The closeness of the metal
makes my breath bounce back in my
face. Get me the hell out of here.
I somehow get out of the safe and I am in the lobby of the Board of Trade building with a couple other traders. They are younger. I am older. What a nightmare to be older and no money and no real skills to get a job. Life sucks and then you die. Please let me live another couple decades free of this kind of worry.
Reaching reaching reaching
Wanting wanting wanting
Why does there have to be such
strife? Why do you always have to
It’s the American way. That’s why.
It’s the American way.
It’s 2:25 in the middle of the night. I went to bed early so don’t feel too sorry for me about waking up in the middle of the night again. Sometimes I go to bed real early, like I did last night, and I sprawl all over the bed. Alexis lets me sleep. She doesn’t come to bed and ask me to move over. If she does that, sometimes I wake up and don’t go back to sleep at all. So she sleeps in another bed. It’s my fault.
This is a vestige from the days when I traded in the pits of the Chicago Board of Trade. If there was one thing that you had to do as a pit trader it was to show up to work in a relatively balanced state of being. You could get away with going out late and getting up at 4:30 and going to work once in a while. Maybe once every couple weeks. But if you bypass rest for too long, eventually you lose all your money.
I lost all of our money twice. Those were tough times. I’ve also had other brushes with doing it, like when I bought the local newspaper. My dad also did the same thing. But he only did it once. That was enough.
I can tell you that you learn a lot about yourself when you lose all your money. You’re sitting in your kitchen looking at the bills. It’s 10am. It’s raining out. It’s damp and cold and there is no sunshine. The sky is a gray mitten. You go to the refrigerator. You shake the carton of milk. There’s just a little bit left. You swig from the carton.
Good. No more milk. Now what?
One time I lost it all, there was a knock at the door. I’m not kidding. I was sitting there at the kitchen table in our 700-square foot house. It wasn’t a ton of money that I had lost, but it was enough that we couldn’t afford to continue living in our starter home. We had kids. Yikes.
“Hi, I’m from Allstate insurance company.”
“Hi.” I realized that I hadn’t shaved, that I was an able-bodied male in the middle of the day in my sweats. I smelled.
“There was a hail storm that recently came through the neighborhood.”
“Yes. I remember it.”
“I’m from your insurance company and I’d like to inspect your roof.”
A man in a truck in the driveway pulled a ladder off of his rack and put it on the side of our house. I could hear his footsteps on the roof. A half hour later, the woman knocked on the front door again. I had shaved.
“It looks like you have damage. I am authorized by Allstate Insurance Company to offer you a settlement of three thousand dollars.”
“Actually, I can make out the check right now if you will sign right here.”
I signed. I took the check the next day to the Board of Trade and that made all the difference. Eventually, I left the Board of Trade with enough Johnny to buy the local radio stations and the local weekly newspaper. It was the latter that almost put us in a position to again wait for Allstate to knock on the door.
I don’t know what this experience shows the three or four of you who read my blog. I don’t know what it shows me or if there’s a general moral to the story. There isn’t. Sometimes a woman knocks at your door with a three thousand dollar check, and sometimes she doesn’t. It was a miracle of sorts.
Later that day, I went on the roof and looked for the damage. There were these little marks, like liver spots on skin. I had a roofer come out. He wanted to replace the whole roof for four grand. That was out of the question. But he did say something that caught my interest –
“You’re probably good for another five years, though, if you do nothing. Those are just nicks on the shingles. They’ll hold for a while.”
Nicks on the shingles. Music to my ears.
Sometimes you take the world by the balls,
and sometimes the world takes you by the balls.
What’s it gonna be?
Alexis wasn’t too happy that I was taking the three grand to the Board of Trade again. We were living in a small home with kids and one car. We didn’t have a washer and dryer. Alexis sits on the bench now and lawyers call her “judge.” But there was a time when, pregnant, she had to set Jeanie on top of a pile of clothes and wheel her to the Laundromat. I think of this image now and I smile. There’s my pregnant wife, walking, with our little two year old in a wagon. There’s our dirty clothes. There’s our past. I sure as hell hope it’s never our future again.
I live a life of risk and reward. I have, except for stints as a construction laborer and a group home counselor, worked for myself. I started a sprinkler company and I owned a newspaper. I sold Kool-Aid on the corner and I run my own radio stations. I had a paper route and now I’m starting a new media adventure. I can’t tell you what it is or I’d have to hit delete on the keyboard and there would be nothing left to remember.
Like Alexis pulling a red wagon full of dirty clothes and love. These are things that you think about in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep.