October 03, 2007
Kiss & Tell
Brother, Can You Spare Three Grand?
Most of us, especially freelance writers who get paid somewhere between the first of the month and the twelfth of never, can hit the financial skids.
In my case it was literal.
Thinking that I'd just drop by the dealership to get a quick inspection so I could renew my car registration turned into a whole other equation. Not only did my 10-year-old car fail the test, the estimate to pull it through ran into the three thousand dollar range. Well, maybe it was time to trade this one in for a slightly less used car. Then I was informed my car had zero trade-in value since it had 115,000 miles on it. I decided I had to bite the repair bullet and promised to drive only to church or happy hour until the parts came in to fix it.
So where, I asked myself, do you go for financial help? VISA is pretty much just a plastic version of a loan shark but saves the humiliation of having to ask for money. What we all dream of is someone magically understanding our need and finding pleasure in helping us out.
I was speaking with a friend who remembered an incident when she was getting divorced from her husband. Her mother, without being asked, simply sent a check to her to cover her children's schooling. Then when her mother came to visit she not only offered to baby-sit the children but handed her $600 in cash and told my friend she needed to go out and buy herself something very special. When I saw the look on my friend's face when she recounted looking down on these fabulous crisp bills and dreaming of their possibilities, there was still an expression of such awe and gratitude for her mother's gift all these many years later.
I remember another friend of mine who had a very prestigious but low paying not-for-profit job who was involved with an older, successful man. He knew she was very proud but also clearly in some need as she was raising a daughter on her own. His solution was to present "the money drawer." He would leave cash in this location (more than you can imagine spending in a month but less than a down payment as she described it.) At first she ignored it but then found herself really strapped around the holidays and dipped into the drawer. Miraculously, when she went back, what she had taken out had been replaced. This literal cash cushion made the difference in her life between a stress level which had made her sick (she beat cancer) and a feeling of joy and well being.
At an entrepreneur panel recently I had the chance to hear the story of a woman who had an idea for a company and it was the loan from a friend for $15,000 which kept the business going through its first year. Now of course not only every woman in the audience but millions nationwide know and love her product, the "hanky panky." Yes, let's give a big cheer for that friend who allowed us to say "comfortable thong" without thinking that's an oxymoron.
One of the most interesting "Sex and the City" episodes is where Carrie is trying to buy her apartment and looks around for help for a down payment (funny how I never remember her parents being mentioned on the show). This is a group of girlfriends who could discuss everything from three-ways to golden showers but to actually talk about money between them was totally uncomfortable and Carrie's asking for a loan almost brought down her friendship with Charlotte.
I fear we are all heading into an economy where the financial skids will be more and more prevalent and being blessed with generous family and friends will ultimately be what will keep us from skidding into that ditch. Luckily life is cyclical, and if you receive now it will be your turn to give later when you smile and say, "Sure, sister, I can spare a dime."
You can find more of my writing on HamptonsHeather.com or drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.