Penniless

If You’ve Been There, You’ll Never Forget It

The other day, I spent some time with my wife, doing one of the things I despise the most. Returning bottles and cans at the Kroger. Well, I don’t really mean returning, I mean crushing and destroying. Like most bottle return departments these days, Kroger’s is self-service. This results in a lot of bugs, sticky hands, jammed machines, and frustration levels going through the roof. I have always said it’s one of the worst-paying part-time jobs ever! However, as I was slogging my way through this thankless task, it reminded me of a time in my life when things weren’t as rosy as they are now.

As I detailed in my article Independence Day, I went through a pretty rough time after being laid off from my job of almost 26 years. After my severance pay and unemployment ran out, I had no money coming in at all. Thankfully, I have a wonderful wife, who supported me during that zero income period. What money I could scrounge up on my own, was usually from loose change and pop can returns. However, the flaw in that financial plan is that you have to have cash, in order to buy pop cans and thereby acquire loose change. A vicious cycle if ever I saw one. It’s really easy to feel sorry for yourself in that kind of situation. Or, you can get off your butt and do something about it.

Driving for Uber and Lyft got me out of the house, but it certainly didn’t do much to improve my financial situation. However, you can’t put a price on having a little jingle in your pocket. This became seed money for my loose change and pop cans income stream. You never appreciate having a steady income, until Friday ceases to be payday, and becomes just another day without money. I will never forget how that felt. Although, occasionally, I still lose sight of it. Usually, while pumping gas on a freezing morning, or when I’m stuck in traffic. However, all I have to do is return some pop cans or drop some loose change in a Coinstar machine, and I’m right back where I was, penniless. Now, I value every single penny I earn. I think if more people felt the same way, there would be a lot more gratitude and generosity in the world. But, that’s just my two cents.

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Fireflies from Heaven

Gone But Never Forgotten

It’s been a few weeks since I had to say goodbye to my beloved Skittles. As anyone who has ever lost a furry family member will tell you, there are constant reminders that stab you in the heart. It was the main reason I donated all of her stuff to our vet as soon as I could. That ride home was heartbreaking, but I knew it had to be done. The first time I pulled into the garage and suddenly realized she wasn’t on the other side of the door, just about killed me. However, as time goes by, it does get a little easier. Until you get hit with another memory out of the blue. Then it hurts all over again.

It seems to me that the biggest problem is you want to tell everyone about your loss as fast as possible. That way you won’t be constantly reminded of your pain whenever someone sees you without your shadow. The other day, I had a double-dip of misery. First, it was a dog we had met on our walk a couple of times before. Another beagle named Bandit who looked so much like Skittles, I almost lost it right there on the sidewalk. I explained to his owner that we had to put Skittles to sleep, and her kind words just seemed to make it worse. Then, at the end of the street, I ran into an old friend. She asked where Skittles was and the wound ripped open again. As we talked about my puppy, it brought up memories of her beloved Trixie as well. Before long, we were both choking back the tears. Just brutal.

We said our goodbyes and I finished my walk. Twilight fell as I made my last turn home. Then I saw them. Fireflies. Hundreds of them. Last summer, I wrote a story called Firefly Trail. The walk that inspired that story was taken with my crazy dog. Since she was always in tune with how I felt, I’m sure she sent this beautiful message from Heaven, to let me know she was okay and missed me too. This article is dedicated to anyone who has lost a pet suddenly. Please know that it does get better, and that’s okay. Moving on is part of the grieving process. They will always be with you.

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