Everyone likes a good quickie every now and then, so here's a shorter than usual article on how the economy is affecting my family. I'll try to make it good for ya, but the news is not all that good...
Kit's Family Food Wars
We've been having food wars in my home 'cause my kids are used to eating for entertainment.
Bored? Reach for the snacks. My boy doesn't get fat because he burns energy at the gym and running after his girlfriend's poon-tang, but my daughter and I could definitely stand to lose a few pounds.
I now lock up our goodies - those jars of sweet orange or peach slices, Oreos and other cookies, chips and cereal, 'cause you know our folks love to get their crunch on, especially my lil' nigga when he has those tell-tale red eyes and the munchies.
"Come on, Ma," he grumbles, "lemme see what's in the closet."
"Nuh-uh, back off."
"Ha-ha," Casie teases. "She's got cookies, but you have to eat a little real food first, 'cause you'll eat them all."
"Yeah, like yo' fat azz won't too," he complains. "Then gimme the cereal! I know you got my favorite 'cause it's your favorite too."
"Eat a couple eggs and toast first," I say, "Then maybe a small bowl. It's cheaper. This shit's expensive. Treat it like a treat. Ain't nobody tell you to start getting high again and eat us out of house and home. Get a job, nigga."
He grudgingly smiles and says okay, but I have to keep the key to my closet in my pocket when he's around. He'll tear through a half box of Ohs! mixed with Golden Grahams in a heartbeat.
I have to keep my eye on Casie too. She's much slicker than Xavier. Girls always are, ain't they? Casie will down a serving-for-two jar of $3.50 fruit in 15 minutes, and when caught, will say, "But Ma, I need Vitamin C!
I wonder if the day will come that I have to lock up the real food... from my neighbors - not my kids.
My Adventure At The Bank
I procrastinated all week in going to the bank. If you're a regular reader, you understand why: I write funny or inspirational stuff but also mix in articles about the impending economic tsunami and political bullshit that's finally going to drown America. We've had some significant and dramatic casualties - ordinary folks like you and me - and it was time to make efforts in protecting my lil' stash.
This morning I had all my paperwork, bills, stamps and envelopes ready. I kicked my son out the house as part of our deal that he'd get up every day and look for a real job at program that has daily classes and tips on how to get work. This is because he's showing all the old signs of sinking like a rock into the gangsta lifestyle - again. I'll talk about that next week.
Then my baby girl, Casie, and I headed for my bank. It was hot as Hades and the parking lot was packed. The bank was crowded like never before, and I mean nevah. There was standing room only. I signed my name on a very long list.
"Ma, we'll be standing here forever," Casie complained.
She was right. Folks wanted to talk with representatives, not simply go to the teller window to do a quick transaction. This included me, who planned to pull out half of my money from my CD.
"Let's run some errands and come back," I said. "If we've missed our turn, I'll return this afternoon. Maybe this is just a weird pre-lunch hour rush."
Even as I said the words, I knew better. Didn't matter. Casie was game and we drove to three different stores to get all the best prices. Since they're close together, I didn't burn up a lot of gas.
Something odd happened at the drug store. The hair braiding salon owner was there; she charges $165 for their fantastic work. Until this past Christmas, Casie and I had a mommy-daughter ritual where we got our hair done together every three months, but I switched to an afro to save. The last time Casie got braids was in late May so she could look good for her Middle School 'graduation' ceremony and parties.
This lovely woman greeted us and handed me her new business card. It's really nice; it's oversized and has color photos of their work. What's odd is that the owner never needed cards in the past. She said the economy is killing her business.
I didn't have the heart to tell her that we were there to buy Casie a $5 box of hair relaxer to save money. I miss my braids and she will too, but I'm really feeling for the sistahs who have been doing our hair.
An hour had passed by the time we were finished our errands. Casie said, "Mom, you know we've missed our turn at the bank."
On a hunch, or maybe desperation, I drove into the bank parking lot anyway.
"If I'm not back in three minutes, come on in," I said.
I was lucky. My name was next! I couldn't believe it. The place was still packed too.
The bank manager, whom I know from being a customer there for years, was the one who assisted me. This is because her staff was so overwhelmed that she had to. While I told her to remove money from CD account, I asked her why so many people were here.
"Things are crazy," she said.
"Yeah, I know," I replied. "That's why I'm here too. IndyMac went down, word is that Wachovia is next and others are on the list. Tell me more."
She leaned in close. "A lot of these people are coming from Wachovia," she whispered. "They're opening accounts here, you understand why..."
"Yeah," I whispered back. "They're in deep trouble. What about here?"
"If Bank of America goes down, we're all going down," she said worriedly. "So far, so good."
I put my money in my safe deposit box. IndyMac Bank is a lesson: the feds don't announced when a bank will be shut down, they just do it, and the feds lied as this news weatherman described:
This means customers can't get inside to their boxes either until the Feds re-organize. People were pissed and the banks felt a need to restore order, and in California this week, by the hidden barrels of police shotguns in those squad cars that will be locked and loaded. Folks don't quite get this yet, but that's what cops really meant when they warned the crowd, "Remain calm or face arrest."
Hmmm. Might be a good time to buy a tear gas mask at Sunny Surplus... and throw in a bullet-proof vest. White folks rioting to get their money if shit really hits the fan might make our 60s civil rights protests look pale in comparison...
Still, my bank seems a safer place at this point than my mattress, and if our nation gets past this crisis, I can always open another CD account. I ain't holding my breath; we're in deep do-do.
This afternoon I looked at the nearly $530 cashiers check I have for my car insurance company. It will insure my auto for six months. What if they go under because their bank fails? Businesses are not FDIC insured for over $100,000, and so far the spin is they'll lose up to 50% over that. So if my auto insurance company goes bust because of their bank, will this mean I can't drive my car? Should I pay only three months instead of half a year?
And is my pension money safe from when I worked in the government and will it still be sitting there until I'm of retirement age? I could pull that out now, but shit, that's really crazy. Or is it, if our society gets much crazier?
I have a check already made out to my landlord for August. At least I'm secure that if my bank collapses, my rent is paid until then.
I never dreamed that We The People would have worries like this in my lifetime.
The past several generations of working and middle class Americans have really been insulated from problems the rest of world faces. No wars on the homeland, and the security of knowing that if you work hard, at least your money is safe and you'll have a roof over your head and enough food to satisfy basic hunger.
This next bit of bad news is a doozy because someone actually spoke the truth. If this doesn't clobber you over the head with ideas on how to plan for the worst while hoping for the best, you're a true ostrich. Here's an excerpt from this afternoon's San Francisco Chronicle:
As the Bush administration proposes backstopping mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with a $300 billion line of credit and Congress contemplates another economic stimulus, the question is who will bail out the government?
"People seem to think the government has money," said former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker. "The government doesn't have any money."