With the economy as it is, even the lucky folks who still have jobs are really feeling the pinch. You can feel for the people, like Coborn's workers when the store closes next week, who won't have much of an income coming in at all.
The bad times of the Great Depression come to mind. I still remember relatives who lived through those times telling absolute horror stories about what they needed to do just to scrape up a meal. One meal. Tomorrow, to them, was another story.
The tough times also remind me of a bit by comedian Louis C.K. talking about being broke. He talked about his bank charging him a fee for not having enough money in his account. It got to the point the fees put his account at "Negative $10."
"That means I don't even have no money now," Louis said. "I wish I did! I wish I didn't have anything. I wish I just had nothing, but I have less than that. I don't have none. I have not-10. If it's free, I can't afford it! Somebody comes up to me, 'Take this, it's free.' 'That costs nothing, I can't afford that -- it's more than I have.' I've got to raise 10 bucks to be broke."
It's hilarious but true. It also makes you think about all those profound statements and quotes about money -- "The love of money is the root of all evil."
Or how about, "Make money your god and it will plague you like the devil"? Even the Beatles, who by now have amassed more money than God or the devil, were heard to lament in their early years that "Money can't buy me love."
But if you're like me, I'd like to know, first-hand, if all those cautionary statements are true. It's getting to the point in life when you kind of turn a deaf ear to all those nuggets about the virtues of frugal living from Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. You rarely read profound quotations from anyone but people who are famous, and, hence, very likely wealthy. Easy for Ben and Tom, or Donald Trump and J. Paul Getty to expound upon money. Trump actually says that money, to him, is just a "way to keep score."
Wow, don't we all wish we had that luxury?
Most people work hard, and most do their best to live within their means. But our system today doesn't make it possible to do that. Try helping two kids get through college and prepare to put a third in an institution of higher learning on the contents of your change jar and the savings account with $1.46 in it.
So we hope for the magical day when money isn't a worry. When we can sit back, with the bills paid and the savings account adequately padded for the month, and think about what to do with the extra few bucks we have at our disposal. But too many of us are sitting around with those few bucks, worrying instead about how to get the growing pile of bills paid.
We'd all like to be, first and foremost, altruistic -- even philanthropic. But we can't right now. Too many obligations, too many responsibilities, and, yes, too many regrets about bad decisions in the past.
I'd like to feel my spirit calmed right now by the knowledge that money can't buy me happiness, but right now a lot of us will settle for less worry.
The one quote I can't seem to get out of my head came from Oscar Wilde: "When I was young I used to think that money was the most important thing in life. Now that I am old, I know it is."