A few days ago I was liberated - not only from the confines of a banking institution that for the last 7 years has denied me a single line of credit - but from a weight that had been hanging over my head for the last few months.
You see 8 years ago I was married. We had met in a college English class and fallen in love over ancient poetry, open mics, mutual joy of cooking, and drawn together despite the attention an inter racial relationship garnered in the Bronx. For about a year we dated and attended the same college, often times choosing the same courses so we would have ample time to study together. As things progressed so did her need/want to live together. We were not prepared for the responsibilities of married life and were ill equiped to cope with the stresses.
If I give any relationship advice to couples starting out it may be that you do not truly know another person until you live with them.
All the small behaviors that you can overlook or forgive when you have two places to retire to at the end of a weekend or date suddenly can become apparent and difficult to cope with. Well a long and torn out year together ended with me leaving college after a pregnancy scare that had me believing for several months that I was father to be. It was a lie - one that challenged my devotion to the person and shook the fundamentals of what I expected out of this life.
How is this related to Chase in any way shape or form? Well during this time I had taken out a credit card with Capital One and secured a loan from Chase so I could pay for one semester of Mercy college. When life intervened and she told me to pick her or college I choose her and have regretted it.
I was desperate to stay together at that point - I choose her. A clerical error in loan processing went unfixed and Mercy College returned my loan to Chase . That saddled me with a debt of over 5,000 dollars.
This went on my credit report and my ex wife proceeded to max out the 500 dollar limit on the Capital One card with an online shopping binge. That also went on my report. Then the cell phone bills I thought she was paying with the money we had together continued to build until they became unsustainable. All this culminated into me having poor credit and unable to fix my credit.
It was only a few months ago that these situations were resolved and I owe a great deal of it to Dailykos.
Several months ago I was in danger of losing my job - not because of any lack of qualification but because one week into my start week my TA certification expired. What I thought was going to be a 26,500 starting salary was reduced to 19 ,100. My rent is now 925 dollars per months not including transportation, food, utilities, and trying to enjoy my 20s while they last.
Obviously my rent was taking the majority of income and I was forced to take on additional jobs outside of my 7:30 to 3:30. I took Saturday shifts at a gothic clothing store in lower Manhattan called Vampirefreaks as well as taking weekday shifts where I wouldn't get off till at least 9:30 at night. On Sundays I started working with a little boy where we would do outings in various social settings to help him with his problem behaviors and the fact that like all children he needed a friend. I worked for seven days a week for six months - all the time fighting to get my TA level three certification.
The problem was I needed the college credits from Mercy College in order to get my certification from the state.
In order to get the credits, so I could get my cert, so I could get a raise I would have to pay back the original balance owed to Chase bank and Mercy College. That was 5,600 dollars that I had to be able to come up with in a few months or lose my job for good. I worked several 70 hour plus weeks, lacking sleep, food, and sometimes having to beg my way onto a subway if my metro card was out of a fare or expired. To say it was hard would be an understatement. I sold many of my creature comfort devices that republicans call a luxury of the middle class - only I still can not afford to replace any of them.
I am blessed that I have loved ones who have supported me both mentally and physically in one of the hardest points of my adult life.
You feel helpless when you have the knowledge, drive, passion, and will to do great things but have such trivial road blocks placed in your way. Yet I feel lucky that I have a job, hell several in which to make ends meet. I was unemployed for almost a year and was subsiding on unemployment checks until my former employer challenged my right to get the checks after three and a half years of work. I was wrong that I did not have proper documentation of how I left my former employee and lost my benefits.
Well one day the mother of the family I work with asked me about school and why I didn't have my full time teaching degree already. I explained to her briefly some of the obstetricals I was facing and what I was doing to solve the problems. At this point I had paid off over two thousand dollars of the debt owed but was running out of time.
I didn't want to lose my job or have my position reduced. I love my profession. I know the school might have simply reduced me to a 1:1 aide but the prospect was grim. I would have made a little more money but completely lost my health insurance and dental plan - things I place a high value on.
A week later she called me and told me that the balance was now on her credit card and I could work off the debt. Now suddenly things didn't seem quite so bad and I could start to get back on the right track.
Well as some of you may know the first week of OWS I returned home from hanging out with MoT/Jesse and found an eviction notice on my door.
The money that I had been using to pay off Mercy College and clear up credit card bills was no longer going to my building management.
I now had 2,000 dollars in back rent due and no way to be able to pay it back without help. Honestly I didn't know what to do and just started staying down at the park. I figured if I was gonna lose my place I had better get used to this type of situation fast.
