My Debt Sucks Major Ass Story #1, Continued!
So we left off in my last post on Why Debt Sucks 1.0, all about how I got kicked out of my apartment with negative 40 grand to my name while jogging, and no access to my wallet unless I somehow came up with nonexistent cash to pay a lockout fee, while hoping my ex-boyfriend didn’t call the cops, since I wasn’t technically on our apartment lease, but I digress. (Yes, I needed better taste in boyfriends in the early aughts. I had very, very bad taste in boyfriends 18 years ago when this all happened. I know, you do not need to point this out. Don’t worry, I eventually wised up in that department). And since I didn’t even have the cash to call the landlord to get me access to my own freaking wallet (and this isn’t even the worst part of the story), I had very, very limited options. Here are a few I seriously considered:
- Panhandling. I actually tried this one, but apparently nobody gives money to random semi-attractive blonde twentysomething women wearing jogging suits, especially if you happen to get kicked out an apartment in a gentrifying neighborhood. We do not look scruffy or poor enough. And I was not prepared to do the other thing that attractive blonde women sometimes do in exchange for cash—yet. (See No. 4). Plus it was winter and I didn’t have my coat with me, just a jogging fleece, and it had started getting really cold. Panhandling is pretty hard work in the Upper Midwest during January. (Lots of risk, little return).
- Calling my dad collect on a pay phone and ask him for emergency money. This happened long enough ago that there were still functioning pay phones on the street. But my dad and I were kind of not speaking at this point in history. Suffice to say that I had run that well dry long before this incident occurred. Being a kid from a nonfunctional broken home and all that.
- Scrounge around on the sidewalk looking for emergency money. I did this one too. I found a quarter. A quarter was not going to solve my problem.
- Ask my friends for emergency money. This was problematic for all sorts of reasons. One, it was 2001, right after 9/11, in a large Midwestern city where the economy had collapsed, and everybody else I knew was also unemployed and/or marginally employed and/or broke. And I did not have a cell phone. (It was 2001). (And the only quarter I had on me had to be used to call the landlord.) And while I had no issues borrowing debt to pay other debt (also known as Robbing Peter to Pay Paul), I still was in possession of enough morality to not drag my friends into my debt addiction. (Yet. I would get there before rock bottom.)
- Engage in prostitution. Yes, I did seriously consider this. For about eight seconds. But I could not go there. I was raised a good Catholic and the guilt would have killed me. However, I had gone out on dates with guys who had money in the past, even if I didn’t like them very much, mostly because I liked how they bought me dinner, but…. (Okay. Yeah, I get it. Sort of the same thing, but not. Let’s not discuss that right now.)
After about 45 minutes had passed out on the street with no money and no access to my apartment, I was getting cold and hungry. (Hey, I had just jogged four miles, it burns calories. Plus I was weak, I admit it). I did not have a lot of options. I had gotten myself into a ridiculous situation, what with the unstable employment, and the bad boyfriend, and the blowing money on higher education (and shopping, and partying, and living it up in an expensive city, but that will be covered later on when I talk about my former shopping addiction, in another post).
The fact was, though, I had gotten myself into this mess by my addiction to debt. Debt had eaten up all of my resources, killed my ability to save (which led to yet more debt) and caused enough financial and emotional strife that I moved in with a less-than-ideal boyfriend (well to be fair, Ex-Boyfriend Locker-Outer-Dumper-Asshole really should not ever be in the same zip code as the word “ideal”) in order to afford rent.
Debt. That was why I was in this ridiculous situation despite having a graduate degree from an Ivy League school and some decent jobs when I wasn’t laid off. Debt.
So what did I decide to do to get myself out of this situation? I would get out of it by getting into more debt, of course. (Hey, nobody said this post was about How To Get Out of Debt, Fast. It’s about Why Debt Sucks, Part 2 of Many).
There was a pawnshop across the street from where I was standing that also did weekly payday loans. I didn’t have ID or a wallet on me, but I had an amethyst-and-10K-gold ring on my right hand that was worth something. I headed over there to see about converting jewelry on my body into cash so I that could get enough to pay the ex-landlord a lockout fee to get access to my freaking wallet so I could get some ID, and then maybe use my ID to inquire about a payday loan. (Mind you, I did not have a steady job at the time, rendering my ability to get a payday loan kind of, um, not legal, but—well, there were ways around that, I’d discovered).
It only gets worse from here. (More to come, folks. Stay tuned).
Here’s the moral (I will be repeating this across multiple posts): Debt is a drug, just like cocaine. People get addicted to it. The only way to overcome an addiction is to decide that the pain of doing it is worse than the pain of stopping. Most people don’t get that far.