Having no car to get around can really be a test; to your pride, your independence and so much more. I’ve pretty much gotten used to it to the point where I don’t make any bones about it – for the most part.
You see, about 5 years ago when I was still living in Alabama I was living what we’ve been told is the American dream. A cushy job, making bank, driving a Mercedes – everything appeared perfect. I even met my current husband during this time. Who’da thought it could have gone sour. It was the good-life.
After having been married 18 lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng years to someone who really didn’t care about having the best cars I had always dreamed of owning a Mercedes and just knew I would have one someday. After my divorce I first had a really cool black Mustang with red leather interior. That car was sweet! I had an amazing job in which I had worked hard to attain, was making really good money and was traveling quite a lot with work and those Mustang seats were killing my back when driving long distance. It was great to look at and had superb speed but it wasn’t very practical.
I would occasionally do a drive by the local Mercedes dealership just to keep my dream fertilized and one day I just decided to stop and take a look at a couple newer models. There it was. The car I had dreamed of. Nothing too fancy. A C230 Kompressor. Black leather interior. Black exterior. I sat in that car and took it for a drive and I knew I had to have it. I had always thought some man would buy me my dream car but I was so proud of myself after having been through a very difficult divorce and walking out on everything – pretty much starting over, that I could actually finally afford this car.
I was approved for financing (because I had worked so hard to repair my bad credit from previous mistakes) and drove that car off the lot within a week or so of first test driving it. Did I mention, I loved that car?
About a year or so later, I met my husband Nick. We dated for a while after having been friends for a year and we married and he left his home in Chicago and moved to Alabama. We found an amazing house and bought, moved in and all was good until I could tell things at my job were getting weird.
I was a top salesperson in an industry dominated by men and guys were getting testy, jealous and since I was the only woman, my boss and the fellas got together and decided to throw more work at me, that I could start coming into the office and do a little paperwork along with my other duties. I was livid. After all, I was making this company a decent amount of profit and I felt I had the best work ethics, follow-up and customer service out of all the rest.
I wound up telling my boss, I’d have to think about his offer of more work and laying aside my being able to work out of my home office to come into the corporate office 2-3 times a week to file (or whatever it was he wanted to conjure up for me to do). I took my 2 weeks vacation and told my new husband I felt I was being forced out of my position and that I felt it was time to quit and find something else or start my own business. He agreed and I did. I even left about a 50,000 commission on the table. When it’s time, it’s time. One month later, my husband was laid off of his job.
We wound up moving back to Illinois and taking over our house here that we could not sell (It was in 2009, and the market had crashed) and I left my family in Alabama and moved to a whole.nother.world. and although I had joined a friend’s company and was making a little bit of mulah, Nick was still not working. He has been in the home-building business for over 25 years and there wasn’t any work available in that industry.
We kept trying to pay our bills as we could but eventually we had to file bankruptcy, turn in my Mercedes back to the bank, sell our house in Alabama on a short-sale, and just try to keep our head above water. It killed me to give up that car. It represented all of my independence and hard work.
That was over two years ago and I am still without a vehicle. I haven’t wanted to just go get a junker (no offense to those who own junkers) and I’ve been working from home with my past business and current business so it’s working for now.
I have experienced giving up all pride attached to not having a vehicle, being stranded at the house and asking neighbors if I can borrow their car or have them take me to the grocery store when Nick is working.
I’ve been asked by several of my friends here that I used to meet up with at networking events “Why I suddenly dropped off the face of the planet and never attend any after hours networking events” to which I shrug my shoulders and may or may not divulge the fact that I have no wheels.
Life is tough. The economy sucks ass. People are losing employment that they’ve counted on and trusted in for years. I was one. And then suddenly, the rug seems as if it’s pulled out from under you and you don’t think you’ll ever survive. But you will.
You may have to give up some things along the way. You may have to swallow your pride and ask a friend for help. But you will survive. It may not be the American dream you dreamed of, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started from scratch with nothing. I’ve had and lost and had again. It will come back around.
And those clients that can’t meet me virtually will have to work around my best friend and neighbor Lorrie’s schedule (She’s been so great to loan me her car – along with a few other folks who I owe). That’s what friends do and I am so blessed to have so many wonderful friends and connections, not only here in Chicago, but all over the planet.
Turns out, all I really wound up losing was my pride.
In the end, it could be a blessing in disguise. My twenty-one year old daughter is moving here to Chicago the end of this month. Because my business has expanded and things are getting better financially, I have a little extra to get a decent vehicle now and I’ve been thinking to myself, “Wait.One.Minute. If I don’t get a vehicle, I can honestly respond to my daughters call for taxi (that’s me) to come and cart her somewhere with, ‘I’m sorry honey, I don’t have a car.’”