Friday, November 1, 2013

DBC 1 - The Million Dollar Question

So I'm participating in this blogging challenge and today is day 1.

(FYI All of my posts that start with DBC are for the Daily Blogging Challenge.  Everything else is just random stuff happening in my life that I wanted to share.)

So today's prompt asks if I found one million dollars in the morning and had to spend it by nightfall, what would I do with the money?

In this order:
1. Pay off student loans           - $120,000.00
2. Contract for homeless          -$500,000.00
    Shelter to be built                  $380,000.00
    in Lubbock, TX
   (maybe a couple)
3. Buy my sister a car                -$30,000.00
4. Buy my best friend a              $30,000.00
    car                                        $320,000.00
5. Give it away                        $320,000.00

And here's why.
1. I will never be free to really live my life how I want or do what I want until I am debt free.

2.  Even at my lowest points in life I have always had a roof over my head.  Lots of cities have homeless shelter but Lubbock, Texas does not.  We have what we call Tent City.  That's right, our homeless people camp out, live in tents, most of which have been donated.  And they do this through the deepest parts of winter because that's all they have.  If you're not familiar with West Texas winters, here's an overview.  Extreme cold, snow, rain, and strait line winds that never stop blowing.  Now we're not like the northern states with sub-zero temps, but we get pretty damn close. I know the prompt said spend it, so I said I'd contract to have it built and go ahead and hand over the money to the construction company, which is technically spending it.  I have good connections with some construction companies in Lubbock and while I have no idea what it would actually cost, I know the cost of everything is pretty cheap in Lubbock.  And I also know that if word spread on the news that this project had started and more funds were needed, people would donate.  Most of the people in this community live pay check to pay check so there are few that have the funds to jump start a project like this.  But if I could get it rolling the people of this community would give what they could and it would get built.
(Lubbock actually passed a city ordinance that banned the random collections of tents spread across town and it is my understanding that someone donated a private parking lot for the homeless and "vagrants" to use for "Tent City".  While that was extremely generous and helpful, it shouldn't stop there.)

3. My sister sold me her car when I lost mine in a really bad car wreck.  While she needs a car, she still has a way to get around technically, though not conveniently.  I needed it and she did me a solid by selling me hers for less than what it was worth.  Without that I'd be struggling, unable to do my job, which requires a LOT of travel, and possibly stuck under a car note.  If I could, I'd make sure she was properly situated in something that was safe and reliable to give her more independence.

4. One of my best friends is really struggling right now.  It's a long story but I can relate to her struggle and of all the people in the world she does not deserve what she's going through.  There are tons of things I could buy her that might help but she's like me.  I don't believe in just handing people a fish when they need to be taught how to fish instead.  My friend doesn't need to "learn how to fish."  She KNOWS, she just has no pond and her fishing rod is about to break.  I can't make job opportunities pop up for her, but I know that if she had reliable transportation then she would find a way to make life work for her.  Because that's just what we do.  Life may not always go our way, but as long as we have the tools we need, we WILL make it work.  She is my constant inspiration and even though we have lived 300 miles apart for almost 3 years? now, we talk every single day.  So I'd get her a new car and whatever was left over from the $30,000.00 after the purchase would be used to immediately prepay a gas card for her.  I could buy her a house so she could have the independence she desires, but that's no good if she can't work to pay the bills.  I could just give her the money or pay off her debts, but she wouldn't want me to do that.  She wants to stand on her own two feet and know that the debts incurred from previous school/mistakes/life/hard times was completely paid off because she pulled herself up by her bootstraps and took care of business.  Why would I take that away from her?  Instead, I would help by making sure she had the tools she needed.  If she has reliable transportation, she can work, and if she can work, she will find a way to be successful. I keep telling her that the most successful people in life are the ones life tries to drag down the most.  She wouldn't be challenged as much as she has been if she weren't a big enough badass to push back.  Which she is.

