This has been a horrible year for a lot of people, but for the most part we've been insulated from it. We haven't known anyone directly affected in a catastrophic way, so it was easy just to tut-tut and say, "Times are tough for everyone."
I found out today, though, that my hairdresser and her husband are losing everything. Their house, her business, his business, some property they bought from his mother and really thought they could sell as a piece of commercial real estate, everything.
I know that people all over the country met their financial demise through a combination of poor decisions and bad timing, and some others simply due to greed. I guess ANY decision could be considered a poor one if the timing is bad. The same decision could have been a brilliant one in better economic times. How do you know?
I have whined and complained from time to time that I would like to move to a new house, one on a single level, one not in a subdivision that has gone mostly to rental properties, one that Hubby has not shared with other wives.
Hearing my hairdresser's story today, though, has made me grateful for what I have. Our house is paid for, and Hubby's last day of work is tomorrow. We have it so much better than a lot of people. She works in the cafeteria of one of the local schools for ZERO money, just so they can have benefits. In her words, "It's like we're going back to being eighteen again." And not in a good way. They have a daughter a year older than my own Sweet Girl, and they may have to move into her basement. She will probably have no trouble getting a job in a salon, because even in the worst of economic times, people are going to spend money getting their hair cut. But after all these years of working for herself? To start over? I can't imagine. They have no savings, no 401k, no retirement, nothing.
It has made me tremendously sad tonight. I hope 2010 is much better for them ... how can it NOT be? And for many, many other people too.