loans & groans

When the store manager called me into his office, I assumed it was for another one-on-one meeting we had every week or so to discuss how my department was doing.  But, when I sat down, he told me that the company was phasing out my position next year.  I was a little taken aback.  He told me it wasn’t because of my performance and that he had no control over the decision.  I sat there, trying to process what was going on.

“I’m sure you want to go back to your former department,” he said.

I thought about it for a minute.  While I didn’t exactly love my new position, I thought back to my old position and realized I didn’t miss it at all and wasn’t thrilled to go back.  But, if I had no choice…

“Yes, I’d prefer that,” I responded.

“I thought so,” he said with a bit of a sigh.  “Well, you know I can’t really promise you anything.  The only thing I can say is you’ll get to keep your rate of pay but as you know, we’ve already moved everyone around to replace you, so…”

What was he trying to say?

“You still have five months,” he added.  “Who knows what could happen in that time.  Some people might find other jobs.  Others will go off to school, so we might be able to fit you in somewhere.” 

Might be able to fit me in somewhere?  That was reassuring.  If you’ll recall, I wasn’t exactly clamoring to take on supervisor of a new department and after only being given one day to decide, I went ahead and said yes.  Then, I went back and told him my concerns about the new position and that I wasn’t sure I really wanted it after all.  To that, he told me he had already shifted everyone around to replace me and that I would be “putting him in a bind.”  Well, now he was putting me in a bind.  After guilting me into taking the job, he was now saying that I wasn’t going to have it anymore, after only two months of doing it?  I felt hot.  I took the job because I felt bad that everyone else had been moved around to compensate for the hole I made when I left.  I didn’t want to disturb anyone else’s new placement and definitely didn’t want to disappoint my boss.  So, I tried to be a good employee and go with it, to ride out the mess I had put myself in.  Once again, trying to be a good person ended up biting me in the butt.  If I would have just told him no when I had the chance, I wouldn’t have to worry about where I’d end up, like I’m doing now.  Even though I’m going to get my same pay, he can’t guarantee I’ll get the same hours.

And if that wasn’t a big enough blow to the balls, I got a letter from my student loan provider informing me they are going to raise my payments up three hundred dollars starting this month.  After working nearly ten days straight, I was excited to come home and enjoy my three day weekend.  I was happy to pull into the driveway, knowing that long stretch of work was behind me and I had a semi-long stretch of rest ahead of me.  That is, until I saw that letter.  The next day was spent trying to sort the mess out.  Unfortunately, it couldn’t be.  Turns out, private loan lenders are pretty much a-holes who don’t work with low income losers such as myself.  I had already exhausted all of my deferments, forbearances, and interest only payment options.  The lady on the phone said my only other course would be to try consolidation.  So, after she patched me through to someone else, the guy on the phone calculated what my payments would be if I consolidated.  The payments would be two-to-three hundred dollars more a month.  Didn’t exactly help my situation or provide any sort of comfort.

The worst part was that I tried to get my mom involved and she’s just about as clueless when it comes to financial matters as I am.  The first huge mistake was when she didn’t get involved in my initial loan application.  Being the typical dumb-ass redneck family that we are, none of my relatives had moved on to higher education.  Hardly any of them graduated high school so the concept of student loans was something that had never crossed anyone’s minds.  And being the naive twenty-year old that I was at the time, I had no idea what I was doing.  I knew about checking and savings accounts but that was about the extent of it.  So when I asked Mom to help me find a good place to apply to, her response was, “Just apply to whoever will take you.”  Thaanks.

I looked up a couple of companies my college recommended and randomly selected one.  I didn’t know it was a private loan company.  I didn’t even know there were different types of loans to choose from.  So, I went with the same company all three years I attended college, never truly realizing how much debt I was racking up.  My mom and I always assumed we’d just be able to pay back whatever we could.  Another dumb assumption.  Doesn’t work that way.  These people are pretty ruthless and have no sympathy for unemployment or crappy retail jobs.  It’s not like I’m not trying to pay back the money.  I’ve been paying on it for over a year now.  Never late.  Never less than what I owed.  But the increase will drain me of what little money I already have and I can’t live like that.  But it doesn’t matter to them.

The most frustrating aspect was when I asked my mom to listen in on my conversation with the loan people, just to make sure they didn’t rope me into some plan that sounded good at first but ultimately would force me into repaying them with a goat sacrifice and my left testicle.  She ended up doing more harm than good, asking inane questions that served to anger me more on top of my already short fuse after learning there was no way I could back out of the increased payments.  And at one point, when the guy put me on hold, mom said she was going to take that time to use the bathroom.  But she took the phone in there with her.  So, I’m sitting in my room listening to soft jazz when I start to hear a soft sprinkle.

“Mom, I can hear you PEEING.  On the phone!”

Splash, splash.

“Oops, sorry.”

I’m surprised the guy didn’t come back on the line mid-stream.  That would have made the whole interaction all the more disastrous.  So, I spend the first day of my three day weekend trying to sort out the loan stuff but it was fruitless.  I was left feeling worse than when I started.  And as for now, I’m stuck paying nine hundred dollars a month when I don’t even make that much.  I kind of don’t know what I’m going to do. 

It just sucks because when I got my raise, I really thought that I’d be able to build my checking account back up and maybe even try to start saving.  I thought maybe I could catch up on my finances and feel comfortable with my money but even with my raise, it was still a bit of a struggle to save.  Then, I heard I’d be demoted and that my hours might be cut and then I hear my loans are increasing.  It’s the perfect storm of screwing me over.  I can’t see any way to get out of this.  Unless I win the lottery.  Or finalize my death.  But even if I did that, my parents are cosigners so if I bite the big one, they’ll be stuck paying for my bad choices.  I’d be responsible for them living under a bridge and eating dirt to pay off my loans.  I don’t want to do that to them.  I can’t escape it.  Even in death, I can’t run from the ramifications of my terrible decisions.  I can’t seem to get anything right.

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