5. The remaining $320,000.00 I would need just a little help with.  I'd have the bank put it all in $100.00 bills and then I would literally wander around Lubbock with my friends looking for people who needed the help and I would spend it on whatever they might need.  This is where I'd need help because that's a lot of $100 bills to dish out before sundown, but I think the community would help me out.  A year ago this time I had lost my job and I was sleeping on a $15 air mattress on the floor in an ancient house because I had already sold my bed and most of my furniture to pay my bills.  An old man randomly stopped and walked in my yard (the gate was hanging wide open because people had just come to pick up the bed) and knocked on my door.  I chatted with him for a bit.  He was friends with some of my neighbors.  Nothing creepy about it and I haven't seen that old man since.  He said he was a bathtub refinisher.  I'm not sure how much money a contract labor bathtub refinisher makes, but I can't imagine it's much, especially by looking at the 1993ish Ford Ranger he was driving.  But he asked why my gate was wide open and told him about the people who just bought my bed.  He asked if I was getting a new one and I told him no.  That I sold it to pay bills and save up money because I didn't know how long I was going to be out of a job, but based on the responses I WASN'T getting from my applications, it didn't look good.  Then I jokingly asked him if he was in need of any furniture.  He said no he had everything he needed and we sat there and chatted for a bit longer.  He got up to leave and I walked him to the gate and he said "You know, I've been where you've been before.  And it get's better." I said "I know, and I have faith.  Just kinda sucks not knowing what the future holds."

He smiled and said "Someone did this for me once and I'm happy to do it for you" and he pulled out his wallet and handed me a $100 bill.  I tried to refuse it.  I had some money saved up, I wasn't completely broke and I knew there were people way worse off than me who could use it.  Hell this guy looked like he could use it.  The people in Tent City could use it.  But he said "No, just keep it. Save it for when it get's really tough."  And I did.  I saved it as long as I could and then I used it to pay a bill or two right before I finally found some employment in January.

I have TRIED to find this guy.  I can't remember his name because well I just suck with names and I never knew what company he worked for.  And the neighbors he knew moved earlier this year.  The other day, in a way to try to pay him back, I pulled a panhandler off the corner of a street.  After a few minutes of talking to him, got him to give me a strait story about his situation.  I can't blame the guy for lying.  His sign said need food to feed family.  After talking to him for a bit I found out that he was actually gay and had lost his job and him and his partner were living out of a van, which was the only thing they really had left.  West Texas isn't known for it's tolerance of anything other than white southern baptists.  Not saying everyone out here is a racist homophobic biggot at all.  But if his sign had said I'm gay and homeless not many would have been willing to help.  Regardless of my thoughts on religion, politics, sexual orientation, the facts are that he was hungry.  And in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA that is unacceptable.  I had him tell me where his van was.  It was right around the corner, so I had him and his partner follow me to a grocery store in their van,  Filled it up with gas and then took them inside and together we filled up a cart full with groceries.  Food they could keep in the van with them and that wouldn't spoil, gallons of water and soap so they could stay clean.  After we were done we took everything back out to their van and they piled everything in there and then I remembered, it's starting to get really cold here.  I asked them if they had warm clothes and jackets.  They said they each had a jacket but no blankets, so I gave them two big comforters that I keep in the trunk of my car, just in case I get stuck on the road.

Now before I get chastised and yall start throwing stories out about the danger involved and the people who get killed by hitchhikers and stuff, know this.  1. I had my 80 pound schutzhund trained and VERY protective black german shepherd dog with me.  2. When I first approached the guy, he was standing on the corner of a VERY busy intersection in broad daylight.  And I had my dog at my side.  3. He and his partner rode in their own vehicle to the store and I went and ran tons of errands and hung out with my dog after I parted ways with them at the store one followed me to see where I lived or anything. My big thing is that I will not just hand people cash, I will not buy alcohol, and I will not buy cigarets.  But people should not be cold or hungry. Both of these men had clear eyes, steady hands, big smiles and sad eyes.  They showed no signs of major or frequent drug use.  If I knew of any programs that specifically hire for second chances (ie released felons, homeless etc in an attempt to rehabilitate) I'd have helped these two connect.  But the best I felt like I could do was make sure they had food and blankets.

So in honor of the man who helped me when he had the opportunity, I'd ask my friends to go around Lubbock with me and find people who needed just a little help.  Go to the grocery story and buy some groceries for people, fill up gas tanks, pay utility bills for those who just need a little extra help.  I feel like if we made that public and if I had enough help, I could find a way to spend $320,000 by sundown.

That's what I would do if I had a day to spend $1,000,000.00.  

 - Scarlett