Formerly 'Rambling with a cantankerous old mule"
One seems to read daily of the anxiety caused by the Euro-zone debt crisis, and of the financial train-wreck in the US. But to be honest, the global recession is also taking its toll here at the bottom tip of Africa – even within my peer group at church.
A few nights ago I went out to supper with some friends and over cappuccinos at the end of the evening one of them (let’s just call him Jude*) started telling us about just how “difficult” it has become for many! Being something of a financial guru, he was recently approached by one of the leaders at church to give advice to a self-employed single guy in the congregation who “hadn’t been able to pay his rent for months” and was facing eviction. The bills had been piling up and he didn’t know where his next meal would come from either, Jude was told.
Feeling really sorry for the bachelor, who also hadn’t had the money to go out socially for months (according to him), my friend offered to take him for dinner, where they could discuss his financial difficulties and try to plot a way forward.
“Do you mind picking me up from home?” asked our bachelor in crisis, Ejit. “I’m trying to save on fuel.”
… … … …
“This can’t be right,” he thought to himself. “But shame, maybe someone is blessing Ejit with a room out back to rent.”
He rang the bell and was greeted by two Shetland pony-sized Great Danes, slobberingly-exuberant in their greeting.
“Welcome to my humble abode,” said Ejit to his nonplussed visitor. “And thank you so much for helping me out!”
The entrance hall seemed to stretch up to the heavens, with a giant chandelier glimmering down at them and upon which Jude half-expected to see God-himself seated. From the hallway he glimpsed what looked like a 70” television screen dominating the sizeable-enough living room.
“Do you mind if I change quickly, I can’t go out looking like this” asked Ejit (who appeared quite respectable, in Jude’s eyes anyway).
“Go ahead,” said the now completely-dazed Jude, half smiling to himself as he thought this must be an elaborate ruse cooked up by his friends. “I wonder where the hidden cameras are. Hey guys, funny one!”
“Bud, come upstairs, I want to show you something,” shouted Ejit. “I’m in the study.”
After making his way up the stairs and through the first-floor’s maze of rooms, Jude finally found the bachelor standing in front of a wall-length display case.
“How do you like my collection?” Ejit asked the quite-dizzy Jude – who was now more convinced than ever that he was the butt of someone’s sick joke.
“I own every Nikon lens and professional body ever released. I know, I’ve got a bit of a problem, but it is impressive, don’t you think?” said Ejit, beaming. “In fact, they aren’t even all here – these are just the most pleasing,” he added, opening the cupboard doors below to show boxes and boxes of more hardware. “Most of them I bought before the financial meltdown, when my business was doing well.”
“But I tracked down the final, most elusive one – this F3 – just two months ago to complete the collection!”
Jude laughed out loud, and then realised Ejit wasn’t joking. Composing himself, he replied measuredly, “Yeeeeeeees. So let me get this straight. You can’t pay your rent, and you need some help and advice, right?”
“Right,” said Ejit, way too quickly and way too buoyantly for Jude’s liking.
“Okay, well, I think I’ve got the answer,” Jude carried on, pausing briefly for effect, “It’s a simple answer, really. Do you want to hear it?”
“But of course,” replied Ejit, while pulling on his Red Bull faux-racing jacket.
“Sell your cameras and pay your rent … You’ll probably have enough money for food too …”
Ejit looked at Jude as if he had just shot him. “What do you mean?” he asked, bewilderment written all over his face.
“Okay, I thought it was simple, but let’s break this down. You live in this mansion alone. You have two dogs that probably eat more than a regular family of four, and you own a small fortune of photography gear. What don’t you understand?”
“But I have standards to maintain, how could I ever invite people around if I lived in a smaller place? What would they think of me? And my dogs … my dogs are like my children,” rambled Ejit hysterically. “… And not to mention this gear. It’s, it’s a set. If I break it up it’ll lose its value! There must be another way,” he ended, with what sounded like a sob.
“Well then, sell it all,” Jude answered, much more calmly this time. That apparently went down even worse – shock and revulsion written all over Ejit’s face.
After that, the evening dragged for Jude. Despite looking for other solutions, my dear friend struggled to give any advice other than “sell your camera collection and you won’t have a problem with rent for months, even years.”
A week later Jude received a call from Ejit to ask whether he could phone the church’s elders on his behalf. “I’m still struggling. Surely the church should be looking after me in this time of crisis,” he pleaded.
“HAVE YOU SOLD YOUR CAMERAS YET?” was all Jude could respond …
… … … …
The mind boggles, especially when one considers all those who are really struggling.
* In the Catholic Church St Jude is the patron Saint of lost causes.