Penniless Penalties

A recent disconnect of my electric service brought home the penalties of the impoverished. One mislaid bill set off a chain of events that will ultimately cost well over $500, strained relationships and a heap of self-doubt. How do people without means continue to exist in a society that penalizes the penniless?

Third Person Past Perfect

There is a charge for falling below a certain bank balance, there is a charge for withdrawing money from a “foreign” ATM, there is a charge for paying with each credit card, there is a charge for paying with cash, and there is the charge of your time to run here, there and everywhere to pay the exorbitant amount required to restore service. I live in an all-electric house with septic and well. When there is no power, there is no water, toilet, light, stove or refrigerator. Electricity is all important. So I scrambled, I texted, I borrowed internet and cash and ultimately walked 5 miles to get the bill paid and the electricity restored. And then, there was the reconnect fee. Missing the deadline by fifteen minutes meant an additional $47 to have the person return. Another fee, another penalty added to the others already charged. And there is a 10 day grace period before an additional deposit fee is due because the bill was mislaid. Unfortunately, the five-year good payment history is void now. We are starting over.

With an additional $100, there is no charge from the bank. With an additional $350, there is no charge from the power company. With an additional $150 there is no ATM fee, or charge for credit card use. Without the extra funds, how do others cope with emergencies and financial deadlines?

Yesterday, a woman and her children were found sleeping in their car in the parking lot where I work. Their belongings surrounded them, created pillows for the young children asleep in the rear seat. I was grateful a customer notified us of their presence and grateful to know the phone number of the agency most likely to help them. I was saddened to know the panic the mother must have felt to live in her car to hold her family together.

Emergencies occur every day, people suffer loss of job, home, and belongings. That should be penalty enough without  the outrageous fees added. I am grateful to friends and family. We are grateful to have enough, grateful to live in our home and work out arrangements. We are also committed to helping those who have no other resources, live in their car and are penalized for falling behind.

I wish there were others willing to eliminate the penalties for being penniless.

 

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3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized, Women

3 responses to “Penniless Penalties

  1. mary mattson

    Wow Kris, what a horror story. I’m sure like me you didn’t just say ok and bend over and get fudked…! I would have had a total meltdown and asked to speak to everyone in charge, and done it loudly. Did you write your story to the local paper? I don’t know who can protect us from these companys that have us by the balls. Everybody hates the government but they are supposed to be our watch group in situations, oh thats right they did give our money to the banks that the elec. co. wants them to hold onto to your money to get interest, which you don’t get. Thats infuriateing, I’m glad you made it thru without any fellonies against you. I would have been sooo close to physical, cuseing retaliation. Otherwise, I hope your doing well and its all behind you. Luv, Mary

    ________________________________

  2. Kris, I’ve been where you were — and not in the too distant past. I feel, sometimes, that we non-affluent people, and millions like us, are simply bumps in the road to society. I, personally, do not feel like a “bump” but when I ask questions like, “Can I pay you half now and then….” or “Give me just two more days and I’ll have the …..”. My words, all of our words, are “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

    Neither you nor I chose our current situation and we’re scrambling like hell to just reach the curb. I understand exactly where you are/were and if I could , I’d go with you to the Electric Company and hang out all day, sending ugly messages to them in Morse code, using a signal flashlight!

    Continue walking, the sun in your face. Breathe.
    It’s gonna be a new day!
    Love,
    Joyce

  3. Thanks to all who read these posts, your thoughts are always welcome.

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