Saturday, January 3, 2009
NY Times "Debt Trap"
Stefan's broke, but can still afford to go out for coffee.
Being just a factory worker, I've always felt like a bit of a loser. Both my brothers went to college, as did my parents, with all four graduating when in their early or mid-twenties. None of them ever worked blue-collar jobs. Meanwhile, blue-collar jobs are all I've had.
However, I'm starting to develop a changed sense about my status. I suppose it somewhat started when my former landlord threatened to go to the State Attorney's office. I had put a "stop payment" on my last rent check, and the landlord insisted that was a crime. (The place he was renting me had been in foreclosure for a year. Creditors were getting ready to finally seize it. He already had a "last month's" deposit from me. Trust me when I say he had no case.)
Anyway, despite my supposedly-lowly status as a factory worker, I had no problem sending $500 to a pretty good attorney just to threaten him back. I probably could have spent far less, as some local attorneys charge only $25 for an office consult, but I went for a firm that looks pretty professional.
My landlord, in response, attempted to argue the law with my attorney. I've seen the e-mails, and they're somewhat humorous. Apparently he couldn't even afford one of those $25 lawyers.
So, I thought it was pretty funny that I could kick the shit out of my landlord -- a guy who supposedly "owns" twelve properties. (As it turns out, four are in foreclosure.)
It was during that little incident that I discovered that some people who seem to have more status than I, are pretty much broke. A newly-discovered case in point: this 34 year-old guy, Stefan Heise, in this NYT video.
By the time I was 34, I had been working at my current employer for over two years. I had been working at another place for five. I had been enlisted in the USN for six. I had also worked a year or two as an ATM tech/armored-car driver.
But all Stefan has, is $60k in student loans, and $20k on his credit cards. Why didn't he just take a low-status factory job, like I did?
For what it's worth, I would feel sorry for Stefan, except that he's undoubtedly turned down jobs that I've done. (Notice how the article says, "He couldn't get a job in his field." Translated, it means: "He wouldn't take a sh*t job in a factory.")
And check-out Tamara's excuse-making. Like every NYT article, no one mentions the possibility of taking a blue-collar job, or going into the military. I guess everyone in the NYT is too good for that.
However, like my landlord, they're not too good to declare bankruptcy.
(After you click on the link, you'll have to click on "video" on the right.)
Thirty-Four, and $80,000 in debt.