Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Last Week Of The Month And Money Is Tight

When a person is on a fixed income, as I currently am, every purchase has to be carefully considered. I make it a point to pay all of my bills promptly on the 3rd of the month. After that, there's not a lot of money left over. It's usually enough, but there's not much of a margin for error when I decide what to buy.

Last month was a little easier because I received a $35 HEAP payment. And this month is also easier because it's the shortest month of the year. After spending $8 today, I have $17 left in my checking account. That amount would be larger but I had to buy a new computer mouse, a new mouse pad, and a new of slippers. With sales tax, that's just over $22 I spent on the three items.

I've talked a little bit before about being grateful for a couple of stores where I can get some really good bargains. The bodega up the street is always a nice place if I want an inexpensive snack. I can get an oatmeal cookie and a soda for $1.25, which is really nice.

I also really am grateful for the Dollar General store that's a few blocks from here.

Today, for instance, I got a national brand of pasta sauce for $2 and anywhere else locally, it's priced anywhere from $3 to $3.50. Add in some green beans and I have a decent meal that's about as inexpensive as a good meal can be.

Let's be honest, shall we? Most people in this country do not have enough cash to do everything they want to. Far too many of us have too little money to take care of the things we need to.

We recently had two more chain restaurants come to this area, and I applied online to both of them. I don't know the numbers for the first, but I saw the manager of the second being interviewed on local news.

He said that for 88 positions, they received 700 applications.

Think that over, for a minute.

I'm sure this area isn't the only one where those kinds of numbers come into play.

Someone very close to me has offered very kindly to help me with moving expenses and so, within the next few months, I will be leaving my hometown area yet again.

This time, I don't see myself ever coming back.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Pink Plastic Cup From Boston

In my life, I've had the good fortune to travel quite a bit. One of the cities I truly enjoyed spending time in was Boston. I went there with several other members of the Communications Club from my school, and I enjoyed exploring all of the city's historic sites with the head of our program and my fellow students, some of which had become good friends.

We were invited to tour the facilities at Boston University where we were treated very well. Afterwards, we all had lunch at a deli that was owned by an older couple. They had owned one in New York City for several years, and then had retired when their only child went off to college. She attended Boston University and told her parents that there was a real demand for someplace close to campus that could serve good food at good prices.

So, they sold their house and moved to Boston and opened another deli.

I know all this because the wife, who was a really warm and welcoming person, told us the story.

The food was excellent, and very reasonably priced.

Other places we went to included the Boston Aquarium, a bar just down the street from Fenway Park, and we also took two side trips to Salem. Salem is spooky at night, when the wind blows and you can very easily imagine being transported back in time to the days of the witch trials. In daylight, it's not nearly as dark and foreboding.

One other thing we did was all agree to go out someplace really nice. Some of us wanted to see a show featuring a so-called "dirty hypnotist". This had no appeal for me, and when we agreed to vote on what to do, I voted in favor of going to a comedy club. The vote went that way and so, we went to the comedy club.

The name of it was "Nick's Comedy Stop" and we saw three comedians that night. Two were very funny and one was a complete failure (her career in comedy did not last very long). I don't need to remember the name of the club because I kept the tall, pink plastic cup my drink was served in.  I rinsed it out in my hotel room and decided it would be something neat to keep my spare change in.

As I type this, I'm looking right at it. I've had it now for close to nineteen years and I'll probably keep it until the day I die. Every time I move, the cup moves with me. It's been placed carefully in a suitcase and it's been tossed haphazardly in a plastic shopping bag. But, no matter what the circumstances of the move, the cup comes with me.

Wishing you a good rest of the week, dear reader.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Recent Random Encounters

Over the last couple of weeks, I've had three encounters with complete strangers that linger on my mind. So much so that I feel a need to talk about them.

There was the new neighbor who knocked on my door at 1:30 in the morning and quietly apologized for bothering me. I replied that it was fine, and he then asked if I might have a cell phone charger he could use. He showed me his cell phone, which did in fact need to be charged.

I asked him to wait a moment while I looked for my charger, and remembering that I had a spare, when I found it I gave it to him. I told him he was welcome to keep it. He thanked me warmly and wished me a good rest of the night. I've since talked to him in passing, as well as his girlfriend. They're young, she's 17 and he's 19. They're lost souls who are trying to find their way in this world, and if I can make things just a little easier for them by being a good neighbor, I'm glad to be able to do so.

Two days later, I was approached by a woman in the supermarket, who very quietly asked if there was any way I could help her and her young son get home. I replied that there was not, as I do not own a car, nor did I have money to put them in a cab.

I felt really bad, especially because if she had seen me just ten minutes earlier, she and her son could have taken the last bus of the night. I would have given them the $3 needed without hesitation. When coming out of the supermarket, I saw them walking up the street. I have no idea what happened to them after that.

 And two days after that, in the same aisle of the same supermarket, there was a man who, I'm guessing, must be in his late twenties or early thirties. Trailing him by a few feet was a little girl who looked to be two, maybe three years old. Her father asked her what kind of potato chips she thought they should get, and in her excitement to look at all the choices, she almost ran right into me.

Before her father could even begin to say anything, the child looked up at me and said very clearly, "I'm sorry". I smiled at her and said that it was fine, and she smiled back before going to her father's side.

I don't want to turn this into a post about politics. What I do want to do is ask a single question, and most definitely, that question is not a rhetorical one.

What kind of a nation are we now creating that the little girl and her father, and the lost but looking teenagers, and the mother and her son, will live in long after I'm gone?