Meet "Curt" who, as credit lines worldwide were tightening, lost his middle management job in finance in 2006. Of course Curt had no idea of what was to come. He was a good worker, great work and credit history and was lucky to have a nice nest egg saved up. He wouldn't need unemployment, no. He'd have a job in no time so he did what every good American in his position would do. He dusted off his resume, began to network/emailing his resume and paid his bills using his hard earned savings and waited.......for a job that would never come.
Then bubble burst. The market began it's long downwards spiral but Curt, undaunted, continued emailing and living off of his savings....and still did not file for unemployment. Surely something will turn up any day now, he told himself.
For four years.
Four years of bank failures, branch closings, massive consolidations and layoffs.
By 2010 the stock market was clearly rebounding however it was all over for Curt. After four long years he had drained his savings, cashed in his CDs, sold his 2nd car and withdrawn his 401k's one by one until there were no more. Even if he wanted to get back into the market to raise cash, there was no cash left to invest. His family wasn't in any better shape. There was no one to borrower from. Too late to file for unemployment now. That window was closed. His life was collapsing further. His once 760 credit score, was now sub 600. He could scarcely afford his utilities much less his mortgage. He did the only thing left to him. He sought counsel of an Attorney file to Chapter 7 (no assets).
The Lawyer, hearing Curt's plea to somehow keeps his home, advised if he felt he was going to have his mortgage modified, he could leave the house out of the Chapter 7; reaffirm with the lender and therefore not be evicted. If included in the Chapter 7, Steve would have to vacate the property within 30 days of the final filing. Steve had no where else to go and his lender had be so reassuring that he'd be granted a modification. He took the bait - reaffirmed with his lender and filed the Chapter 7. After all, he didn't want to lose his home and he was certain something would turn up soon.
Oh poor Curt.
Having no job (and no unemployment income) he was denied for a loan modification.
Badly upside down in debt now, he hosted what seemed to be a perpetual garage sale to keep the lights on and food on the table. Selling his tools, furniture, guns, even his pool in the yard simply to keep on going. His attempt to sell his home on a short sale was rejected. You see Curt had a 2nd lien holder who would receive absolutely nothing under the proposal AND to add insult to injury he now had enormous tax liens; a result of liquidating his 401k's and not being able to cover the tax on same.
The Spring of 2011 Curt finally gave up. Temp agencies were not even returning his call. Just sending him email links to apply. With his skills five years dormant and his credit destroyed, he must have felt no one wanted him (my opinion not his).
He packed what very little he could into his car, called his lender, told them he was leaving the keys on the counter and he walked away leaving all his life long possessions behind. A totally broken and beaten man.
Fast forward to 2013.
Every month since that day in 2011 Curt says he has kept in touch with his lender. He has given them his addresses as he moves from place to place. His cell phone number WHEN he can afford a pay-as-you-go phone. At some point he was diagnosed as having had "a mental break with severe depression" or what you and I would call a nervous breakdown. He hides from the public, neighbors, friends and family. Shys away from any personal interaction including eye contact. He doesn't want anyone to "see him" hiding behind sun glasses and wishes he was "invisible" doing small painting or carpet cleaning jobs. He's nervous, jumps and flinches at small everyday noises, suffers panic attacks, admits he cries each day and I believe he's now agoraphobic (afraid to go outside). His small cash jobs pay the rent but he still does not receive food stamps or a government subsidy phone. He says he has to retain what little pride he has left.
He's open to the idea of being treated for his depression again but cannot afford it. To hear him tell it, the last clinic he visited estimated his wait time to be 2-4 hours and even then, it would only be an evaluation. He wouldn't receive medication until a subsequent visit. He left the crowded, apparently smelly waiting room after only 20 minutes in a panic. "It doesn't matter" he says, "I couldn't afford meds anyway." Such is the demeanor I feel of many Americans. Deeply forlorn, empty and broken describes him well.
It's been almost two years since he gave up and handed them the keys..........and his lender has yet to foreclose. "What are they waiting for?" he wonders. His death so they can saddle the bill to his children? Indeed what are they waiting for? I wonder as well.