Today marks the US national holibob of Independence Day. Us Brits are responsible for inventing most of the world’s greatest ideas – like Penicillin, the internet, the chocolate bar, the light bulb, the reflector telescope, the electric motor and the Jet engine …ohh, and the good ole’ US of A. Only fitting then that I write a little something today and hope in vain as I sit typing and drinking my ‘Monkey tea’, that I can find inspiration somewhere in these fingers for a tenuous link between this US holiday and my life and specifically the bankruptcy that was finalised yesterday.
Last year while at work in my public sector, salaried position, I turned up for work as normal – early. My strict time keeping regime and my slight OCD/Perfectionist personality traits, always made sure that I appeared in work fully ready to go with at least 30 minutes to spare. The particular work I carried out started like any other, with a cup of tea, milk but no sugar. I gave sugar up about 5 years ago when I added up how much tea I drank in a day and calculated that I was consuming 26 bags of sugar every year for the last umpteen years; sugar was immediately ‘kicked into touch’. I carried out all my pre-work administration and bang on the allotted hour of ‘clock in’, I executed a well drilled and accurate flow of events that I had been doing daily for 7 years. During my 7 year period with this particular public sector department I had been given 11 ‘well done’ awards for work above and beyond my station. These are departmental level awards given by a senior manager in response to a letter of thanks sent by the ‘user’ of the service I provided. I was also officially commended and awarded 3 times, once for assisting in the recovery of a ‘life at risk’ person, the second for the management of my particular asset and staff in an extremely ‘out of the normal’ life saving situation and finally for saving that particular life. He is still with us today. My final commendation was awarded to me by the most senior person possible in the UK for my Government run organisation. I only put this detail in here to give you a basic insight into me as a person and the fact that I am a ‘do’er’ and I work hard to achieve good results, not only for me, but for the people I have spent the last 25 or so years serving; the public.
That particular work day started and finished as any other over that 7 year period, but the next day was very different indeed. I returned to work to receive a complaint from someone I was trying to help the day previously. My first ever complaint in 7 years came in by Email and sparked a chain of events that lead me to today, my Independence Day – July the 4th 2017. Exactly 364 days after that complaint letter arrived on my managers virtual desk.
I awoke this morning strangely, feeling cleansed. I’m livid and ultimately disappointed (by my former employer and another particular Government department, on what they did incorrectly) by the situation that surrounds my bankruptcy, but now that today is the first day of financial freedom, I feel cleansed. It literally is Independence Day in more ways than one. I have to rely on myself now to manage everything in a way I have not had to before. I have to take responsibility for all of my future actions now with regard to this financial quagmire that I find myself up to my waist in. The independence I now have today, is that I do not have to worry about a bailiff turning up at my door. I do not have to panic when I see those red letters start arriving and knowing that I have no money in the bank to pay them. I do not have to worry or stress over the fact that my credit card will reject or that my ‘premier’ bank card will be swallowed up by the (also invented by the British) Cash machine. My worries are not over by any stretch of the imagination, “no Sir” as the Americans would say. I now have many new ones that cannot and will not be taken lightly. Some are serious and possibly life changing and some are just considerations. Things like :-
- Will I ever own my own home? I mean, who’s going to trust a bankrupt person with a mortgage in this day and age?
- Will I ever be able to even rent a home in the future, due to the credit check that the letting agent will carry out, with the numerical result clearly coming back shaped like a great big, sugar covered, American favourite, coffee time snack, favoured by many a New York Cop?
- Will I ever be able to purchase anything ever again on Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee OM KBE FRS FREng FRSA FBCS most famous invention?
- How will future employers see my job application weighed against others of similar skills, with the word BANKRUPT written upon it?
- Will it totally wipe out my professional skills, along with the fact that I have just invested my life, time, and all of my savings over the last 4 years to ‘up skill’?
- Will I ever get my mother and fathers funeral playlist’s back on Spotify now that I cannot pay from my (now closed) bank account? What now happens to my Apple pay account and my PAYPAL? I have already changed my phone from contract to Pay As You Go, so that’s ok.
- What if I now have a family/personal emergency? The credit card was a great tool for that eventuality.
- How will I hire a car, book a hotel room or a flight in the future without a credit card? I have loved ones and family in the USA – what now?
- How will I pay the London congestion charge? On research, there is no other way to pay except by using a Debit or Credit card, and I will only be able to get a cash card now.
- Will I be able to work for anybody again that requires a security clearance with financial checks?
- Will any woman see me as a ‘good catch’ when I explain the reasons for not having a credit card or debit card and the fact that I now don’t even have a car? (It will be repossessed within weeks.)
- How do I now afford the legal costs to fight my former employer for loss of earnings etc for putting me in this position in the first place?
The list really could go on and on. Like the US v UK in the war of how to pronounce the word Aluminium, which is another great discovery by the UK’s Sir Humphry Davy in 1808. My Grandma and Grandad had one of his famous mining lamps, identical to the one pictured above, on their windowsill for 70 odd years. My mum had it for another 10 years and It now resides with me (sort of) in a box, along with all my other ‘life trinkets’, cocooned in bubble wrap and cardboard in the loft section of my brothers Garage, 250 miles to the North of where I now sit. To be fair to our American cousins, Sir H. Davy did first name it Aluminum, exactly how they still spell it and pronounce it to this day.
I now have no bank account, no credit card, no debit card, no credit rating whatsoever, and a major loss of self worth, personal pride and dignity. I can’t tap my card on a hand held device to buy the paper or a drink, I can’t pop it into an ATM (using an American term just because of the particular day) to get a few quid out, and I certainly am not able to book, hire or order anything or indeed obtain credit of any sort, But, I have no debts at all anymore and I have no worries building up around me, like my friend Steve shouldered for years before he took his own life under the immense pressure of financial burden.
I am blessed really, and like my Grandparents lamp once lighting the way for weary, tired and pneumoconiosis ridden miners of the mid 19th Century, the freedom of starting again shines ahead.