosen to build an ark. me, jambaloney and my brother will be there to help you. and that's all that Noah needed eh?

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  14. Stephen, I've been enjoying your blog for a while now, but this is the first time I've been moved to comment.

    Your last paragraph mentioned Bill and his family living above their means, and while you may mean that they were spending more than they could reliably take in, I'd like to point out that in order to live in any form of civilization today, you'll be living above your means.

    I once sat down many years ago and determined how much money it would cost me to simply live each month if I were to suddenly lose my income. The answers are frightening. Even cutting every expense that you can humanly cut, you still end up with costs for food, clothing, and merely living that are beyond what people a couple of hundred years ago would think of as a fortune. Very few people today can afford to purchase enough property to grow everything they need to eat in a year, much less provide for the other basics.

    I see where kymber has offered to bring people into his community, but realistically, is ten acres enough land to grow the necessities?

    We are hopelessly lost in an intertwining tangle of reliance, where no one person or small group of people are able to truly shut out the outside world, without reverting to essentially a third-world standard of living.

    So, yeah... we're all living above our means. And it'll hurt if we ever have to stop.

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  15. Phillip, let me tell you about kymber... He's a really smart dude. When he talks we listen....

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  16. Kymber, thank you sweet lady. So often you leave me at a loss for words.

    Phillip, thank you for the kind comment. But,I respectfully disagree with a portion of your comment. It is possible, even in today's society, to live well within your means. A frugal lifestyle is within every persons reach. If you spend more than your current income you are indeed living a life doomed to failure. Again, I respectfully suggest most people today fail to understand the difference between a need and a want. Thank you, again, for your input.

    Matt, sex change for kymber? Sneaky isn't she...

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  17. I'm lucky I had my own personal disaster about 4 years ago that almost killed me and I became 100% disabled and honestly I thank God it happened it truly was a blessing in disguise. I woke up and got to work on prepping on SSD, got cheap and mostly out of debt. I think I live a good life I'm not living a Spartan existence at all. I lived 2 months on my preps to pay a big vet bill so I know my basic system works. I live on about $1100.00 per month I make my house payment, I don't get Government assistance besides my disability check. I have Sat TV, a phone, internet and good food to eat. I can make my own bread and pasta and beer. I can, freeze, dry and store food on sale. I don't go out but I'm having a great time teaching my neighbors how to make bread, canning ,beer and entertaining at home. I know it's just a matter of time and my SSD and vet benefits will be cut. Right and wrong does not matter this is reality and math. So next year I'm going to work on building my silver and paying off my home. Will I get it done, I doubt it. But with God's help I've already accomplished several things I would have said were flat out impossible to get done. So I will try and pray that it is enough.

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  18. kymber - Your kind words shame me. I am still playing with the making my own blog. Mostly because I selfishly enjoy reading others experiences.

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  19. Good Post Stephen. Yep there for the grace of God for sure. All of us.

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  20. Stephen, my hat goes off to you for handling the situation as you did. Great work my friend.

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  21. Adventures, I admire a person with the life under such control...thank you.

    mmasse, I agree with kymber, write a blog. You'd be very good at it...thanks.

    PioneerPreppy, Thank you, my friend.

    John, thanks...wasn't much else I could do..it was in God's hands.

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  22. mmasse - i pride myself on calling a spade a spade. i think a lot of us would enjoy your blog. that's just the truth.

    your friend,
    kymber

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  23. Stephen,
    Once again, YOU, are the guardian angel.
    for many....

    God Bless you and yours!
    Job well done!

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  24. Matt, buddy - thanks for the cover - bahahahaha!

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  25. Heh, I wondered when you'd see that.

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  26. I really have to disagree with the comment about having to have a lot of land to grow enough food for a year. It is possible to grow enough on an acre or two to sustain a family of four for a year. You have to do spring and fall plantings and successive plantings but it can be done. You dont have to go back too many years to realize how much waste we produce. Our grandparents and greatgrandparents didnt waste anything and it is possible to create a lot of the things you actually NEED to survive not want but need. Some people havent figured out the difference between the two. Hope your friend Stephen can make it through the winter, hear it's going to be a rough one for us all. Just gotta keep praying things turn around.

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  27. Denise, I so agree and didn't want to stomp all over Phillip's comment. Raised bed intensive gardening can produce tons of food for a family of five to ten with much strain. Ten acres, heck, you've got a truck farm.
    Thank you for the kind comment.

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  28. Excuse me, meant to write, 'without much strain.'

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  29. Look closely at a few of the pics of our home over on my blog, it is built around a small 20ft conex... only takes a lot of work, and a lot of imagination, these containers can be turned into nice homes.

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  30. KingAzJay, you have a nice setup...these poor people are living in a standard container without the comforts I'm sure you've placed in yours. It has no insulation and only a power cord for electricity. Thank you for the nice comment. Good to see you again.

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