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Logline: A white, suburban, upper middle-class Chicago family plunges into poverty after concurrent job loss and illness rob them of life savings and they must restore themselves to solvency and respectability.
Fall. Get up. Fall Get Up. Life lessons from hockey and a metaphor for life.
It’s February, sunny, and 80 degrees. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have landed in Naples, FL, basking in blissful anonymity. In my new life, in my new backyard, there are flocks of herons, two kayaks, and a mango tree. In my old backyard, in my old life, there was an ice rink, an alley, and theft rings. What is remarkable, is not so much the downshift in latitude, but the steep fall from the upper to the lower rungs of the American socio-economic ladder, and the long, arduous, climb back up again.
I wrote this memoir to dispel popular conceptions and myths about “people like us”, about families who have fallen from social and financial grace to flounder in a Dante -like inner circle of economic hell. Scorned over bad luck and circumstance.
All it takes is one job loss, one major illness, a diagnosis of cancer, for example, and there you are – hungry and homeless. But when there are two job losses and two major illnesses, within a year, even with savings, there is no recovery: one is unable to pay the mortgage, or purchase health insurance, or put food on the table.
Here is an equation for Jerome Powell and the other old white fuck economists:
(MB)(0) + (0) (EO>50) = 0
Where MB = Medical bills and EO = Employment Opportunity over Age 50
It wasn’t our fault. Before you judge that woman with perfect teeth and good shoes buying days-old produce, before you pull her over for DWB, Driving While Black, in a beater Buick in her wealthy neighborhood, before you sneer at her sitting in the waiting room of a Medicaid clinic or at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) School of Dentistry, or before you pity the Mick Jagger look-alike selling his wife’s jewelry on Wabash Avenue, know that, unless you count yourself among the 1% or even the .5%, you, your neighbor, or family member, too, could be victimized by a volatile U.S. market economy and crippled by a dysfunctional U.S. health care delivery system.