Wednesday, January 14, 2009

To Bail or Not to Bail

There is an irony that those giant corporations receiving help from our government are not so willing to help me, a lowly citizen. However, taking full responsibility for my dilemma, I can see deeper reasons for the loss of my truck and the consequences I am about to suffer.

Last month, with temperatures below zero and in a hurry to my new job, I drove off without properly warming the engine. Two miles onto the highway, an unusual rattle exploded quietly and the truck rolled to a stop dead. The sluggish oil had caused the engine to seize.

With no cash to spare for the expensive repair, I relied on the wondrous help of friends and family to borrow another truck and eventually rent a little car while my Trickster resorted to old habits of creative financing schemes to buy repairs and the truck itself. Failing all that, he bought some plain old time, relishing the holidays and the snow conditions, half-pretending the problem did not exist.

My credit and resources are completely squandered. As the auto-maker in question and the various banks have appealed and received help from us to bail them out of their past behaviors, they are not willing to take further risks on me. Today, it seems, I have no alternative but to let them take the broken truck and all parties suffer the cost (me emotional, them financial) of further litigation.

It is easy to point a wagging finger at large corporations and blame the faceless rich executives who run them. A long rant against Big Business stomping on the Little Joe seems entirely in order, except that it is actually less important (certainly less productive) than turning that finger around to point straight at me.

I am the man who, for so many complicated, justifiable, and sometimes commendable reasons, day in and day out made the decisions that squandered those resources and integrity. Time and again, at a crossroad between taking a job or leading my own crew, unbounded optimism always chose the riskier venture. Even having taken four jobs over the years, three ended in bankruptcies, providing “golden” opportunities for me to leap again.

All I wanted was to provide a modest healthy lifestyle for my family, but my downfall has been a complicated confusion of cart and horse, prioritizing lunch dates over site inspections, or making dinner instead of a phone call, never finding the proper balance that could accomplish both without harming either.

Years ago, I paid for and ignored advice to cut my losses, ski out of the bumps and take a smoother line. At that time, bankruptcy was anathema, an idea as inconceivable as harming a child. Today, I hand over my truck with a final shrug of acceptance that my mistakes have a terrible cost, but that redemption may be found by making the changes truly necessary to avoid repeating the pattern of those mistakes.

So I “let go, let God,” as my sister keeps advising. The truck is the final salvo on a business that has not served me well. I await word on several applications for office jobs in and out of construction, and invite work and play more suited to the passions that burn at the center of my core.

My father has faithfully and optimistically given me more bailouts than I deserved as I blindly continued on my path of (de)construction. As we talk more openly these days, we slowly learn that love has less to do with the dollars, or imitating his successes, than with sharing our hearts, our hopes, and facing our fears, living honestly and authentically, a lesson I pray I now model better for my own children.

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Zannah said...

As one of your children (the oldest and wisest, of course :) ), I can say you have taught us those lessons. I do try to live "honestly and authentically". I have hit bumps in the road, I am broke and unemployed, but I have never seen you give up and that is the most important lesson you taught me. If my dad can survive all the BS he has faced, and still smile and tell me it will be ok, then I know I can make it too. Thank you for your lessons and keep them coming!

Laurie said...

I am thinking a lot lately (which can be a dangerous thing, I know) and wondering with you , with me, with most everyone in the world, if we have misplaced our priorities. We are concerned with lessening our discomfort, with me depression and anxiety, with you the money issues, with both of us living authentically giving in to our passions. What if we looked at those and wondered what is the bigger battle going on here? What should our first passion be? what is the one thing, that if we pursue that, the depression, the money, wouldn't matter so much. I am wondering if we lived our lives with pursuing God being our first priority, the other things would lose their negative impact on us. One thing God promises is to use all the bad crap for good. Could the good be that by dipping us into the crucible of life, he is refining us to be better people who would be able to love him more deeply? Would he see all of this as a small price to pay for a closer relationship with him? I hope I don't come across as a wacko but we are thinking 2-D when our struggle may exist in the 3-D. Just a thought.

mberenis said...
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