Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A story


He was a happy guy. Not much bothered him, mostly because not much made sense to him. He didn't let details drag him down and he was more than happy to let others make decisions for him. His outlook on life boiled down to not sweating the little stuff, and by God, he was going to apply that to every aspect of his life.

In 2001, he started a new job. It was a pretty big job with a pretty big company. He enjoyed the job, worked with most of his friends and had all he could need. Life was grand. He enjoyed his job so much, that a handful of months after starting the job, he went to his boss and said, "Ya know, I really don't need one-thousand dollars a month for my salary. Why don't ya just pay me nine hundred a month. I have all I need and you could spend that better than I could." His boss was confused. No one had asked for a pay decrease. His boss encouraged him to re-think things, "You may not need this one hundred now, I know you have a good chunk in savings, but don't you have some repairs on your house or someone in your family who needs some help with medical bills or education?"

But the man, in his typical easy-going self said, "Nope. It's all good. I don't need more than what it takes to get by day to day. Keep it. Enjoy it."

So instead of $1000 a month, the man made $900 a month. And he was happy. His boss was happy to have a little extra in his pocket, but still felt a tad uneasy.

Then, several months later, a horrible thing happened. Violence like he'd never seen took place within his life and it shook him to the core -- emotionally, structurally, financially. Not only did this event cost lives and physical losses, it created a financial burden on him.

He had new expenses associated with the tragedy. And for the first time, he wasn't happy. He was shocked and sad and ANGRY. He wanted revenge and decided to go after the people who perpetrated the violence. And that cost money. But because he was living month to month, after asking for a pay decrease, money was tight.

But he was still angry and not finding the perp so decided to take out his anger on another person. This other person was a real asshole, to be sure, but was an empty target of the man's rage. And acting on his rage cost the man even more. More that he didn't have, after asking for the pay decrease.

His boss went to him and begged him to take a pay increase, "You need this money to fight your battles. Take it, please. Your family needs to you have this money." But the man declined.

Then the man remembered his boss once asking if someone in his family needed help with health care. Yes, he did have a grandmother who was having a hard time paying for prescriptions, so he decided to start paying for her medicine, at full cost. Again, he didn't have the money for it. And again, his boss offered -- and was rebuffed -- a raise.

All of this added up and he had no choice to charge these expenses to his credit card. He was only able to make the minimum payments each month, so his interest was stacking and piling and mounting.

In the meantime, he sent out generous Christmas gifts to friends and family, trying to cover his financial stress with gifts.

And then his bank was robbed and all the money he had access to, and his bosses money, was stolen. It was going to take time to recoup the money, so for a short time, he wasn't going to get paid. This created a financial disaster he never saw coming. His mortgage was due and he couldn't pay it. His credit card bill was due and he couldn't pay it. His boss came to him and said, "Some of my wealthy investors have cash-on-hand and I could ask them to help fund a raise for you." Again, the man said no.

He was so upset. So frazzled and unsure of what to do. So he went for a long drive to clear his mind. He wasn't happy anymore, he was feeling so low that he just couldn't figure out how to resolve the situation. And his damn boss wouldn't stop bugging him about a raise. He started thinking about his boss and got so angry that his boss would dare question his finances and try to give him a hand-out. The rage grew and the next thing he knew, his uninsured car was wrapped around a tree. He felt severe pain in both legs and arms. They were all broken.

A passer-by found him and called 911. An ambulance came for him and took him to the nearest hospital.

Not only did he not have car insurance, he didn't have health insurance. The car repair and medical bills were going to hurt as much as the four broken limbs.

His injuries required immediate surgery and a wonderful doctor, a patient and wise man, operated quickly and with the best information he had at the time. It would take a few days to know if there were any unseen injuries and infections. But the doctor stayed by the man's side, watching closely, thinking about six months out, one year out, ten years out. He knew the injuries would take years to fully heal. There would be financial, emotional and physical burdens on the man. But, for the man to recover and get back to work, the doctor had to prescribe therapy and pain medication. And, possibly, more surgeries.

And all of that cost money.

When it came time to pay the bills, the man grew furious with the kind doctor. He refused to pay the bills and ranted and raved to his boss about the greedy doctor who wasted and spent on frivolous surgeries and therapies. The man didn't think it was HIS fault or responsibility that the doctor chose the procedures he chose. And now that doctor was wanting to recoup his payment.

The man's boss told the man, "But the doctor was saving you from yourself. Why can't you just accept a raise and take care of all that YOU chose to spend? Your choices led you here. Your choices have created interest on debts that were unnecessary debts. I offered you ways to fund all the things you wanted but you refused. And now you are angrier at the doctor than you are at yourself? This isn't right."

But the man refused to listen. He refused to accept personal responsibility. He refused to acknowledge that his choices, all along, led him to this place and only he could have made choices differently.

And instead of taking the time to reflect and find ways to make amends, and still refusing to accept a salary increase, the man sat down in front of the T.V. and had a cup of tea.

And still he sits.

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