My wife and I bought a car last week. It was nothing special. It wasn’t new, but it was recent.
It was a used car great shape and was we could afford it. That was the key point: afford. I realize that for some people buying a car is nothing to excite them.
I would imagine that people, such as Donald Trump, don’t even do it anymore. He probably has an assistant who handles such things. For my wife and me, it was a big deal.
You see, we’ve haven’t bought a car or made any large purchase for that matter in over a decade. Yes, you read right, more than ten years. The reason is simple enough: we’ve been members of the working poor for that long.
When the engineering company I worked for went out of business, I was unable to find regular work and I don’t just mean a full-time job. No, I mean I couldn’t get work in my profession, civil engineering.
There was literally nothing around in all of Central Florida. Many other engineering companies went out of business, too; those that remained had to make substantial cutbacks. The translation is no new hires.
That was when I turned to other lines of work. I became a stock boy at Wal-Mart working the graveyard shift, part-time, mind you. I worked the U.S. Census in 2010 and eventually I fell into bartending.
Although a fun and interesting jobs, I was never able to achieve full-time status at any of the places I worked; Lord knows I tried! At some resorts, I worked literally more than full-time hours, but that all-important distinction eluded me.
Yes, there are many instances where companies can do that. This is particularly true of the service industry. You see, they made sure the labour laws had plenty of loopholes in their favour.
Then, just this year, I made it back into engineering. The first time was a temporary job, part-time, but I didn’t mind. The pay was double what I made as a bartender and it afforded me the time I wanted for my writing. Although the job ended, it re-invigorated my confidence and I updated my resume, my engineering resume, and re-posted it on several job websites.
I got an email asking if I was interested in a drafting position. I wrote back that I was. I got a call, that most important of calls, asking me to come in for an interview.
The interview went well, remarkable well. How good? I had an offer the next day and started working early the next week.
My pay is great and, most importantly of all, it is a full-time position. This means full benefits. At some future time, when I get a cold or the flu, I will actually be able to take a sick day and not have to worry about losing wages.
It was that, since I had a decent income, we decided to buy a car and buy one where we’d actually have to make monthly payments. Granted, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal, but when you’ve been at the bottom for as long as we have, moving up the ladder of success a single rung is still a big deal.
I find it ironic that our ability to get further into debt is a sign of success; signing those papers was not without a degree of trepidation on my part. It was a big step. A step I wasn’t sure we were ready to take. I couldn’t help but think back to my father’s generation, who lived through the Great Depression and became the living embodiment of the saying: Once Burned, Twice Shy.
I have to wonder, what will the future say of the people who got through the Great Recession? If nothing else, maybe we’ll all be a little more frugal. I know I will!
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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