That was a beautiful and very touching article. Thank you.
As I learned from personal experience, the best thing to do is to call your creditor. By late 2010, 18 years of credit-card abuse finally caught up with me and I could no longer juggle my cards to keep up my payments. When I read a book that advised to call your creditors whenever you were in danger of not making a payment, I was baffled at first - but when I started doing it myself, I found that, indeed, my creditors appreciated me being pro-active and were always willing to agree to extensions. Unfortunately, my financial situation became catastrophic and I became so scared of continually calling my creditors that I stopped. They kept on calling, though - and when I didn't call back, they started sending letters. Yet, even when the letters finally made me call back, I was even more stunned to find that the people I spoke with were polite and even sympathetic. During one discussion one caller even kindly asked how I had gotten myself into my situation, and it took me a moment to respond (I told him the truth: I'd been a fool). No creditor I ever spoke with turned me down or rejected me. They always thanked me for taking the initiative, and we always worked something out. Believe me, I fully sympathise with what you're feeling right now - but as others have said here and as I found myself, be upfront and contact your creditor. It's the right thing to do, they'll most likely work something out with you, and afterwards you'll feel much better.
In September 2010, after 17 years of credit-card abuse and nearing $150,000 in debt, I finally reached the end of the road when I found that I could no longer juggle my cards to make my payments. I started going to DA meetings, I established contact with creditors and I sought financial counseling - but most of all, I hoped that I could find some way to get myself out of debt like in some of the remarkable stories I had read. But weeks passed and I found that it wasn't going to happen. I had too little to work with, and I had left it way too late. Soon, overwhelming fear drove me to stop contacting creditors and returning their calls, not checking my mail for three weeks and wondering what the fuck I was going to do. Just before Christmas 2010, I finally Yahooed a concept that I was utterly terrified of, especially as I knew nothing about it - bankruptcy. Fortunately, thanks to a great website that explained everything, I soon discovered that bankruptcy wasn't the end of the world - and that for me, it was the only realistic option available. Thus, with help from that website, I put the necessary paperwork together and on 14 February 2011 the Australian Government officially declared me a voluntary bankrupt. Two years later, life continues to get better as I keep on learning and succeeding with how to handle money better. There have been hiccups along the way, but I am getting there.
Sadly, both of my mother's parents died years before I was born, but my paternal grandparents played a big role in my early life. Nanny died when I was 17; a few years later, Pa (a World War Two veteran who at one time had worked four jobs to support his family) had a massive stroke that he survived but very cruelly left him severely disabled for the last seven years of his life. This was a great article that brought back many fond memories of two people who I wish were still here. Thank you very much for writing this.
I've never been much of an alcohol drinker, so it's never bothered me that some people at bars and pubs don't drink booze. And as for folks who occupy a space for a long time and nurse only one purchase, that doesn't bother me either. I'm a long-time occupier myself - but if the person in question is a regular and especially not causing any trouble, I don't see a problem (perhaps I'd think differently if I was the business owner, but I'll cross that bridge if I ever come to it). Some places in the US don't charge for non-alcoholic drinks? Wow!