Daily Archives: March 30, 2011

Bankruptcy: Rabbit Wonders Who Fell Down the Rabbit Hole?

Who is Filing Bankruptcy?

I love this chart. It’s from 2008, but it really does give a nice window into who exactly is filing bankruptcy? In my world of student lending that’s a hot topic because in most cases you can’t get rid of a student loan by filing bankruptcy.

That may be slowly changing with the state of the economy and the plethora of predatory lenders who have saddled heedless borrowers with huge debt. That’s not to say the borrowers didn’t have their eyes wide open when they jumped into that swimming pool of molasses and then couldn’t get out.

I just read an essay called “The Frivolity of Evil” in a book called “Our Culture and What’s Left of It”, by Theodore Dalrymple. Dalrymple takes a dark view of society and he’s a little on the crispy side in his observations, but I took away an important point. A lot of humans make choices, really stupid choices when they know the outcome will be bad. They do it In The Moment. It’s easy to think about NOW and let the future sort itself out.

That pivotal place is where a lot of factors intersect.  Dalrymple interviewed a lot of women in terribly abusive relationships who had multiple children and  multiple partners. In every case the women knew the man was a very bad choice as a father and partner and still chose them for immediate gratification, hoping blindly things would work out.

In this instance, the subjects were all low income and coming through his clinic in England for treatment, but if we take that same thought and apply it to people who know on some level the loan they are taking is a bad choice, it makes sense. Personally, I have talked to  many students over the years who are desperate to finish their educations at any cost. They are just sure that diploma is the magic bullet that will make their dreams come true. Sadly, I don’t think that is the case in many instances and definitely not in this economy.

In my days at a university, I knew a 400 pound woman who got a teacher’s degree to teach first grade when she couldn’t climb a set of stairs to get to her classes. Of course she couldn’t get a job teaching rambunctious kids, yet the school eagerly took her promise to pay and didn’t counsel her on her prospects as a teacher.  The dilemma:  It was politically incorrect to mention her weight but it was  morally indefensible to leave her in debt to the tune of $30,000.00 she could never pay.

Things like this happen all the time. We live in an ivory tower in academia, we are proud that we  welcome students, change lives and make dreams come true. Still, I don’t think we do a good job of explaining to our students that reality has some nasty bitey teeth that never let go of your leg if you don’t get a job and worse, default on your loans. 

 Personally, I think schools are culpable in students’ failures if we don’t accept responsibilty for teaching them fiscal sense and counsel them on the reality of the jobs they want in the workplace that exists today. Like anything else, some students will show up on the door step knowing already what money is and does, and others will be lost and clueless, ready for that dip in molasses and a swim in the sea of bankruptcy.

I think thousands of us in the campus based lending and collections areas of schools know exactly what has to happen, but getting anyone to listen is a whole other fish fry. I’m seeing more and more about financial literacy these days and I’m really glad after being one of the voices yowling in the wilderness for years.

How does it happen? Who is successful? I intend to find out…

Welcome to the Aquarium

Journal entry October 1, 2006

Welcome to the aquarium:The eagle has landed, well…not exactly an eagle. At present more like a goldfish. Terry’s short term memory is shot. Like said goldfish he swims across the bowl turns around and it’s all new to him. He is now living only in the present. If he knew you before he knows you still. If he just met you, you will have to be reintroduced three minutes from now. Needless to say we are working very hard on helping him make those missing neural connections.

On the white board on the wall in his very nice room I have written out: ” I am in Olympia, I am in St Peter’s rehab center. I had an accident with my motorcycle in Montana. I hit a deer on 9/13/2006.” I remind him to read it every now and then. He can read, its halting, but he can do it most of the time.

This is all very odd and heartbreaking, he can carry on a perfectly lucid conversation, but if some piece is missing his mind supplies the missing piece out of some abstract memory which results in some unfortunately hilarious answers. I have every hope that the course in miracles will continue and he will begin to recapture those missing bits of his brain. I told him he now has the first valid reason ever not take out the garbage–he literally cannot remember.

Christmas should be easy too–I can give him the same present every three minutes and have a wonderful money saving holiday.  If I couldn’t laugh and see the humor I think I would cry like a baby and I really don’t want to do that– so please bear with me and don’t be appalled at my blackly humorous take on all this. I am not cold or unfeeling. I love this man and I’m like a bear with one cub these days, I need to remember how to smile and laugh and trust God and myself and all of you and Terry, it will be okay.

The folks at St Peter’s seem to be very nice, very dedicated and focused on rehab. I cannot leave him alone for a couple or reasons–number one, he pulls his C spine collar off. If I tell him his neck is broken he says he understands, looks me in the eye and yanks it off. This means all night long as I try to sleep in the chair next to his bed I listen for that velcro rip, jump up and explain it again, and again, hoping it will stick this time.

I am so looking forward to the help everyone has offered and I hope by Monday to have a central coordinator for “sessions” with Terry. I am finding I cannot do it all–right now I am caught up in just unpacking and getting myself reoriented to home after 16 days away–and still trying to be at the hospital half the time. Torin is trying to cope but I know he is shocked and scared and trying to grow up really fast.

I have stacks of mail to go through, thank heavens most of it garbage, but having to figure out the insurance, the paycheck, the bills, and Terry’s side of our life is all consuming.  I am deeply grateful to everyone who has stepped up and offered to help with Terry so I can actually get some stuff done.

Last night I was at the hospital with Torin and Terry and I got about three hours sleep. He slept soundly until midnight and then tossed and turned and kicked off the covers and got sideways in the bed and had to go to the bathroom and, and, and, until 3:30. I will warn you Terry sitting is not for the faint of heart. He is better at walking every day but still he is a little out of it as far as remembering to tell someone he has to go the bathroom. If you are not a strong person and you want to sit with him–make sure you know where the nurse’s call button is. I just sit him up and haul him off myself, I don’t even use the big white strap they gave me, that’s just too much like carrying a refrigerator around on my back. Having raised four boys, this is just sort of déjà vu on a big scale. Please feel free to scream over sharing–but this is the true story of TBI, traumatic brain injury. It’s not pretty, fluffy and romantic like in the movie 50 First Dates. It’s a grinding minute by minute process and remaining positive is the key. If this man can be yanked back into the world by just strength of will it’s a done deal.
Each night seems to be a bit easier as he gets his days and nights sorted out. Physically he is doing really well. It’s looking like he may have re-chipped an elbow that was already giving him trouble and his ribs and back keep him miserable no matter what position he’s in. He’s doing remarkably well and I have hopes that this is a trend that will continue. 

Keep those prayers revved up, we need all the help we can get!