The other day I was in Wal-Mart when I ran into a friend of mine, Chad. He told me he'd lost his job early this year and was thinking about leaving the state, but couldn't. When I asked why, he said, "What do we do with our house?" Good question. He's put feelers out in places like Colorado and Wyoming, but doesn't think he can sell his house. If he lets it go back to the bank, his credit is ruined for a decade. He's actually part of our story on News 10 at 11 tonight (Wednesday). It's putting a face on the desperate need for assistance from the government. The night I talked to him was the same night of the Obama prime-time press conference. It was funny to hear Obama repeat what some of the folks in Elk Hart, Indiana had told him earlier in the day. He used words like "terrifying" and phrases like "I just don't know what I'm going to do." They were the same things Chad said. He's working with Michigan Works and hopefully can land something, but I feel for him knowing he has small children and is a proud guy.
Other friends and neighbors who work for Gm are in the same boat. They wait every day for the next round of layoffs if they haven't gotten the axe already. One thinks about moving, but again is anchored by their home. They built it a few years ago to be their dream home and if they try and leave, statistics show they won't be able to sell it. And even if they could they'd get much less than they owe leaving them with two mortgages wherever they land. These are Americans doing things the right way-- paying their bills and mortgages on time-- and getting crushed by an awful economy and mistakes made by freewheeling Wall Street execs with their private jets and million-dollar junkets to Vegas and the Caribbean and parts unknown.
I walked into a favorite spot of mine to grab a bite tonight, Submarina, only to find the door locked at 7:05. I read the sign at the store on Edgewood Boulevard next to Sam's Club to discover they'd shortened their hours for the second time in less than a year. Luckily, they opened up and hooked me up with my Tuna wrap. I gently broached the subject of how things were going given the earlier closing time. Things weren't so good. They are down to just three employees, but they did get some good news recently. They will have a shop open at Spartan Stadium this fall. That must be a weight off the owner's shoulders, that seem to be heavier every time I see her. Opening a small business in hopes of doing something you love only to see it on the verge of failure. The place is a nice little shop, with great ambiance and a friendly staff. But there are so many options and when everyone is saving it can seem like a lot to drop $8 on a sandwich.
Luckily, one instance where fortunes turned just in time. For the others, I guess they sit and wait for the stimulus plan praying that the influx of money into the state economy somehow trickles down to them and their kids. I know I'm getting sick and tired of depressing news everyday-- both at work and at home.