Friday, February 6, 2009

Economic Crisis Hits Home

You have to be living under a basket to not know some parts of of the US got hit hard by a severe winter storm. First there was the sleet, then the ice, then the snow, then the sleet again. It was pretty bad for us here. I think half of Kentucky was without power at one time. And some are still waiting for the lights and heat to be turned back on.

My friend C. lives in an area that was hard hit, having huge trees in a mature neighborhood with no underground wires. Her power was out for five days. She was lucky that she had family to stay with while waiting it out. The pull to go home and check things out overwhelmed her, so she and her Dad went for a visit to check up on the house. And naturally, her Dad got stuck in the mountain of ice and snow scraped from the streets and deposited in front of all driveways. They tried and tried to get the car dislodged when finally someone came upon them and asked if they needed help.

He attached the car up to a wench and in a matter of moments had the vehicles back on the safe side of the drive way and clear of the ice barricade. Her Dad tried to give the guy money and he waved it off saying, "I'm paying it forward.", jumped in his truck and vanished.

Her father was not familiar with the term so C. explained that there was a movie that had this beautifully simple idea about people doing something meaningful for each other, strangers, family members, doesn't matter. The hitch is it is to be something hard and not easy....then the person receiving the "gift" is to "pass it on" meaning to do something for five other people, who in turn do something for five people, and in time, the world will be a much nicer place for everyone.

Later that day, after hearing her story I was in our local ALDI, the incredibly inexpensive (but very limited brand names, few but their own) grocery store replenishing the bread (.79cents) and a gallon of milk($2.29, was $1.99 until Jan. 1). I was standing in the back of the line, because there is always only one line and one cashier in my ALDI store, minding my own business when I sensed there was something going on at the front of the line.

A woman, with her two grand kids, was trying to check out. She had her daughters debit card and was trying to input the secret code. It was not working,. "I'm sure these are the numbers" the lady said in frustration. The two kids had become very quiet and concentrated on Granny's predicament. "If you try the third time and still don't get it right, the system will freeze you out.'

"Oh Lordie" she sighed and tried for the third time. I think we all held our breaths. It did not take.

The basket of groceries was pushed aside as the small family exited the store.

Something in my gut was telling me to step in and pay it forward, to pay for those groceries. And my heart was aching because I could not. I barely had enough bills in my hand to pay for the meager things I had.

I would have done it in a heart beat a year ago.

If I ever get back on my feet again (i.e. - get another job!!), I will never ever take anything for granted again.

Cross Posted on Just A Hippie Gypsy


lisaram said...

Great post, Mary! Just shows in a very personal way how the economic crisis is affecting everything, including our ability to help those in need. The poor, as usual, are the first ones to get screwed.

Cynthia said...

For me, not being able to do things like that has been the absolute worst thing about the change in my financial status. It's made me feel like a bum, a freeloader and a user who only takes and never gives. In some ways, I feel like one of Dicken's Christmas Carol ghosts of other Scrooge-like fellows who observed the pain of others but were unable to do anything about it and suffered for it. I'm with you, when I'm back on my feet, I never want to take anything for granted again.

sunflowerkat321 said...

This crisis is going to touch almost everyone a lot closer to home than anything we've seen in our lifetimes. And it's a time when all of us need to keep our eyes open for these moments when we can help. We've all taken way too much for granted for too long. Is it too much to hope that the silver lining of this economic nightmare, is that we all learn to pay it forward whenever we can?

A very touching post Mary. Thank you.

Kathy said...

Like you, I would have wanted to step forward and pay it forward. It's not a difficult thing to do. Usually. First, I found myself not sending as often or as much to our favorite organizations. Now I find myself down to two and it will be a while before I send any extra out. There isn't any extra.

No whining from me. It's life right now and I know, I feel, that I am more fortunate than some ... even though on occasion I feel ... bummed just a bit.

TJ said...

We was running in front of that storm ahead by about 3 hours heading back to Michigan.
Every where was preparing...starting in Tennessee.
The story was very sad.
We all have been hit in one way or another.
I can only pray we are not on our way into a depression. I think may of us get depressed enough as it is.
Take Care!

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