Broke, Insolvent, Destitute, Impoverished.

Have you ever been in the position where you have absolutely no money?  I mean, your bank accounts are cleaned out, you have no credit cards,  there’s no money under the sofa cushions, you have nothing in the change jar, you’ve checked the car, under the seats and every place else.  You don’t bother to check your wallet because there hasn’t been anything in there but lint and a few over-the-limit credit cards, for months.  There is no cash.  Nada.  Nothing.  It’s a horrible, frightening, miserable, debilitating, dreadful feeling.

You’re going to need money for gas in a few days.  The cigarettes are going to run out…most of you probably think that’s not such a bad thing.  I do.  You keep thinking about the things that are going to come up that you’re going to need to have some cash to solve.  What if I run out of toilet paper?  I don’t get the paper anymore.  Or mouthwash, shampoo?  What if I get a massive headache and there isn’t an aspirin in the house?

What can I sell?  Where else could I have stashed money I can’t remember?  Does anyone owe me any?  And then, is there anyone who will spot me a few hundred for the next two weeks?  Probably not.  Most everybody I know isn’t in a position to part with any “spare” cash.

What about one of those “title loans” or “payday loans?”  Yeah, that would be really smart.  Pay two-thousand percent – and I’m not kidding – interest on a few hundred dollars.  Those loans never seem to get paid back.  You make payments, hell, you give them your whole paycheck, and the principal never goes away.

But my money problems are only going to last two weeks.  Until the paycheck gets direct-deposited, hopefully before the checking account is hit with fifteen overdraft fees.  What about those people who don’t have jobs and are in a similar situation?  What are they going to do?  How are they going to keep their sanity?  Because not having money, not knowing where you’re going to get that next dollar, has got to be the worst exaction on your sanity there is and I don’t have a lot left to exact.

 I’m always aggravated by people walking up to me and asking me for money.  “Get a job,” I say to myself as I ignore them and walk away.  I see a homeless guy on 4th Street, almost every morning on the way to work, carrying branches under his arm.  He goes out, collects branches every day and takes them somewhere.  I don’t know what he does with them, but I’m forced to think about it.  Does he make a bed out of them? Use them for firewood?  I have no idea, but he always drops one or two on the way across the intersection and goes back to pick them up.  Strange.  He never leaves a stray branch in the street.  I imagine he has an enormous pile of dead tree branches somewhere.

Broke, insolvent, destitute, impoverished.  Yep, that’s me, but is it really?  Aren’t we talking about cash flow.  Good image, “flow”.  Cash has to flow.  My cash flow looks a lot like the rivers in New Mexico.  They have bridges over them, they have signs announcing their names, there’s a “channel” where water could flow, but there’s no water in them.  Nothing.  Nada.

I remember being told once that you would know you were rich if you didn’t have to ask how much something cost.  If you wanted it, and you had a lot of money, it wouldn’t matter how much it cost.  Makes sense.  Not a situation I have ever been in, however.  I can’t say I haven’t bought things I couldn’t afford, but I was damn clear about how much it cost.  Always.  I suppose a rich person wouldn’t suffer the cash flow problems I did after I bought something I couldn’t afford, whether I asked how much it was or not.

There was a very rich architect that lived in Santa Fe, NM.  His name was John Gaw Meem.  Mr. Meem died on August 4th, 1983, ten years after I moved away from the “City Different.”  John Gaw Meem had what could be termed, “boatloads of money.”  He was famous for revitalizing the “Pueblo Revival” style of architecture, and he designed many of the buildings on the University of New Mexico campus.  He drove an old pickup truck and dressed like, well, a bum.  At least someone who didn’t have boatloads of money.  He would go out to dinner in his old pickup truck, plaid shirt and old jeans at the “Inn of the Governor’s.”  Usually once a week, I was told.  And if you happened to be in the restaurant at the “Inn of the Governor’s” when he came in, he would pay your dinner tab.  Pretty cool.

Now, I never met John Gaw Meem, nor have I ever had dinner at the “Inn of the Governor’s.”  I couldn’t even afford a cup of coffee in there at the time, and, come to think of it, not much has changed.  Even if I practiced up my staged food-poisoning routine to get out of paying the bill, I’m pretty sure I would have picked a night that Mr. Meem wasn’t there.  And I can’t say for certain that the story is true, but I’ve heard it from a couple of different sources, so I’m going to chose to believe it, because I think it is something I would enjoy doing if I was, in fact, someone who didn’t have to ask how much things cost.

