Debt and how to ignore it

Grumpy Cat
Debit and how to ignore it

It was Tuesday morning and the mother had had no work for nine days. Now nine isn’t a big number, and it is not a long time, but it is long enough. It is long enough when every day you don’t work you are losing a day’s pay and when the bills just keep piling up. A day gives you eight long hours to worry, and most of her worries right now were about her financial predicament. She was beginning to feel a bit shit.
It’s ok not to be ok. Well, at least that’s what her daughter told the cat every morning.
“It’s OK, Esme, I think the cats’ alright, I don’t think cats get depressed, I mean they don’t exactly have a lot to worry about?” Oh, to be a cat right now.

“But still mum, just in case,”

The mother had blocked her negative thoughts out for almost two hours, but then the post arrived, bringing with it four ominous-looking letters. Something about them said bills, well not so much said it, more shouted it. The mother, by now could recognize a demand for money from 50 feet. Although one company had made a tenuous effort to hide its source by using the Comic Sans font. Ha! Like she was ever going to fall for that, she hadn’t had a handwritten letter in two years!

Now there wasn’t anything unusual about that day, but something made the mother say to herself enough is enough. She needed to sit down and sort out all these debts. Perhaps you’ve had a moment like this yourself. Your crisis might not have been over money, perhaps it was marriage or work-related. Maybe? (Or maybe you are one of the lucky ones and your life flows more gently than this. Perhaps the only shock you’ve had recently is finding out about the sugar content in a Snapple lemon iced tea and to be fair, it is quite a relation.)

Maybe you’ve reached a point in your life where you’ve lost track of how much debt you’re in. Then you need to take a long hard look at yourself, your lifestyle ideally your credit card statements too. This shouldn’t take too long though the mother, but then something stopped her, as it always did. Why do it now when she could put it off until another day, another week even. Yes, why not put it off until next week, when it’s half term, that makes a lot more sense doesn’t it!

Next Week
The mother is on the phone making a very important phone call. Sadly, she has been on hold for so long she cannot remember who she’s calling. Luckily for her, a recorded message reminds her at 30-second intervals, else she might slip into a coma and die. It is reassuring to know that the council value her call and knows she is waiting. At least it was twenty-five minutes ago, now she is beginning to question their sincerity. Also, her battery power is now glowing red, like her face, and her bills.
Upstairs she can hear her children playing loudly in her bedroom. There is a lot of laughter and the sound of her bed repeatedly banging against the wall.

“Keep the flipping noise down, you two. I’m on the bloody phone,”

That’s ok, isn’t it? you can say that to your kids, it’s not really swearing. Unfortunately, although said with feeling, her message does not seem to have reached its intended target. The laughter is gradually getting louder and now there is screaming too. It appears her advice has been lost in the abyss. It’s probably laying there somewhere, along with her favourite Gossard bra, and her passport.

She tries to block them both out, focus on the phone call, and what she will say when it’s finally answered. But the phone just rings and rings and rings. And in between the rings plays the same monotone message again and again

Have you ever seen, ‘I, Daniel Blake?’ OK, it’s not that bad, but you get my point.
The mother was beginning to wonder if she might have a stroke before her phone call was ever answered. She often thinks about premature, stress-induced death when she feels her blood boiling.

Suddenly there is an almighty bang. It sounds as though the headboard might have actually smashed through the wall, and into her neighbour’s house. Christ wouldn’t’ that be awful and knowing the council it wouldn’t get fixed for weeks. Still on the plus side, at least they’d have a bit more space. Still clutching the phone, the mother storms upstairs and into her room. Now she must compose herself before speaking to her children. If she doesn’t, there’s a good chance that when she opens her mouth flames will come shooting out, ignite the room and burn the house to the ground. She counts slowly to 10 to calm herself down, well she almost counts to 10.

“Stop jumping on my bloody bed will you, your gonna break it.”

Her daughter immediately looks upset, a bit humble even, her son however just looks angry. This is because he is a teenager and so is never in the wrong. Sorry is a foreign word to a teenager a bit like hygiene and thank you. Aaron says something inaudible and then cuts his eyes at her. The mother does not like it when her son cuts his eyes; she tells him not to do it as it really pisses her off. Obviously, she doesn’t use the word pisses, she chooses a much nicer word but one which conveys an equal amount of anger. Aaron replies by telling his mother that he doesn’t know what cutting your eyes means, so how can he be doing it? He has made a very good point but has completely misjudged his timing, silly boy. Can he not see his mother’s face turning purple?

Cutting your eyes

The mother is getting a bit shouty now. she tries to demonstrate what cutting your eyes is, by doing it herself. The mother often cuts her eyes at people but now is finding it very difficult to do on-demand. Maybe it is like smiling on demand for your photograph thinks the mother.
She is still trying to cut her eyes when she hears a strange sound, a man’s voice seems to be coming from somewhere, oh, Christ thinks the mother it’s my phone. Now her call has been answered, I mean in a very real way, not in any kind of spiritual way.
The voice belongs to a man named Gareth.
“Ah,” says the mother, “My ex-boyfriend is called Gareth.”
“OK, replied Gareth, “I’m not sure why you’re telling me that.”
No, I’m not sure either thinks the mother. She tells Gareth that she is really struggling to pay her council tax. Gareth, says he feels sure they’ll be able to,
“Sort this little problem out.”

