Several months ago I was sitting at my desk working on crafting an outline for a project I’d been engaged to liquidate. It was late, the building and office was quiet, a good time to put my right brain to work sans interruptions of phone, appointments and so on.
Placing thought on paper, my concentration was severed by “…Curtis? Are you in there?” A voice from around the corner of my office, followed by the sound of a closing door. A familiar face appears in the door opening to my office. A fellow tenant in the building, an Attorney, and he has a real estate question. He knows of my experience and he asks for a few minutes of time to discuss an issue he’s dealing with on behalf of a Client. The central focus of his practice is Bankruptcies. Like so many Folks in these troubling economic times, he’s providing counsel to a couple who is suffering severe financial stress/distress. The Client runs a Plumbing and Electrical Contracting business with 12 employees, most of which are home owners. The seismic effects of the economic shakedown are making their way throughout the economic ladder and the Attorney simply asks “…what do I tell them…what options do they have?” He said his Client list is becoming nearly unmanageable as the requests from at risk Individuals mount! From the tenor of his voice and the expression on his face, it is clear that his altruistic approach is becoming quite familiar with the nature of fatigue and exiguous alternatives. “I’ve never seen it like this and I fear this is only the beginning…” he says with an expression in his voice that I equated with the emotion a scuba diver must feel when he/she finds themselves at depth knowing that their tank(s) are about to provide the last of their precious resource!
Sadly, I’ve no arcanum to offer, no magical elixir or wand to waive though I truly wish that I did or could. He and I both know that in the “BK” process the option of a “stay” is available however, in an environment such as the one we find ourselves in, we know that the inevitable is, ultimately, around the corner. I told him, the best option is to get the name of the Lender, contact the “loss mitigation” department and cut a deal. Get a restructuring of the Note and live to fight another day or two. The “Feds” are quietly yet with an urgency I’ve never seen, directing the System to do what they can to curtail the seemingly unending flow of Foreclosures!
We spent a few moments visiting and discussing various issues of the day. He inquired as to my economic prognostications and what I thought about the upcoming Presidential Election. I told him that I felt the financial markets were soon to implode citing, among others, various market indicators and the increasing number of signals coming form the various Investment Firms in New York. The collapse of Countrywide (absorbed by the goliath Band of America), Bear Sterns (absorbed by JP Morgan-Chase) and there’s further indicators that the fledgling Washington Mutual and Wachovia are is next in line! It’s inevitable I told him, sooner or later, a system that feeds on itself and the unsuspecting ultimately runs out of sustenance. As to the Election, I fear that Obama will win. I said, “I know your and Obama supporter and I respect that position. It’s not that I necessarily have an issue with Obama (I do) but more so that he will win because the options (alternatives) are far worse!” Even more so, I firmly believe he actually doesn’t want to win! By the way, for the record, I don’t for one moment think that McCain is any better! I find myself increasing irritated with listening to Politicians chattering on/about issues to which they have no fundamental understanding nor background to suggest that they do! I’m equally disturbed by a Public that is so willing, despite the evidence to the contrary, to accept what the Politicians say as if it were so! He said, “…you know, I feel the same way, but I’ve got to HOPE that Obama will deliver on his promise even though I know he’s just another Political miscreant!” He paused for a second and before leaving the door to close behind him he asked if I’ve seen our resident vagrant prowling the building! You see, there’s a homeless person that takes cover from the elements (nightly) in an area at the rear of the building. It is a section of the complex that is covered and he’s adopted as his sanctuary from the elements. Occasionally, in cold weather, you might (even) find him asleep in one of the bathrooms and I’ve no idea how he manages to get in the building. Unless you are a night-owl, as is the case with me and a few others, no one would ever know he was there. A few of us simply refer to him as “Bill”. I’ve asked him his name several times, he simply responds “…when you’re a nobody, what’s a name….”
I never see Bill during the day so I’ve no idea where he goes or what he does. I’m not sure that he stays at our building each night either. However, from time to time, I’ll be at a stop light and I’ll look to the right and there he’ll be, standing at the corner looking right at me. He’ll begin to cross in front of my car all the while with his eyes on me. He traverses my position seamlessly reversing his bodies direction and walking backwards all the time with an unbroken focus on me! Then he’s gone! Every few weeks I’ll find him sitting on the curb next to my car. As I come around the rear toward the drivers door, there he is! He looks up at me and says “…share some ‘g’ man?” It was likely three/four encounters before I figured out what “g” was! I would ask him, “you want what?” During our early encounters he would look at me and utter something and then just turn and walk away. Finally at one point, he said, in response to what to him must have been an incredibly obtuse inquiry, “…you know man, green, cabbage, you know, dead presidents!!!” How stupid of me! Yes, I do “…share some ‘g’” with him.
At first glance this offering may appear to be a free-form expose. I don’t intend it to appear that way. It may only be my own inability to compile a cohesive sense about what lingers, to me, just below the surface of my comments represented afore. Consider the frustration and distress of a Couple, not unlike many others, struggling to hold on to what they’ve worked for in a system that they believed in and a man (“Bill”) who lives his life as he does likely because he feels he has neither! I think that, sadly, says it all!
It is not the System that has gone wrong, it is the increasing absence of principle and the medium that has accelerated its excise from the process that is at the core of the issue. Over the years I’ve found that when faced with a problem and in need of a solution I first have to reverse the momentum and retrace the progression back to the point where the anomaly first develops. Hence, the cause can then be identified and a resolution refined.
Without going into a detailed analysis let me just cut to the chase and say this: to much, to little and to late! To MUCH seemingly inconsequential indulgence which has lead to a Pelagian-like indifference, To LITTLE respect for the fundimentals of Natural Law which has lead to the accomadation of the former “indulgence” and the near extinction of what might be thought of as “shame” and To Late it may be as the degree of conviction and courage required to reverse the trend seems to be a sentiment that no longer stirs the Public who, it would appear, seems to have been exhausted by the seemingly endless assault of/by dissiduous ideals!
I’ll close this segment with a quote, as best I can recall, from the movie ‘American President”. The following line was delivered by Martin Sheen and it resonates far beyond what its author could have ever imagined. It goes something like this: “…we don’t just fight the fights that we can win, we fight the fights that need fought!”
At a recent speaking engagement, I left the evening with the following closing comment: “…I am far more grateful than I can express for the opportunity of spending these moments with you and though I may leave this evening and likely not see many of you again, remember this, my being apart from you and you from me is but an illusion. For though we appear to function in distinctly separate corpus we draw from the same well, our hearts find the source of its pulse from the same source and we are defined by that which has created us all! We must resign only to this truth and resolve to resign no further to the impulse that would serve only to lessen what is our best, what is most noble and what is most righteous at our core! It is, after all, our ultimate and most perfect destiny!”
I’m certain, absolutely so, that we’re worth fighting for! How about YOU?
Curtis C. Greco, Founder