It hung like a weight around my head down there - somehow I would be able to figure this out. It wasn't until I posted a diary about MoT/Jesse being on the Young Turks that fellow Kossack's really saved me from being evicted. Several had asked me to post a donation link and at first I resisted. I decided being proud wasn't a luxury I could afford anymore and that this community has been one the most treasured things in my life for years. I may have lurked, commented randomly and posted diaries only when I thought I could write something meaningful - but I was always here. Listening, reading, thinking, reliving ancient pie wars and yelling at the sky about all the seemingly common sense solutions to the problems in politics that politicians ignore.
Within the comments I didn't know what to make of the fact that allensl a Kossack from Alaska had sent me a paypal donation of 900 dollars.
My rent was now paid. For the first time in a long time my head was(is) above water. More donations poured in during the night in and by the morning I had woken up with almost 1500 dollars in my paypal account. So not only was I now able to afford my back rent - I was able to pay my con ed bill! I was able to pay my cell phone bill and afford to put down 200 dollars on a new laptop. (I was using Jesse's old one and it is falling apart)
It has changed my life.
I got messages of support, emails from friends, care packages, a few letters, and the ability to be able to pay off my debt.
Red who has sent me the most heart felt messages wrote and inspired me:
Anyway, let's hope calmer heads prevail and the good people of OWS can find ways to make their cause more understandable by appealing directly to the nation, in whatever way possible. We know that no great shift in power and rights has ever been won by people just asking nicely. We must stand up, and be prepared to suffer and sacrifice, but in the end, I do believe that if we don't change the way this country is governed, we won't have a functioning government on any level within a generation
(Thank you for all your kind words and I am almost done with the first book of Game of Thrones)
I wanted to say thank you from the bottom of my heart and let you know that so far I am ok and still at the park. It has been frustrating being down there. I am not a fan of the tents and it has displaced me from being able to randomly find a place to sleep there. It has limited my being able to sleep there to 3-4 nights a week if I am lucky due to space. Hopefully with these communal tents going up and the occupy abandoned buildings/structures going on I will have a more concentrated place to stay.
I have been writing loosely with TheOther99 but my day job has thus far been a bit restrictive in my contribution.
Well now I am at Nov 5'th - Bank transfer day.
The catch22 of my situation is that Chase was my original lender for my loan - when it was returned to them and I was unable to pay back Mercy - then the balance went on my credit report - Chase then denied my any further credit based on the fact that my loan from them was returned in full.
I applied for several credit cards over the years and was systematically denied and each time they cited unpaid loans and my credit score. You have no idea how frustrating that can be to someone in my situation who needs a line of credit sometimes to buy food or other basic necessities but can't due to not being "trustworthy" of maintaining a balance.
I decided a week before Nov 5'th that this would be the last time Chase would ruin me. I decided that on that day I would close my account and open one with a credit union. MoT and I spent the night on Nov 4'th at a friends house working till the morning on posts, GA proposals and randomly watching videos on Youtube while blues records played in the backround.
Around 8 am I left to head back to my place so I could pick up a paystub and proof of address and met up with them a few hours later. Jesse had to talk to Rosie and left after he opened up his account.
All three of us opened ours at:
The Lower East Side Peoples Credit Union
Fitting since it was the credit union that honored OWS and Goldman pulled out their support for the union during their 25th year anniversary celebration. The credit union was pretty busy. At first they were skeptical of me opening an account there because I only worked part time in the lower east side but as soon as she found out my income was pretty low she said oh forget it and helped me set up my account.
What was amazing was that that day I had maybe 50 dollars to open my account. When I got home I picked up my mail that I had been unable to collect and got a check for exactly 25 dollars. (THANK YOU HEATHER) This allowed me not only to open my checking account but to start a saving account as well. It seemed fitting that the very first check to go into my savings account should come from the people who have helped me beyond measure in a time when the world is going crazy.
After I opened my account and headed uptown with our friend to 42 street. She works around there but it allowed me the opportunity to close my account at one of the main branches. I can't say that anything truly dramatic happened. The banker asked me why I was closing my account and I simply replied that I was tired of being denied credit, tried of overdraft fees, tired of having 0.23 percent interest rate on my saving account and a litany of other reasons.
He was not taken aback nor upset considering they think I am meaningless to them and don't even try to understand my potential or the potential of all the people they never bother to take a chance on. We closed the account together and I thanked him for his time. I walked out of there with my head held high and the thought of debt crashing down around me now lifted. For the first time in a very long time...
I was free.
My hope is that if enough off us keep doing this then they will begin to take us seriously. They may not care about my small personal banking but one day they will and when that day comes I know I will be handling my money in a credit union.