Archive for January, 2013

A Week of “Lasts”: Hunkering Down Like a Hobo Hermit

It may come across as an odd confession…but…things have been going alright. Not great, but alright. That’s a dramatic improvement over the last year or so. For the first time ever, I’m at a job where I’m appreciated. Heck, I even got Employee of the Month. That’s never happened before. However, with all the modest good fortune floating around, I couldn’t help but wonder when the other foot would drop.

And it did.


One inconsequential morning, I went to fill up my gas tank. I handed the attendant my VISA, not thinking much of it. He returned a few seconds later with a, “This was declined.” Not an answer someone expects to hear at 6:30AM. The card still had a balance, so what was the deal?

I gave PenFed a call, and they informed me the account had been closed. Unfortunately, they couldn’t tell me why. What they could tell me was that a letter was sent out explaining the situation. I hopped online once I got home, and noticed the letter had also been sent electronically. The reason for the card closure?

My credit score had dropped. Significantly. From 750-something back in ’09…to somewhere in the 500s, now.

A panic attack ensued.

My first thought was to order a copy of my credit report. How on Earth could I let it get that low? Granted, my debt to income ratio was horrible, and – since 2010 – I’d had two bouts of unemployment. Not enough to warrant a score dip that large, or so I thought.

To add further insult to inquiry, the attempt to order my credit report via Equifax was ulcer-inducing. They kept directing me to the phone number, which then redirected me to their website – rinse, repeat. By the end, I was screaming at my computer so loudly, I scared my brother/roommate and his girlfriend out of the house.

Eventually, I calmed down long enough to find a number that worked. And received confirmation that it’d been sent. I also had time to reflect upon it. There was a time when I used to be pretty responsible with money. Hiccups – both personal and economical – curbed my fiscal fortitude, though. My debt level far outweighed my ability to pay things off. That and – truth be told – my spending was rampant. I also used credit cards way too much. My ability to debt-shuffle was “derp”-tastic at best.

I had to look no further than my $34 copy of Wheel of Time: A Memory of Light sitting next to me on the computer desk.

It was the last book in a series I had started when I was in high school. Only fifty pages left; I was almost done with that twenty-year reading journey. Still, it was an expensive purchase. One I couldn’t entirely justify.

In the midst of my financial credit crisis, I decided to read. Three hours later – while sipping an expensive pint of chardonnay barrel-aged Belgian-style double IPA – I finished that damn brick of a book. And felt both satisfied and melancholy at the same time. It ended perfectly; I couldn’t have thought of a better way to do it. Yet at the same time, with that ending, I realized something in me needed to end as well.

I stared at my pint, morose.

I wouldn’t say I’m an out-of-control drinker, but I do like my beer. Worse, I like expensive beer. If it has the words “casked”, “barrel-aged”, “oak-chipped” or “bottle-conditioned” in the title, I want it. That often presents a problem, though, since these special beers usually cost as much wine. On average, $12-$15 a bottle. And I was purchasing one or two of these a week.

My usual haunt for these purchases was a specialty beer shop in a neighboring burb. I had a lingering crush on the weekend bartender. I used my beer snobbery as an excuse to see her. This week, I decided to pay yet another visit, but resisted the urge to buy an expensive bottle.

A part of me started to think she was catching on to the fact that I liked her. She seemed kinda creeped out by my continued presence. I completely understood, too. As I exited the shop around 11:30 with a light rye-beer buzz, I realized…that’d be the last time I’d be in to see her.

That would also be the last time – for some time – that I’d buy beer there.

That would be the last time I’d go to a bar alone.

That would be the last time…

I have always been poor, but I’d never been loser poor. I always enjoyed beer, but I never drank alone. (Unless you count a pint or two after a rough day of work.) I’d always liked women…but never bartenders.

I was that guy. A sadder version of the sap I’d always been. With every good comes a bad, and I was doing nothing to improve upon it. The week wasn’t all bad, though. I still had my tea…yet even those had their epilogues. But that’s another story.

For the companion “steep story” to this entry, go HERE.

Monday, January 28th, 2013 Musings Comments Off on A Week of “Lasts”: Hunkering Down Like a Hobo Hermit

I work for tea money.


January 2013
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