One of the many

For my family and I it started in the winter of 2007. We had a video store that we bought in 2001 and were just getting a new part of the business, a pizza and sub shop in the video store off the ground. I was looking for a way to grow the business knowing that video rental was dying a slow painful death. The food addition seemed like a perfect fit. It did well at first, people loved the food and with our Movie and a Meal Deal it seemed we were going to make it.

This was about the time the economy started showing signs of weakening. Talking to customers I found that it wasn’t anything we were doing, it was the fact that money was getting tight, people were losing jobs, getting their hours cut etc. By the spring of 2008 I knew we were in trouble, not just our business but the whole country. By summer 2008 it was over for our business. I had borrowed 100k for the food operation and with the slow down in business just as the loans were coming due I knew we wouldn’t make it and the longer we tried to keep the doors open the deeper in debt we would get. I had already been working 14 to 16 hour days 7 days a week for almost 7 years. There was nowhere in the budget to cut out more expenses. We closed the doors and went through bankruptcy in November. We lost what we had built up over the past seven years. I thought at the time that it couldn’t get much worse than that, I was wrong.

I found a job that lasted exactly four months. The day I became eligible for health benefits and such, I was fired. It took thirteen weeks before I got a hearing with unemployment where they found I was wrongfully terminated and gave me benefits. We had absolutely no income for thirteen weeks and a family of four to support. I was out of work for a year and a half before desperation drove me to get a job that I was not physically capable of doing and was no where near what I needed to earn in order to keep our heads above water. I went to work as a laborer with a tree service. Here I was at 46 doing work that most twenty something’s won’t or can’t do because it’s so brutal and dangerous. Besides the daily aches and pains, I was injured a number of times. A chainsaw cut to my forearm, hit in the eye requiring stitches to my eyelid, a couple of hits to the face and head, it was just a matter of time before a serious crippling injury. Not to mention a boss from hell working us like dogs with unsafe equipment in extreme weather conditions and even being forced to drive vehicles that not only weren’t road worthy but I had no license for. I struggled daily through the pain knowing I was destroying my body but with no alternatives you do what you have to do.

While all this was happening of course you still have to deal with life. I had a sister fighting for her life with stage four cancer. She was given a 30% chance of survival. My wife’s mom was also diagnosed with lung cancer while being treated for breast cancer at the same time as my sister. Thankfully they both pulled through after the long difficult battle with the cancer as well as the radiation and chemo treatments. Then of course there was the daily struggle to pay the bills, keep the collection people off our backs and try to have some kind of life besides just surviving.

Now here I am at 48 and out of work again. I had to quit the job, not only because of the fact that I was physically broken down, but I got into a minor accident with a work truck that spilled diesel fuel which by law, should have been cleaned up by a hazmat crew, but instead was covered up by my boss so he wouldn’t get in trouble. After being forced to help hide that incident I couldn’t continue to work for this guy. I knew that either I was going to be hurt, killed or maybe even put in jail because I was trying to make a living with an employer who’s only concern was how much money he was making or losing.

While all this was going on we were in a fight with the banks to keep our house. Well we lost that battle as well in September this year. So here we are, in our late 40’s with nothing, starting from the beginning, with even less than we had when we first met 23 years ago. I think back to the good old days 15 to 20 years ago. I was making 73k a year with full benefits and even a retirement account. All of that now seems like a dream.

Now having just related our story I have to say that we may be down but not out. We know that no matter how bad it gets, there are others out there who are going through worse. We at least have a roof over our head and family who have helped us. There is also the one thing that has brought us some fun and joy in all this depressing mess, Sammy with the Wabos and Chickenfoot! We have had a number of great moments over the last couple of years thanks to them and it makes you feel better for a little while at least. We don’t have cable or satellite TV, no fancy iPhone, we live as simply and cheaply as we can but like the song goes, we do what we gotta do when we gotta do it, and we do whatever we have to in order to see Sammy, the Wabos and the Foot!

Finally I have to say, Sammy 3½ letters is brilliant, a masterpiece! When I first heard it I said somebody has to put that on-line with a shout out to our government to listen to it and pay attention. WE ARE HURTING OUT HERE AND IT’S YOUR FAULT!!!! All you politcos who claim to represent the people, stop caring only about how much is in your pocket and DO YOUR JOB!! I say Sammy, Joe, Chad and Mikey for president! Even without experience you guys would do better than what’s happening now.

I’m willing to work, BUT I NEED A JOB!!!!!!!!

Don Bowry

Donald Bowry West Warwick, RI 7+ years Small Business Owner 20+ years Retail & Service Industry Management 7+ years Manufacturing Management