Too Proud To Ask For Help


Worried! (Photo credit: photoloni)

Thirteen years ago I helped bury a very dear friend. That is not a euphemism for anything or my trying to come up with some sort of cute remark. It is a terrible, horrific memory that is burned upon my heart. We who loved him dearly took the shovels in our hands and piled the dirt on top of his casket. Under a crystal blue sky we cried and piled the dirt on him and tried to understand why a 29 year-old man had died. For some of you this is not a new story. I have blogged about this many times because it made that sort of impact upon me.

Because when you make eye contact with a mother who is watching you bury her son you don’t know what to do. You don’t know whether to look away, cry, scream, smile or keep shoveling. So for a moment you freeze and realize that you won’t ever forget the look on her face. And even though you know it is not your fault, it hurts knowing that she is watching you bury her child.

I am not sure what triggered that memory. It might be because I found out a friend’s breast cancer has come back with a vengeance. It might be because my understanding is that statistically she faces very dire odds. Or perhaps it is because I found out today that several friends are walking away from their homes and I find myself overflowing with what can only be described as rage.

These are not people who over extended themselves with crazy loans that they took out to buy palatial estates that they otherwise couldn’t have afforded. These are college educated productive members of society. These are people who have always worked and have paid their taxes. These are mothers and fathers who lost their jobs during the worst economy that we have seen in decades. Moms and dads who have fought to get employment elsewhere. Parents who have begged for positions at retail stores and often been turned down for being over qualified.

So they went to the banks and explained that they were interested in receiving a loan modification. They provided documentation of their hardship and told the banks that they weren’t looking for a handout. They didn’t ask for a reduction in principal. All they wanted was to have the monthly payment lowered so that they could keep their homes. It wasn’t a ridiculous request. The Federal Government had bailed out the banks. They had determined that if the banks failed it would have dire consequences. So they gave them money to use to recover.

They gave them tax dollars and instructed them to help homeowners retain their homes. And instead the banks said fuck you to the homeowners and created an incredible mess of paperwork and bureaucracy to navigate. Even though they were given money to cover this. Even though they were helped out of their own dire straits they refused to help people who needed it.

So now moms and dads are explaining to their children that they have to move somewhere else. But the thing is that not everyone has resources to draw upon. Some of these people are leaving their homes to go live in hovels or cars. Some of them have begun the process of trying to qualify for welfare and food stamps.

I have a sneaking suspicion that one of my friends is on that path and they are too proud to ask for help. I know some of his story and I understand much of his frustration. As men we are raised and socialized to provide for our families. As men we are taught that a man who cannot do so is less than a man. It is soul crushing. So I am searching for a way to find out what his situation is. I want to help him. I want to find a way to try and give him a hand up and not a hand out because he wouldn’t have it any other way.

But I wonder and I worry. I listen to conversations and watch the news. I hear the comments from those who think that anyone who is in this kind of financial trouble is there because of their own mistakes. I listen to the things that are left unsaid by friends and I see gaps that make me wonder. And I worry that we are about to see something far worse coming. I don’t say this to sell fear but because when you know as many people as I do who are struggling to find work it is a real concern.

Because it is more than just families losing their homes. It is creating an enormous strain on relationships and I wonder how many divorces are going come from this. I wonder how many couples will find themselves unable to overcome the strain and wonder how all these different things will impact the children.

And as I wonder I look at Bank of America, Wells Fargo and their fellows and wonder why they can’t understand that in the midst of making a profit it is ok to help people. My guess is that no one with any real power cares about this or if they do they don’t spend much time worrying about it because they don’t understand hunger and fear. Maybe I am wrong, but I doubt it.

All I know is that I have had too many conversations with these friends about how rough it is. I am ready to hear better stories. Life isn’t fair and it never will be, but every now and then it is nice to get a break.

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  1. girlygrizzly June 24, 2011 at 1:15 am

    @TheJackB Makes good sense. Planning. Be ready for the moment when the moment is there. You’ll know, you are listening, Jack, you’ll know.

  2. girlygrizzly June 24, 2011 at 12:08 am

    @Faryna It’s horrible and scary right down to my believing soul, but I know you are right. This journey I am on, Faryna, everyone (!) has also shown me hope. Powerful people, powerful in their faith, faith in humanity and what is good and right is who I meet every single day. Some days, I catch myself smiling (so totally not me) for no apparent reason, I’ll think about it and do you know why? All of you people. There are too many really smart, really good and courageous people out there ready to hold out their hand.

  3. TheJackB June 24, 2011 at 12:08 am

    @girlygrizzly @Leon I don’t disagree but I don’t want to wreck his dignity in the process because if I do that he won’t hear what I am saying.

