Dick Hunt's Blog

March 9, 2011

A Butcher Knife, a Frying Pan, a Trailer

Filed under: Current — Dick Hunt's Blog @ 8:24 pm

A Butcher Knife, a Frying Pan, a Trailer.
by Dick Hunt, March 8th, 2011.
Back in the fifties, in a town in Alberta I had a phone call from a woman I knew slightly, late one evening. She asked me if she and her husband could come and see me at the Church.  I met them there at midnight on a week night and they seemed somewhat furtive as they quickly stepped into my study.  The woman said. “Can anyone see us here”.  I assured her that they couldn’t and she relaxed somewhat.  It turned out that they were from the Church across the street and they didn’t want any of their friends or their minister to know they had come.

Their problem , as they said, was that their son in law had attacked their daughter with a frying pan and she had come home to them. Would I help?  I suggested they might give me the son in law’s phone number so I could talk with him.  They did and I called him at work.  He eagerly came after work that day and we talked.  I asked him if he had attacked his wife with a frying pan and he said, “no, but I was protecting myself with one and she was coming at me with a butcher knife.” He rolled up one of sleeves and he had the wounds to prove it.

I finally  managed to get the young couple together in their own little rented cottage.  It was hard to get around in there for the stacks of furniture and equipment that filled almost every square foot of space.  They were both employed, she in a bank and he in a farm machine agency.  They were sure they had the world by the tail , with two pay cheques coming in. They had set out to spend, both of them independently of the other, and everything they wanted on the pay later plan.  And they were really paying, away over their heads. That was what they fought about.  They had panicked.  I sat down with them and suggested that they should go through all their purchases and return everything they couldn’t afford.  They said, “but we have made down payments on it all”.
I said, “you have to let go of the down payments and the items if you want to save your marriage.”  We got paper and pencils and went through all their bills and contracts, deciding what they had to give up and what they might keep.  We did a simple budget plan, based on their rather low incomes from their first ever jobs.  When we had pared all the excess of payments from the  available income from their two jobs, and discovered that they could still pay their rent and buy groceries, they heaved big sighs, gave each other big and tearful hugs and followed up on the plans to call their debtors and arrange to send back the masses of goods. I bowed out of the matter and they probably benefitted greatly from their foolish spending spree.  I never heard from the family again.

I have no doubt that many young couples, to this day, are going through the same experience with the lax lending practices and easy credit and that merchants are pocketing  down payments as a result.  At midnight one Saturday in   a town in B.C. years ago a couple phoned me in a panic and said they were going to turn on the gas oven in their trailer and end it all, with their three children.  I knew where they lived and roared off to see what I could do. I was able to stop them, turn off the gas and listen to their problems.  They were recent arrivals from Nova Scotia.  They had borrowed $1,000 from a bank and had taken the full amount out in cash, using it as the down payment on the trailer home and receiving no receipt! Then he had lost his job.  His wife had smashed up their car and she didn’t have a drivers license. She had not reported her accident to the  police.  And  the Trailer Company had demanded they make the next payment or they would reclaim the trailer the next day.  They were really trapped. Without going into details, I went to the police for them. I went to the bank with them, I found them a cottage to live in and friends who paid the rent, found the man another job.  And in a matter of months they went back to Nova Scotia without a word to me.  I hope they learned from their experience.

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