Hello, my name is Sullivan. I’m a tenant in the state of California, and I’m one of many out there who’s struggling with the financial difficulties that 2020 has left us in.
I don’t normally ask for help. That’s a problem, I know. I was raised to push forward, to get the tools I need, and if I don’t have those tools, then I do without for as long as possible before I can get them. This, unfortunately, usually expands to things like going a couple of days without eating while working full shifts in retail simply because I don’t have the money for food, wrapping injuries in toilet paper because I’m in the negatives more often than not so I can’t afford proper first aid kits, and before COVID, going to work whether or not I was sick and working through everything even if that meant going to the restrooms to throw up every half hour…because I needed to be able to support myself no matter what.
Through every issue I’ve faced in life, I’ve rarely ever asked for help. I’ve never really asked coworkers if they could buy me a pack of ramen for lunch, I’ve never asked my grandmother if she could help me with any payments after I moved out, never asked any family if I could stay with them when I was homeless. And even if the people around me offered help, I just…still couldn’t bring myself to accept any. Always saying “Oh no, no, it’s fine! I’ll just hold off a few more days”, or “I’ll get paid eventually, don’t worry”. Things like that.
But I’ve realized…I need to accept help. Because I desperately need it.
I work in retail. My hours were cut in the last few months, so I’m barely making anything substantial. And if you’ve lived in the state of California, you know how pricey things are here. Lately, I’ve been choosing rent and utilities over food. My phone is constantly out of service because my $24 bill (Walmart FamilyMobile’s lowest price) simply can’t be paid because I put that money towards last month’s electricity bill. In the last couple of years, I’ve turned the heater on maybe three times; I’d have to choose…be warm during the winter, or pay less on electricity…and usually, that bill cost pushes me towards the cold.
The last two weeks really made me consider asking for help, here. Nearly all of my paycheck went to rent…but here’s the thing. I was out of work for a month, because I was sick. I’m talking 101.1 degree fever, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea…sound familiar? Some of the symptoms of COVID. Couldn’t find anywhere that took my insurance near me, finally found a place, waited six hours to be seen, and nearly passed out outside…because I hadn’t eaten anything in a while. I’ve never had a moment in my life where I’ve almost passed out, and never experienced anything like it, but that feeling was horrible. And even then…my eyesight was going into this TV-static sight and getting darker and darker, extreme dizziness, and just everything getting quiet…I still couldn’t just speak up and tell someone, you know, hey, I think I’m about to go down, help me. It eventually went away after a few minutes in the shade, but…it was bad. I ended up testing negative, but…hoo boy. Whatever I actually had was hell.
I got sick twice that month, by the way. Second time so much worse than the first. Work wouldn’t let me back. Even when I went back the day I was supposed to, after I was feeling pretty much fine, there was a fluke in the system, and I had to wait an extra three days before I was reactivated in the system to get back to work. Oh, and that paycheck I mentioned? It was taxed, of course. Plus medical, dental, and vision insurance was taken out. Combine that with bad hours…My paycheck was $88 dollars.
I wish I could make this up.
I was sitting at -$34 dollars for about a week and a half after returning to work. That meant a week and a half of working retail during the holidays, during the holiday rush, and no nutrition from the time I left home to the time I got back.
And after all this, I’m still just scraping by with rent and bills and utilities, my phone is still disconnected, and the end of January is coming fast. If I can’t make a decent payment for rent, I’m out. Back on the street again.
It is finally time I put aside whatever’s held me back throughout all of my life, that cursed block that keeps me from asking for support or any form of help…and admit that I’m struggling. And that I desperately need help.
Anything will help. Anything. I won’t sit here and ask for my entire debt to be wiped away, I’m still going to be here, hard at work, and pushing towards fixing this hole I dug myself into. But this has been a wake up call, all the times I was offered help but never took it…Three months of partially-paid rent (one month I was only able to put about $98 on…that’s not going to fly after January), at home all I really have left is some chicken pot pies, ramen, a half-eaten jar of peanut butter, and cans of beans and corn. 2020’s resolution was to lose weight, but this…this isn’t how I thought it would happen.
Please. I know you don’t know me. I know you might be struggling yourself. Even if you were able to spare a dollar, my old mindset still says I shouldn’t take it…but I really need some help. If it’s five dollars, a single dollar, 50 cents, a penny, I’d be grateful. I really would.
Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read what I have to say. I really do hope that 2021 treats us both better than 2020.