I know a man named Tom. Tom is married to Cindy. He is a general contractor specializing in Concrete, in a small town. All different types of concrete. Did you know you can make concrete look like tile? Well you can. You can also make it decorative in all sorts of ways. He says concrete is an art, his art.
I didn’t ask Tom what happiness was to him, but I asked him if he wanted to expand his business more. If he had more help would he want to grow again. You see, he was very “successful” at one point in getting his business to generate 1.5 million annually in sales, in a small population. He was bringing in the money, able to purchase the things he never thought he would, never had at any other time. He grew up without money. So the flow of dough was a new thing for Tom.
Two of his children, although grown, needed some financial assistance and Tom provided that. And then they needed a little more. He says they realized dad could help out and knowing that kept them “at the nipple”. His oldest grew up in the struggle. There was not extra money to help her out. If she wanted to go to college, and both Tom and Cindy were all for that, then she had to work hard and get a scholarship, or a job to pay for it. He told me that she was a little go getter. She even started saving her money to buy them (him and Cindy) a car.
Tom made a financial error and a character error in other people. These two small errors, combined with an economy that started to bottom out, especially in building and construction (concrete is the foundation obviously), started his bottom out. It was a brutal ride down. Their home received a quarter of a million dollar lien on it. He could no longer afford many of his small luxuries, let alone the electric bill monthly. Cindy tried to pick up more work waitressing. She had a not so awesome knee that started causing her more and more pain. Standing all the time made it hard. Credit cards stopped getting paid, bills went unopened, the moral of life lessened. His license got suspended for unpaid local taxes. This became a problem. How to do jobs, which you need to get out of the money pit, without an active license? So you get the drift.
On top of all of it, Cindy got tired. Tired of the stress. The stress of money, the stress of bills, the stress of Tom being stressed, the stress of trying to dig yourself out of the dirt, but the dirt is beginning to over take you. Cindy sought an escape, and that she found. Where or in what? In pills. Her “I don’t give a sh** pills”, as she called them. So life really got intense for Tom and Cindy, in more than financial ways.
Tom now still has a lien on their home, and is still “paying bills”, but he’s pulled himself out of some of the debt. It wasn’t easy. Especially with him and Cindy not working together, nor even being able to communicate as they used too. Cindy is working on her problems and trying to take care of what she needs. Tom continues to work in the “mud”….concrete. He no longer does a million plus in sales, or has a big staff, or makes what he used too. He is small scale in comparison to what he was at one point. That’s why I asked him if he would want to grow again, if I helped him get there. And Tom said no. He said you know that was an experience and fun, but to be honest with you, it brought more problems than it was worth. I like what I am doing now. The money is less, but sanity is the trade off, and it’s worth it. Tom told me he was tired as well. He is 60 and doesn’t have the same flame he once had. But he’s ok with that. He’s ok with living simple and slowly getting his finances in order. He wants to be supportive to Cindy in what she needs to do to make herself healthy again. He wants to be a great father to his kids, and not because he can afford it. Tom’s words were, if I did it all over again, I would do certain things differently. If I have the choice to build it again, do it again now, I choose not to.
I find it so interesting to talk with other people. Our experiences contribute to who we are and what we feel. Everyone has different experiences, which makes their perspective totally different from another’s. I just find it so cool and mind expanding. What is right for me, may not be for you. In all it’s chaos, it’s really quite beautiful.