I wouldn’t put money on it thought the mother, but still, let’s give it a whirl
Gareth asks for her council tax number. The mother has so many numbers in her head, it’s hard to remember them all. She blurts out the first one that comes to mind, which happens to be her daughter’s date of birth.
“No, not that one, sorry, I think my council tax number might begin with a seven,” says the mother.
“That’s helpful,” says Gareth
Yes, she thought so too.

After a couple of minutes, they firmly establish that the mother did not know her account number. Instead, Gareth suggested that she tell him her address and date of birth.
“Do I have to tell you my date of birth?” asks the mother
“Yes,” says Gareth, “You do.”
Once Gareth has found her account details, he asks her to explain her current financial situation,
“I can do that in two words,” said the mother.
“Doesn’t matter.”

A lifetime later

After much discussion, and after the mother had listed every bill, credit card and debt to her name they reached a stalemate.
“I did warn you,” said the mother, almost triumphantly, adding
“You try finding another 150 quid on top of all that, I mean…”
“300 pounds.”
“It’s 300 pounds you owe, last month’s payment has still not been paid yet either.” That’s helpful though the mother, it’s always nice to be reminded of how much debt you are drowning in.
It was then, in a moment of weakness or perhaps despair that Gareth made a regrettable mistake. A mistake that he would pay dearly for.
“Perhaps you could ask your partner to pay the bill, that would be a solution, wouldn’t it, I mean you do have a partner, don’t you?”

Are you fxxking kidding me.

Asking Jason was out of the question. He was already paying all the rent, the water bill, the gas, the electric, the car insurance. Plus, the phone bill, the kids’ dinner money, the home insurance, and the Virgin TV package. On top of all this, he had also been stung this week for the school photos and a mammoth vet bill. Christ that cat had more ailments and issues than a hypochondriac with a drug habit. All she had been contributing to the household, was tea bags and toilet rolls, and those freebees had stopped, coincidently on her last day of employment.

Finally, and fortunately for the man from the council, she stopped talking, well almost. She finished by saying
“You see my problem Gareth, if I ask my partner to pay the council tax, on top of all this, he may well leave me. You wouldn’t want that on your conscience, would you?
Now at this point, she definitely felt like she was oversharing. She wasn’t sure that she actually needed to tell him all this, but you know what, she certainly felt better after she had. Plus, it’s always a good idea to be open with the authorities, isn’t it?
At that moment there was silence no ringing, no background music, no discussion, just silence. And then it came!
“You know, I could give you the number of an organization that helps people like you manage their finances,” said Gareth.

PEOPLE LIKE ME! The Mother didn’t know whether to laugh or rip the guy’s head off.
Given her proximity to Morley Street, ripping his head off was going to prove more difficult. Learn to manage your money! Jesus Christ as a fully signed up member of the impoverished classes, that particular skill set was in her blood.

I’m lost in a supermarket

There was nothing the mother did not know about saving money and doing things on the cheap. She knew which supermarket was the cheapest and which was the most expensive, and could rank every store in-between. She knew own brand was less expensive than known brands and that loose fruit and veg were always cheaper than packaged. The Mother could pass an avocado off as a potato at the self-service checkout and a pain da chocolate as a bread roll.

On days out with her kids, the mother had learned early on in her life as a parent to arm herself with a pack of Capri sun and homemade sandwiches. By the time they were five years old her children had learnt never to set foot inside a souvenir or gift shop unless accompanied by their grandparents. Her transport of choice was walking, next the bus, the underground if she’d just been paid.

As for knowing which London’s stations did not have barriers, well, she could produce a guidebook on that. Although she wasn’t quite sure who would want to fund such a publication.
She knew all about high-interest rates, low-interest rates, credit cards, loyalty cards, and discount cards. She knew exactly what shops allowed you to buy now and pay later and was more than familiar than she cared to be with PayPal credit. She was also a begrudging but regular seller on eBay. Even as a child she’d been savvy, taking back the Corona glass bottles for the 10p refund. (God bless the seventies, Christ these millennials think they invented recycling.)

The mother was also well-practised in the fine art of kicking a cigarette box; to determine whether it still contained cigarettes. Although she’d given up smoking years ago, ‘the dole queue kick’ had proved difficult to forget.

Help manage your finances” indeed. Jesus, Grandma and suck eggs didn’t even come close!
Of course, the mother did not say any of this, by now she didn’t have the energy. Nor, it turned out, did her phone. Although it took another long bout of silence before she realized this. Now you’d think after she’d realised, she was in the abyss again, she’d be glad to put the phone down. But for a minute or two, she sat there just clutching it and thinking, Well actually clutching it, thinking and listening to the sound of her bed repeatedly clanging against the wall.

And then she came to a realisation. Her phone dying at that precise moment could only mean one thing. It was a sign, a sign that today was not the day to sort out her debts.
“Christ has set you free, stand firm, then, do not let yourself be burdened by the council tax bill or any other bills. Well, something like that anyway. Some celestial being was telling her to postpone the matter and who was she to interfere.

Anyway, she’d waited this long to open those bills, a few more weeks wouldn’t hurt, would it? I mean it couldn’t make matters any worse!

Bathing in Debt

The mother had often felt like she was drowning in debt, but maybe all that was needed was a positive slant, perhaps she should just lean into it. Yes, not drowning in debt, but bathing in it. Christ, she felt better already.

Images courtesy of Pixabat

Cat manfredrichter Pixabay

DrowningLibelSanRo Pixabay

Supermarket reverent Pixabay

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