Thursday, September 07, 2006

Neighbors. They Come, They Go...Under

We lost a neighbor three houses down last month. They just packed up and vanished with whatever they could carry, abandoning their new home of less than six months. No foul play, they just bailed. They had both lost their jobs and couldn't find new employment.

We have a little retirement place (3br, 2bath) about twenty-five miles southeast of Dallas. Our "subdivision" consists of a long single row of new to recently built little brick houses along a county road, each on a long, narrow acre in a rural setting that has--on it's list of attractions-- a large dose of peace and quiet. Every house is different, since the contractor allowed everyone to chose a floorplan and exterior from any source, the only limiter being how many square feet you could get for your money.

Our neighbors are a pretty representative slice of Americana. We have young, middle-aged, retired, white, brown, black and yellow families scattered up and down the line of houses, and except for the retirees (us), they all have a job somewhere in the area with which they keep afloat and raise their familes.

The train whistles and the occasional yapping dog are small prices added to the cost of living, and generally ignored.

Along the same lines, we lost another neighbor two months ago just four houses up the line. Same sort of thing, lost their jobs, couldn't find any work, so they just left.

Keep in mind these are all new pretty little brick houses, with A/C, modern kitchens, finished garages, underground utilities, etc. These people had all qualified for their mortgages, so their financial situation --until recently--must certainly have been good.

Our next door neighbor, who has been here a bit over a year, just came over and asked if she could use our dryer. Well, of course, but what happened to hers?

It's not her dryer. The electic company turned off their lights at noon today, and she had just hand washed some clothes for tomorrow and needed to get them dried. In a normal neighborly response, I ran an extension cord from our garage to their house so they can have a couple lights and a fan tonight, and keep the frige running. The loss of one's refrigerator can cost hundreds in spoiled food.

Turns out her husband lost his job. He's an auto mechanic, but the shop where he worked found another person to do his job for less. The town(two miles away), being a small rural community, has no jobs available, except for a few national chain fast food joints... so he's off tomorrow to Arkansas to look for work. Don't ask me why. I don't know, he probably doesn't either, but he knows people there, and right now that's about his only hope.

Our neighbor told us that to have the light s turned back on will cost $747.01, not including the past due bill. They can no longer be "trusted" by the local electric company to pay their bill on time, so this "deposit" is now a ironclad requirment. That's a back breaker for them... a job at McDonald's will never provide enough for anything close to that. This is more than their monthly mortgage. This they just cannot pay.

So, they're probably going to bail also... three neighbors, three familes, in three months who have lost the American dream.

And all because of lost jobs.

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