And one thing I know for certain, is if I didn’t know that a paycheck was going to be direct-deposited in two weeks, I would never make it.  I couldn’t go out every day to collect branches to sleep on or to keep warm.  I wouldn’t keep my sanity for a week.  I’m sure of it.  So how do those thousands of homeless people do it?  How does that homeless guy on 4th street do it?  He’s got to be as crazy as a loon.

I’ve been in this situation more times than I want to remember.  I’ve made it through each time.  There is no way to vouch for any sanity that may have evaporated during those times though.  Not having money has got to be the worst drain on your physique there is.  Wouldn’t I be a whole different person if I didn’t have to ask how much things cost?  I guess, probably not.

By now you’re probably thinking that I should stop feeling sorry for myself.  You’re probably right.  I’m not that bad off.  I’ll make it until payday, and I should be damn glad that I have a “payday” to look forward to.  (Sorry I ended that sentence in a preposition, but it just sounded right.)  In the end, I have money in my wallet at the moment – I won’t tell you how I got it – and it would be awesome if I could go down to the “Lone Star Steakhouse” for dinner, and pick up everyone’s tab.  Wouldn’t that be cool?  But I’d have to ask how much it was going to cost. 




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11 responses to “Broke, Insolvent, Destitute, Impoverished.

  1. Yep, I’m with you, I know what that’s like. It may be true that money doesn’t buy happiness, but not having any can sure make you miserable. And it’s such an energy drain, having to check your bank account daily, try and juggle between those that have to be paid now, and those that can wait, making decisions about whether it’s more important to fill the car or fill your stomach. I had to go bankrupt a few years ago. And sometimes now, as we head towards the end of the month, I might be known to skip meals in order to have enough to feed the kids. But as you say, I don’t know real poverty, I earn a decent salary and I know the paycheck is coming at the end of the month, I have a roof over my head, and I do have people I can turn to to borrow a bit of cash if I need it. Some months if I’ve earned some extra on the side from writing or acting, then I even have spare money, yay! It’s not fun running out of money, but I know I certainly have it a lot better than an awful lot of people.

    • Having it better than an awful lot of other people, only works for a while when you’re in this situation. I know it’s all going to work out in the end, but it’s going to be a long two weeks. I saw something the other day, “If there was no money, we’d all be rich.” How true. Anyway, I’m more angry that WordPress decided to delete half my post when I published it. I lost some stuff, I’m just going to have to put back in. It was a lot more upbeat in my final version.

  2. I liked this, it was well done. From the heart, and I imagine you are frustrated enough without WP digesting some of your best words. I usually do my posts in Word first, then paste into WP but I have noticed when you save, it kinda saves whatever it feels like saving at the moment. Anyway, good post and hoping for some sort of windfall, or at least a stop gap, for you in the next two weeks.

    • Thanks, Lynn. I used to do that Word to WordPress writing when this first started happening to me, then it seemed to stop so I got lazy. I’m still going to do a rewrite and repost on this one, because it ended up being a lot more depressing than it was really intended.

  3. Sorry to hear about your woes (vanishing resources and words–double whammy if ever there was one). Your frustration is clear in the words that did survive.

    I’ve never been destitute, but I’ve been pretty darned poor. Something or someone always came through when I needed it or them. That’s just how it worked out for me. I don’t know why it doesn’t work that way for everyone… 😦

    • Hi Lorna. Thanks for commenting. Being without money, even though you know money is coming, is still a strain on you. I’ve been in “high cotton,” as they say, maybe two years of my entire working life, and of course, it didn’t last. I’ll keep buying those lottery tickets I guess. It’s just so much more fun to win money than it is to earn it.

  4. Shannon

    I feel your pain. I used to laugh when someone would ask to go to lunch or dinner and I replied, “can’t right now, don’t have any money.” The reply I would get back would be something like “me neither, but I don’t care”. I didn’t mean shouldn’t spend the money, I meant NO MONEY. Isn’t it funny how fast two weeks is when you have no money and Christmas is two weeks away and how slow it is when you have no money and the paycheck is two weeks away. Hang in there my friend!

    • Oh so right about how long two weeks can be. I’ll make it. I’ll be so rich in two weeks I won’t be able to decide who to pay first. LOL Hey wait, it’s only a week now.

  5. joe mama

    What did you do for the money in your wallet??

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