Wednesday, May 5, 2021

How Did it Come to This?

     You come into the world naked, cold and wet. Then, to compound matters, someone slaps you on your tender little ass. Then when you scream, everyone pronounces that as a small victory for mankind. (In my defense, when I was born at 9:50 PM on January 16th, 1959, I "voided on the doctor", as Astoria General Hospital noted in my birth record.)

     Then, depending on the family raising you, it may or may not be smooth sailing from then on. With just a bit of luck, you rapidly learn how the game is played. You learn basic manners and etiquette, accept going to school and learning things and just trust that the adults know what they're talking about.

     Except they always don't.

     It's not always their fault. The wisest adults usually can't predict the future except for anticipating trends. Back in the 60s when I was growing up in Tampa, the grownups couldn't anticipate that showing up for work every day, doing a good job and generally being a good citizen wouldn't necessarily translate into job security and a pension.

     What did they know about outsourcing, offshoring, downsizing, predatory temp agencies doing all the hiring for what would be left of American industry? How could they know that banks and other lenders would hit upon the idea to sell debt through loans and credit cards and that one day our fitness to hire for a job would one day be predicated on our skill in managing debt that, in my childhood and adolescence, we were taught to avoid, to not live beyond our means?

     So they took away our pensions, then our 401(k)s, any appreciable interest on our interest-bearing accounts among those of us fortunate enough to have money to actually accrue in the bank and were told this was all in our best interests. How were we to know the very people we'd elect to power would systematically rob us blind and make us gradually realize during this slow motion revelation that everything we were taught was a Goddamn lie?

     Now debtor's prisons are back, despite the Supreme Court striking them down. We've criminalized basic humanity and even indigence itself. You fall behind on one bill, your creditor can make sure you can never get back up and this harvesting money off the poor is all nice and legal, thanks to the crooked legislators and presidents we keep electing.

     I didn't make this world and I'm not even 100% sure the devil didn't have a hand in making it the way it now is. I, like everyone else, have to live in it after being told to obey one set of rules only to have the rules slowly changed in the ultimate bait and switch.

     From the age of 18-50, I did what I was told. I went to work. Hardly took any days off. Worked hard and tried to do a good job. When I was 18-19 years-old, I would work 40 hours a week (Yeah, young'uns, that used to be a thing) and, after meeting my obligations, I could still put money in the bank while earning just $3.05 an hour. In less than a year, I was able to save up about $500-600. Of course, it helped not having kids, car insurance, internet or phone bills to worry about. But what helped more than anything was that back then, the average person had to earmark just 25% of their net income for rent.

     Now, it's double that, at least. Thanks to the scumbags on Beacon Hill, the laws here in Massachusetts are so heavily weighted in favor of property owners, there's literally no limit to how high your landlord can jack up your rent (some states have a 10% cap).

     The corruption on Beacon and Capitol Hills that's been so thoughtfully cultivated by property owners is such that even after several years, progressives have still been unable to pass the HOMES Act that would remove the names of people like us from that dreaded database that future prospective landlords use while doing background checks. That database has created a phenomena called, "evicted for life."

     Now, Mrs. JP and I are two decent people. We pay our bills on time, every month, for years on end and I have the receipts to prove it (especially rent receipts). We obey the law, don't harass our neighbors, destroy the property or make the landlord wait for his money. So, we honestly don't know how it came to this, why this is happening to us.

     Then April came and, once again, TS Eliot proved why April is the cruelest month.

     Another quit notice, delivered by a constable, harassing phone calls. Then I lost my multibook contract (the last of my worries. It wasn't a good fit, although I found out today that I'll have to republish all 10 of my titles since my former publisher unpublished them). 

     Now, it looks as if we've lost our source of income.

     Our life together is falling apart before our eyes. We did everything we were told to do. We worked until we were laid off by right wing assholes. We went looking for jobs and found the game's rules had been changed. It's all temp agencies now. We use Photoshop. You don't know Photoshop? Sorry, we can't hire you because we don't believe in training new hires, any more. Oh, you don't know Six Sigma, Mr. Crawford? You know just ISO 9001? Well, then, you weren't real Quality Control.

     I plan on taking my slumlord to Civil Court for defamation and will sue him for every nickel he's got. But that's the long game. Starting soon, we're going to have to play the short one.

     Mrs. JP is crying every day, including today, and I can't get her to stop. She blames herself for this (I told her just before she met him on March 26th not to tell the slumlord about the busted oven until we got the new lease because I knew he'd react like this.) And almost every day she's asking me questions and looking to me for answers. "When do we have to move? Where are we moving to?"

     "I don't know" is the only honest answer I can give her but obviously it's not enough. We're in our early-mid 60s. Uncertainty over necessities could prove to be fatal, especially in the age of COVID. And now, unless this gets successfully overturned on appeal, we haven't even got the eviction ban to protect us for the last seven weeks it would've remained in effect.

     I don't know what happened but it's getting to be more and more of a struggle to get out of bed each day knowing that each new day will bring with it some bad news. or another.

     The only money we now have is the back rent our slumlord now refuses to collect. We have nothing in Paypal and little more in the bank. We're looking for a miracle at a time when the world seems to be fresh out of them. If anyone reading this can help, please do so. This is the biggest crisis we've ever faced over the last 12 years. I am not a scammer and everything I've ever told you is the absolute truth. The first time I'd written about this during that cursed April, someone wrote a nasty comment saying I deserved this to happen to me because I'm "a horrible human being" for asking for assistance

     I am not the only person who ever tried to crowdsource funds on the internet. Paypal, Patreon, Go Fund Me and other such sites were not created just for me. I'm not getting rich off suckers like Republicans still spreading the Big Lie, I'm not like that "publisher" who'd scammed her friend out of a million dollars and millions more off unwary, desperate authors. I don't promise things I can't or won't deliver.

     We're just two aging people with an aging cat who just wanted to do the right thing and thought we were until the day we fell between the cracks.


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