Huntress of the Lens


Friday, September 4, 2009

Straight teeth, imaginary money and a mountain of debt

Well I payed the giant past-due balance at Molly's orthodontist, plus a little more out of her child support and we are going to see them today. We all agree that her teeth look great and it's time for the braces to come off and the retainer to go on. I'm a doctor sometimes, and a professional CSI, but I have to admit to not really being an orthodontist. I look at her teeth though, that used to have the two giant front ones sticking out like bunny teeth and are now a straight white row of star-power glitter and I think they're beautiful. Any fine-tuning they want to do they can do with a retainer. This is all thanks to Grampa, if he hadn't given me the money to pay for the first half she would still have her original teeth, the ones she was so badly teased for when she was little. Teeth play a large part in our self-confidence, the way we smile says so much about how we feel about ourselves.

Turns out that Western Dental, the Wal-Mart of dental care, will "recontract" you one time as a courtesy. No one has ever mentioned this to me before as they watched me fall farther and farther behind as I tried to pay the remaining twenty-six hundred dollar balance myself with more occasional help from the Big G. If we get to write a new contract then I want a whole new contract. Not one that just finds a way to refinance the original 24 month treatment plan that mysteriously morphed into 32 months, but a "Thanks, but we're done now." kind of plan that will somehow come with a lowered final tab.

I hear commercials all the time when I'm in news relapse and listening to CNN on the car radio, talking about credit card debt and debt in general. I don't own a single credit card. My personal debt, not counting the braces is just around one thousand dollars. I'm into a car we really could have afforded if we hadn't had to tack what we owed from the last car we couldn't afford onto the loan, but at a much better interest rate. But as debt goes, compared to most americans I feel like we do fairly well.

"Do you owe more than twenty thousand dollars in credit card debt? Let our company help you pay pennies on the dollar!!" I hear these commercials all the time. "In trouble with the IRS? Do you owe ten, fifteen or even fifty thousand dollars? Let our company help you settle this debt for a fraction of what you owe!!" I don't understand this. How does anyone get that far into debt? My little orthodontic balance seems like a pittance next to that, yet it can still keep me up at night. If there are real companies that are settling enormous debts for pennies on the dollar then who is paying the rest of the balance? Is debt real in the first place?

What about all those loans for the millions of homes that have been foreclosed on in the last year? Where did the money for the loans come from, and what happens now that they are not going to be repaid? Is the money even real? Can those pennies on the dollar companies help with the billions and trillions that went to the car companies? My dad the Republican would say that my kids and my grandkids are going to pay for that, but was that money real in the first place? Why weren't billions and sasquillions of dollars given directly to us to spend on things to stimulate the economy? I would have flowed it all back out there. I don't understand money other than the idea that no matter how hard we work we never seem to have enough of it and it's only prayer and miracles that get everything paid every month.

That's a macro view, the truth is in my micro world I'm going today to "re-contract" with Western dental and even if they drop my payment from one hundred dollars a month to fifty it's going to be a challenge to pay it. I keep praying for that thyroidectomy so I can be healthy again and go back to overworking myself and possibly catch up, but how long is the recovery time for that? Take me out of the game for more than four days or so and my personal economy crumbles. Michael knows he needs a higher paying job, but he's just enrolled in college which is a really good long-term idea for increasing our family income so I have that on the list of extremely important things he's doing. We're not in giant debt, but we ride in the stern of the boat of debt that we're all in.

There was a time, possibly in my own lifetime that a man could get a job, keep his wife pregnant and staying home with all those kids and support the whole thing with his one job. I wouldn't stay home with kids as my career unless I could tranquilize them and make various art all day, but you see where I'm going with this, don't you? What happened? How did we become a country of rats on wheels running and spinning and no one able to satisfy the mountains of debt we all seem to have incurred? Don't make one single Democrat or Republican blaming comment to me, it's happened over the administrations of both parties. Save it for someone of your own party and go out for beers and bash the other.

As usual, I need to back down from my elevated view, lower the camera view to my own life and look at just what's before me. I'm taking Molly to the orthodontist today, and I have a chance to restructure one of the small debts that plagues my own life, and hopefully get the braces off her teeth. She's beautiful, and she's done with them. It's been almost three years that they've been on her teeth and they originally said it would be two. I'll get the rest paid off then go back to wishing I had a giant mortgage to pay. Call me what you like, but don't add consistent or rational to your list. Do you know I've paid approximately 132,600.00 in rent on this house alone in the last 13 years? In this market that would have bought a house. The auto bail out money may not have been real, but that rent I paid sure was.

1 comment:

  1. Love this post. The problem is, even with the temporary stimulation of the car industry, we all spent money that wasnt there, and there was enough greed to go around and unfortunately there is a whole generation of people that have been conditioned to live beyond their means. I have one credit card. Its 300.00 and whats sad is I needed that so I can have SOME sort of credit because I really didnt have any and even to get an apartment you need to show that you are "credit worthy". Its not enough to have consistant work history and a history of paying your daily bills on time. Its scary how close all of us are to our financial security crumbleing.. I know in my instance Im one paycheck away. I feel so bad for people who have to worry about life sustaining medical shit.. when you throw that in the mix its no wonder depression and anxiety are at all time highs. I feel your pain, mama. Gabby is going to be due for the orthodontist soon and its not gonna be pretty. I just had to buy out of pocket dental insurance.. not cute.


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