Day thirty-six

The Economy

I promised I was going to give all relevant details that affected the production. So here’s some of my personal story with regard to the economy, and how I encounter it daily.

At one of my appointments yesterday, I met an older lady whose house was up for sale, she told me she had dropped $250,000 from her original asking price – and still has no interest from buyers. She also told me that a relative of hers had recently become homeless.

I hate to start this way, but isn’t it about time we faced the truth? This isn’t a recession its a depression. Statistics are misleading, manipulated and inconclusive. It is so apparent to me as to be in-your-face obvious.

Its the insidious depression. There are many people whose jobs haven’t been affected at all. Their only awareness of the nations economic woes are the increasing numbers of For Lease signs where there used to be thriving businesses, some of them businesses that had been around for a long time, and that its much, much easier to get a park at the mall these days. Oh.. and the average age of street-corner beggars has dropped about ten years. This certainly isn’t their fault it just appears that the rift between those affected and those not at all affected is vast and deep. A problem further hampered by the brave (embarrassed?) silence of those affected.

I work as a commission based sales guy, if I don’t sell I don’t earn. Two years ago if I had been selling as little as I am now at my current workplace, I’d have been out of there in a week. I now have entire months when I have no income. My average outlay for gas is over $200 per week. I’m going backwards, I’m not alone – over half the guys I work with are in the same boat. Why don’t we leave? Because there’s nothing out there in the way of sales jobs. Nothing. So we stay and hope, and it keeps us from getting depressed sitting at home. December/January was so bad, my workplace stocked the work refrigerator with food to feed the sales guys who’d had no income. People were coming into work – to eat.

This phenomenon isn’t restricted to the “unskilled” or those people like myself who don’t possess “real world” degrees – I’ve met lawyers, insurance specialists, portfolio managers (stock brokers), IT specialists and airline pilots, among many other professions who are suffering under similar circumstances. Just last week I met an accountant bemoaning the same fate, and we are in the middle of peak tax season.

The cost of living is rising, day-to-day items are staying at the same price and in many instances increasing. Desperate businesses are attempting to maintain the bottom line. It doesn’t make sense but neither do the actions of desperate people.

The commercial real estate market hasn’t bust yet.

If you want one proof-positive indicator that we haven’t come close to bottoming out; here it is – I haven’t been able to pay my mortgage for a while, if it comes to either feeding my kids or paying the mortgage… I’m feeding my kids. Every month I expect foreclosure or eviction notices … it’s been twelve months. ONE YEAR. Now this isn’t normal and I’m sure there are people, many people with unpaid mortgages wondering when their day is coming..many, many, many people.

My lender – Citi-mortgage. That’s right – the group that’s supposedly thriving. Let’s not be overly generous here and suppose they are trying to keep me in my home due to their altruistic nature. No folks, if they kicked out all the people who are behind in their mortgages there would be waves of people, entire families hitting the streets. I can assure you that if I’d have missed two payments in 2007 they’d have started foreclosure proceedings. My guess is that right now they can’t keep up with the backlog of defaulted properties or if they did take action on those defaulted properties their bottom line wouldn’t be looking so hot; not to mention what it would do to the nations confidence level in the economies “recovery”.

I will stay here while I can – it’s good to have a roof over your head.

When I said we have no budget …I meant we have no budget. To be able to conceive of and complete this project in the current economic climate is a testament to the commitment of the men and women who are driving it forward with belief and passion. Every week is new and exciting. We are going to do great things.

You might think I would be depressed, but on the contrary I am invigorated and I’m amazed by the people who surround me who want to work and be productive making high quality, creative work.

I didn’t choose to produce The Bloke Show by accident. I have many partially completed dramatic works. Right now we all need a laugh. The great stage and screen actor Laurence Olivier was once asked which was more important: tragedy or comedy? His reply, which was immediate and unequivocal, surprised me at the time. Comedy.

Boy, was he right.


About Simon

Simon Houghton creator of The Bloke Show started life as a baby, going on to become a boy and then a man, at which time he became an actor. As time passed he went on to be a director, later still he became a sales guy, then a business owner. Most recently he regressed and became a writer. Then a driver, then an actor again. Decisiveness is not one of his strong suits.
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