Middle-Aged and Destitute


Sunset from our front porch.

(Part Two)

After some thought I realized that I while I may be staring homelessness in the face, I am not young any more.     While a  “Girl’s Guide’ has some useful information and is well written but I simply am not a girl any longer.   I’ve got some different issues.  This is not a total disadvantage.  I do have some years of experience to rely upon.  Yet, for the most part, my age is a huge disadvantage for the following reasons:

1.) Employers avoid hiring people in my age group.   Out of hundreds of resumes and applications I have received a total of 5 responses: one phone call (a preinterview) and 4 generic e-mails thanking me for my time but . . .”we’ve hired someone else.”

2.)  We are still reeling from our loss.  At one time, about a decade a go, I was a full-time mom.  My husband had a good job.  We enjoyed benefits.  We looked forward to our retirement and a nice pension to supplement Social Security.  We never expected my husband to lose his job and eventually his pension due to upper management who gave themselves golden parachutes filled with money but bailed out after ruining our futures and the future pensions of people like us.  We took a huge hit.  To expect to regain what we lost in our life times is a fantasy that we can’t afford.  We are struggling to accept a life and a retirement that looks bleak.

3.)   We have less time to repair or recover from our loses.  Death’s door is a lot closer.  The math is so simple, I can do it.  Time isn’t on our side in terms of new careers or recovering from our losses and repairing credit, etc.    Many people have encouraged me to return to school and use some of my talents.  (Apparently, I’m not utilizing them now.)  What they don’t realize is that I have researched this option and it is a financial impossibility.  My undergraduate degree disqualifies me from the programs that would benefit me.

If money were the only criteria of self-worth, I’d be in a world of hurt.  Poverty is a ‘hurt locker.’    This last week, I’ve taken a mental vacation and allowed myself to mourn the losses of the last few years.  I took lots of naps.  I watched mindless TV.  I wrote.  I cried a tear or two.  It’s felt good to admit that there have been losses and it’s normal to feel sad as a result.

Just like me, sadness is getting  old.  I’m ready to come back fighting. . . well, at least metaphorically, with a return of some of my spunk.  I got a glimpse of it the other day, when I decided to get back in the game. (Sorry for the italics.
Due to circumstances beyond my control they just appeared.)

 Just for the sport of it, I picked up the phone when our mortgage holder called.  Some days are just “devil may care and full of moments like this.” The bank has been calling every 20 minutes for some time now.   B-A-N-K, is my new four-letter word.  One should never use it in polite company.

In the beginning, I talked to the B-A-N-K.  It didn’t take long to learn that  the B-A-N-K will say anything to get our money.    We caught them in so many lies we can not trust any voice over the phone.  We talk to them, ask for alternatives, fill out pages of paperwork, spend $50 on fax fees, and receive a rejection after months of delays.

The B-A-N-K will agree to apply our payment to the mortgage owed but won’t.   Several months later,  we were hit with late fees and a higher mortgage payment.   The money that we sent was sucked into the black hole of interest and fees.   Even though we were told it would be applied to the mortgage and that it would “show good faith on our part.”   Good faith ends up costing us more than it is worth.  We feel like fools.

The phone calls begin again.  The B-A-N-K  tells us how much we owe and asks when they can expect payment.   We explain the situation.    They note the call in the computer and the next day they call again, with the same info, asking for the same amount, noting it in the computer, asking when you can send payment.  We tell them when we find a way to earn enough money to pay a mortgage that has risen over $600 from what it originally was.  They note it in the computer and call us the next day with the very same information and the very same question.  Finally, we stopped answering the phone.   The phone becomes an instrument of torture and constant reminder of how we are failing.

Today, I  picked up that instrument of torture.  The person who came on after the computer asked who I was.  I could have said, “Leon Trotsky” but I didn’t.  I decided to be me today.  What a mistake.

The voice on the phone says, “For quality assurances purposes, I need to inform you that this call may be recorded.”

Ah, she opened a door.  I respond with this question,

“May I record this call?”

“No, Ma’am,” she says.

“So, you can record me but I can’t record you?”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

I say, “I’m not satisfied with that.”

She begins to stutter and I hang up.  It is a tiny and rather hollow victory.  I play a game I know I can not win but at I feel a tiny sense of empowerment.  Twenty minutes later the phone rings again.  I push talk and then off.  It’s just a lot easier this way.

The next day, the phone begins ringing its new standard, every twenty minutes.  I pick up, hold the phone a second or two and disconnect and then it dawns on me.  The next time the phone rings and a human voice comes on after the auto dialer and says,
” I’m Mindy from Bank of America, am I speaking to Carol Sturgeon?”

I say, “No, you must have the wrong number.”

I hang up before I have to lie further.  For the rest of the afternoon and the next day, the phone does not ring every 20 minutes.  It’s wonderful.

At some point, I expect them to try again.   I’m going to keep sticking with the wrong number story.  For me, it certainly is a wrong number.   My life is a lot more peaceful without those insane phone calls.  They can find me.  I have an address and live in a house that really belongs to the B-A-N-K.  At least in theory prior to it becoming fact.

In the end, it won’t change a thing and the outcome will be the same.  We will lose the house but I will have avoided the 20 minute reminder calls that have no sane solution.  I’ve taken a little bit of control back and have bought myself a shred or two of sanity in a world that often seems to have turned its back on people like us.  I’m determined to survive in spite of it all.    I’m a turnip laughing my way to the poor house.   No one has a right to rob me of a sense of humor and dignity.  That is all mine.  I own it free and clear.




I am the person behind the words printed here. I write because my heart will not allow me the option of NOT writing. It has taken me half a life time to discover this basic truth, but now that I have, writing is as natural as breathing. This is where my breath takes the form of words.


I am reading

The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)
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