How do I begin a missive to people in cyber-space – especially one that requires me to expose my personal struggles in such a vulnerable way? It is very difficult for me to ask for help. I suppose that it is prideful vanity whispering the word “failure” in my ear. My name is Jessica and I am not a failure. Take that pride!
I found myself staring at my computer screen for an hour, typing a sentence just to delete it seconds later. I decided the only way to get around that fear was to crash right into it with the truth. The truth is is this: My husband and I have made ourselves slaves. I remember reading a verse in the Book of Proverbs that says (I am paraphrasing) the borrower becomes a slave to the lender. It didn’t make much sense to me then. Logically I understood, but I was young and didn’t have much debt. Experience has become my greatest teacher.
Neither my husband nor myself grew up wealthy. We both had parents that worked hard to provide for us. Dean’s father was a single dad of three boys, so he worked a lot. My parents both had great jobs for years, but they spent frivolously and did not plan for emergencies. They eventually filed bankruptcy. We weren’t taught to save or even how to budget.
In 2007 my husband bought his first grapple truck.He had been driving for someone else for years and realized the money making potential in the hauling business. Ten years later we had three trucks, two employees, were an S-Corp and grossed over $250k. Every week we would run multiple cash loads that weren’t accounted for or deposited. We spent it. Our children believed that daddy had bottomless pockets. They weren’t spoiled but definitely comfortable and lacked nothing, as was I. I was able to stay home and take care of the house and the office.
And then the bottom fell out. One driver had $110,000 in insurance claims because he rear-ended someone – and did not tell me about it for a month. I found out about the accident the same week that he did $14,000 worth of damage to the truck putting it out of commission permanently. The next week the other driver did just about the same amount of damage to that truck. The only truck left was the first truck and it had almost a million miles on it.
We had bills. Lots of bills. We created to debt to pay off debt.
Someone we hauled for wanted to invest in a truck with us.. It was a bad deal, but we were desperate. We were losing everything. Our children were suffering. We found a truck that was being refurbished, came with warranty (and by all appearances looked like our life raft) by a “reputable” company. Our investor put up $60k cash, the rest to be financed. After sending the deposit to the dealer we were informed the truck hadn’t been worked on yet and that it would be two months before it could be picked up. We waited though, acquiring more debt just to pay our household bills. By then we just stopped paying most of the business ones. We had to have a roof over our head and running water.
I was so excited the day they went to get that truck. I had started cleaning houses and was working 6 days a week, sometimes 10 hours a day. Dean picked up the truck on a Friday, by Monday the truck had to go in the shop, starting a whole new round of devastation. But because we had already signed the finance agreements with both the bank and the investor we were now obligated to pay over $5,000 a month for a truck that was not producing any revenue. It took almost another two months for it to run steady. By then we were being evicted. With all of the debt we had accumulated, both of our credit scores plummeted. No one would help us.
Still we have pressed on. I am now working two jobs, our 16 year old daughter is working (and in the AICE program at school with a 4.0 GPA), and Dean is hauling as many loads as he can get. Sometimes giving your all still isn’t enough. I wish I could say that is the end of the story. It’s not.
My Jeep has needed a whole new front end for a while but we can’t afford the $1500 to fix it. It’s financed and I can’t find a buyer willing to pay what I owe.Two weeks ago the engine blew in my daughters car (that I spent ALL of my tax money on) and will cost $3000. Last week our only other vehicle was repossessed. That’s another $3500. We have no vehicle now to get to work or the store or anywhere. Dean has given everything he has in him to turn things around. He works all day and then comes home to work on the Jeep himself.
Four days ago we were informed that the investor is suing us for breach of contract. While we have paid him (some in cash, some in hauling) we have not been able to meet the demands of the contract. Legally he has the right to sue, as we signed the contract. We have communicated with him almost weekly. Dean has hauled 20+ loads (that’s $8,000) for him, all applying to our loan. Yet, we are in default. We will lose the truck.
We need help. We are going to talk to a lawyer this week. But how will we pay for it? How will we get there? And then what? Bankruptcy? Homelessness? This is my cry for help. Will anyone even read this? If they do, will they get past the first paragraph? And if they do will they read to the end, will they be moved with compassion?
To the person reading to the end – if you are in a position to help, please be my beacon of hope. If you can give money, please do so. If you can give a car (or an engine), please do so. If all you can give is an encouraging word that will give me hope, please do so.