How My Dad Has Survived

We all know that it is tough economic times out there. That isn’t a story at all. But one of the people who has been hit most hard was my dad. So here is his story and how he has survived.

The story starts 16 years ago. My dad is married to his third wife and they are expecting a daughter (my sister). I’m 13 years old at the time. After my sister is born her mom leaves my dad. Turns out she was only staying around long enough to use him to make a baby. She was 37 when my sister was born, and desperate women do desperate things it turns out. She took the baby and went back to Southern California where her and my dad met.

He’s living in Kentucky at the time and has a very decent job. He’s moved up the ranks in his company and is now the director of Kentucky/Tennessee/West Virgina area.

However, the divorce devastates him.

My dad starts to do some really stupid things. REALLY STUPID. I was young at the time so I don’t understand the exact details. But as far as I can tell there are some sexual discrepancies that happen as well as/in addition to some vacation time being taken to visit women in Russia. The details here are VERY hazy as I wasn’t really old enough to understand them and I’ve never asked my dad about them. This was a low point in his life so I don’t think he’d really like to rehash them – also, it was 16 years ago, it is far in the past.

Somehow my dad manages to find a job in Florida. He lives there for a few years at an average job. He’s making a decent life for himself but not great. The problem? He had been making a lot of money and had been the boss. His lifestyle and personality are used to this, but his paycheck and position are not.

Eventually I graduate high school and decide to go to college in San Diego. Since both me and my (then) 4 year old sister are in Southern California my dad moves there.

Enter in 9 years of going from job to job to job. I don’t think my dad stayed at a job longer than 9 or 10 months. Either they fired him for trying to control things or he quit because his boss was an “idiot”. He worked at Norstrom’s selling shoes. At loan corporations. Sold granite. Designed kitchen remodels. Assistant taught classes in the evenings. My dad had a lot of different jobs.

Eventually he found one he loved: being a head hunter!

The job is conceptually very simple. He works with employers and employees to find jobs for people. His field is very specialized. He works with high level environmental engineering positions. When he makes a match between a company and an employee my dad gets a commission of 10% of that employees yearly salary.

Since these positions are highly specialize, this is usually around $10,000 per “match” that his company would get – and then he’d get around 60% of this. At some point my dad decided: “Why should I work for a company and get 60% of this money when I can work for myself and get 100%?”

So that’s what he did. He started to work for himself and within two months he had closed his first solo deal.

Then, the economy started to go bad.

It has been about a year and a half since my dad has closed a deal. No one is hiring. And no one wants to leave their stable job to go somewhere else. Those are the two things my dad relies on to make a deal.

My dad had to move out of his house in San Diego that he was (thankfully) renting. He moved in with my Aunt because  he couldn’t afford to pay a housing payment in Southern California anymore.

And when I talked with him this past week he told me some of the things he’s been doing to make extra cash in these hard time:

1) He is mystery shopping. Apparently he is REALLY good at it and gets about 2-3 free meals per week. He says my uncle is mystery shopping for this one company that sends him to various places to mystery shop luxury hotels. He’s been to Hong Kong this year doing this – his write ups must be INCREDIBLE.

2) He took a low-paying job to make ends meet. My dad eventually used up any savings money that he had and decided that he had to get some income, even if the job sucked and paid shit. So he was able to get a position at Costco. He hands out samples. My dad. He hands out samples at Costco.

When he told me this, I was actually happy. I was proud of him. I had always imagined my dad to be too proud to do this. And maybe he was for some point. But my dad got a job he knew was “beneath” him because he knew he needed the money.

I can’t tell you how PROUD of my dad I was when he told me he was working at Costco.

It isn’t a lot of money. But it is enough to pay bills, buy food, ect. It also gets him out of the house and talking to people during the day.

So this is how my dad has gotten by these past few months: living with my aunt, mystery shopping and working at Costco.

But he was PLEASED to tell me that he closed a deal this month. I’m not sure if this is a high paying deal or a low paying deal or what: I’m so very proud of my dad for sticking with it.

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18 Responses to How My Dad Has Survived

  1. Jessie says:

    wow – thank you for sharing this with us. It really puts things in perspective.

  2. I am always glad to hear of people that will take any job, and do anything, to keep themselves up and on their own two feet. When I read that your dad took a job at Costco handing out samples, the biggest smile came across my face. No job is too small or beneath anyone, as far as I am concerned. Good for him!

  3. Ninja says:

    Awesome post. I was really curious of your dad’s financial situation after your tweet about it yesterday. You have a lot to be proud of your dad for. Not one of us is above a Costco/McDonalds/Movie Theater job. I give your dad mad props for being a productive member of society!

  4. Airam says:

    it appears that tenacity and hard work runs in your family. good for you dad, i’m glad that he found something to keep him afloat during these hard times.

  5. GOOD FOR YOUR DAD!!!

    What a great story.

    I love how he didn’t give up. Yes times were and ARE tough, but he is actually DOING something 🙂

    I agree with Ninja, none of us are above a min wage job! 😀

  6. Life sometimes takes us on adventures we want nothing to do with — glad to see your dad is taking control of his life and doing things his way in this crappy economy.

  7. Carrie says:

    Great story SS4BC! I’m glad to see you Dad is doing better!

  8. Ann says:

    Bravo to your dad for taking control of the situation and atleast doing *something*. I know a few unemployed people who complain that they can’t find jobs and are living via creditcards/unemployment yet they refuse to take a position they deem below them because of pride. I know I’d be standing right there with your dad at costco if I had to! Also, I used to be a recruiter for an employment agency and when the economy went down so did business big time! I totally feel his pain in that area.

  9. That’s a great story. Sounds like your dad is making smart choices again, and not aftraid to do whatever it takes to get by. I’m proud of him too, and I don’t even know him!

  10. eemusings says:

    Oh, my goodness. What an inspiring story – so happy to see things are picking up, and you must be really proud of him! Here’s to bigger and better in 2010.

  11. Investing Newbie says:

    This is an amazing post about your dad! Good for him! I’m glad he is taking steps in this economy to keep himself afloat.

  12. That is a fabulous post.

    Thank you for writing it, and good for him!

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