  4. girlygrizzly June 24, 2011 at 12:02 am

    @TheJackB @Leon You are both right. But Jack, Leon is right, letting someone know, actually saying the words sometimes gives so much more than sounds.

  5. TheJackB June 23, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    @planner2015 It is absolutely shameful what they are doing. The banks have been very fortunate that no one has been able to shine a light on all of their misdeeds but I expect that day is coming soon. The administration recently gave them a soft smack on the wrist but I expect that we’ll see something more severe soon.

  6. planner2015 June 23, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    The loan modification program is the biggest hoax played on Americans in a long time. I would love to see someone expose the banks’ intentional stall tactics and shady run-around schemes, and hold them accountable for the anguish they have heaped on the desperate. Makes me angry, too. Can you tell? I hope your friend will let you help. I hope you find a way whether he likes it or not.

  7. TheJackB June 23, 2011 at 10:08 am

    @AdrienneSmith Hi Adrienne. It is nice to see you here. It is a rough time for a lot of people and things aren’t all that easy for those who aren’t in the same trouble as some others. All we can do is work hard and try to maintain a good attitude. One day day things will be different, or so we hear.

  8. AdrienneSmith June 23, 2011 at 9:23 am

    My heart goes out to you Jack, for the loss of your dear friend years ago. That brought tears to my eyes as well because I’ve been there with a friend of mine. It’s been 11 years now.

    I also hate that some of your other friends are having to deal with what this economy has done to so many people. I have been blessed that none of my personal family or friends have been affected by this mess but if they were, I too know that they have not spent outside their means and just grew up being taught to live the American Dream. To them it consists of going to college, getting a good education, getting a good paying job, sticking with it for years, providing for your family and retiring later in life. Man, some American Dream right! I know that never happened for me and I hate that this is happening to so many wonderful terrific people.

    Like Leon said, just let them know that you are there for them and you are hear to listen and not judge. These dire circumstances have happened to some wonderful people who never in a million years ever thought it would affect them. Although I’m sure they don’t find it comforting to know that they are not alone.

    Thanks for sharing Jack. I love your honesty and I so enjoy reading what you have to share with us all. Have a blessed day my friend.


  9. TheJackB June 23, 2011 at 8:59 am

    @girlygrizzly Well, I tend to be a pretty confident guy and just believe that we’ll find a way to wake up and work together because I can’t imagine that we won’t. And because a positive attitude makes such a significant difference.

    There really are a lot of good people in the blogosphere and elsewhere who are happy to give people a hand. Sometimes the first step is asking for it. @Yogizilla

  10. TheJackB June 23, 2011 at 8:57 am

    @Faryna We agree on this. If we don’t find ways to help others it is to our detriment. There is a time to be strong and a time to ask for help.

  11. TheJackB June 23, 2011 at 8:56 am

    @Leon I think that you are right about letting people know that we are around. It is just hard not to be able to do more to help.

  12. Leon June 23, 2011 at 4:30 am

    G’Day Jack,

    I guess what I want my friends-and my enemies- to know is that I’m here. And allowing for a certainly natural loquacity, i can be a bloody good listener if I need to be.

    Just let ’em know that there’s someone they can talk to who’ll listen, try to understand and not judge. Just knowing that, even if they never take advantage if the offer, can be very comforting.



  13. Faryna June 23, 2011 at 4:08 am

    These are strange and difficult times. It is the abolition of Man. And it grows ever more terrible and gruesome by the day. We shall only survive it with the help of friends – old and new.

  14. girlygrizzly June 23, 2011 at 1:26 am


    If this person is your friend, he knows. I feel that bubbling rage that really has no target. It feels like pounding your fists and screaming at the sky for raining today. What I think is that we need to wake up more of our brothers and sisters on earth. There is something a whole lot worse coming. When I see the baffled frustration and fear on my Dad’s face, it makes the whole world scary.

    I began this journey I am on, to save us. To save us from the same. I am saved. I know this and I know the business will be safe and grow again. By finding people like you. Like @EricaMAllison, @MarcusSheridan, @DannyBrown, @JonathanFields, @CatsEyeWriter (Judy Dunn), @KaarinaDillabough, @yogizilla and so many more. Not because of all you have all taught me or helped me or inspired me or even befriended me.

    But, because you have all shown me there are so many people out there (here) that want to help and are willing to help. More, they are willing to stand up and say so. I am proud to have met every single one of you. JackB, I am proud of you. The you, you share with us, with anyone that happens to stop in, however he got here. ~Amber-Lee

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