Growing up, whenever we were in the car at a certain time of the day my dad would flip through the stations to find Paul Harvey. I can still hear Paul Harvey saying, "and now you know...the rest of the story. Good day!"
I recently learned "the rest of a story" from one of our college students:
On the phone, he refused to tell me why he wasn't in school. He had his reasons and I "wouldn't understand." But he did agree to meet me to take care of some stuff.
Once we met up, the story gradually came out:
He was living with his sister, who was taking care of the bills. His life was working out just fine. He was working and going to school. He was doing so well that he received a few promotions at his job. He decided to buy a car. Life was manageable...until his sister lost her job. All of a sudden, he was faced with paying the rent and all of the bills in addition to his own. However, recognizing the importance of having a roof over his head, he did what he had to do...he used his credit card. Recognizing he needed more income than output, he began seeking more hours, more jobs. He was quickly falling behind. By the time he got the three jobs that he now works, he was already too far behind to easily catch up.
His sister is now working again, but still not able to pay all of the bills. He continues to work his three jobs to help with the bills, pay on the credit card, make car payments, and handle any other bills he might have. Unfortunately, having three jobs doesn't leave him time to attend school. He estimates that he will have everything back in order in 8-9 months. Unfortunately that means he will probably be out of school for an entire year.
He had no semblance of a smile on his face when he told me, "Life sucks."
I have to agree with him.
I'm beginning to think poverty is a cruel joke, set up to make people think if they work hard enough they can get out. It seems like the only way to get out is to have someone adopt each person in and take care of all of their financial needs until they get out on their own. Who wants to be taken care of by and become indebted to someone during the time of your life you're supposed to be gaining independence??
I had to tell him how much I admired him. I know where he was and what he was doing 7-8 years ago. The guys he used to hang out with are in and out of jail. Somewhere along the line, he made a decision to make a change. He's been a very impressive young man ever since. When he had time, he would always help whenever I called.
Now, there's nothing I can do. He's going to have to dig himself out. There simply aren't enough individuals to help straighten out people's financial situations so they can get back on track and start afresh. And no one wants to be someone's charity case. People just want to make their own living. Unfortunately, working doesn't always mean that you can make a living.
Through all of this, I pray that by the time he gets out of debt, his motivation to complete college won't have waned.
And now you know....the *rest* of the story.