The golden sunrise cut through the curtain-less windows casting a warm glow across the filthy carpet, revealing more than a few dust bunnies that had surrendered to the ceiling fan’s breeze. The carpet was dirty and a sign of the hard times I attempted to survive.
Stepping out of bed was the first of many battles the day would bring; exhausting my efforts from the first moment my bare feet sank deep into the grungy carpet. Several months of darkness had settled into my life since the last time I borrowed a vacuum cleaner.
It had been two years since I had a job that paid the bills generated by a ten-year-old lifestyle based on simple cash flow – A history that might never repeat itself. The lifestyle was grounded on realistic parameters at the time. I had purchased my house at such an economical price that I didn’t worry about hard times reducing my wages by 20 or 30%.
But my foresight was shallow and didn’t see the back-to-back lay-offs that followed a pricey divorce. Nor did I give thought to the possibility that my vacuum cleaner would break down, while I experienced negative cash flow.
That’s not to say that I didn’t see signs of hope in my life. Even this morning I was greeted with a “thank you” email for my having shared several thoughts at a recent get-together. A generous Paypal deposit into my overdrawn account accompanied the note.
With a new form of thankfulness in my heart, I walked down the steps and saw a reminder of my babysitting duties. I’ve been dog and cat sitting for two weeks, while my son and his family travel in Wisconsin for a week of business followed by a week of vacation.
The kitchen and dinning room floors, which hadn’t been touched by a vacuum in months, had torn discarded plastic strewn all about from the night before. The dog had gotten into the bread drawer, pulled out a full loaf and two half loafs of bread, and devoured all trace evidence except for the plastic. Not a single crumb could be found.
I picked up several clumps of dirt along with the plastic and wondered how the solid layer of crud might impact my health or cause visitors to flee. I felt embarrassed by the sight, but knew there was nothing at the time that I could do to improve on the situation.
I longed for enough money to buy a new vacuum cleaner, but would settle on finding a friend willing to loan me their vacuum for a day or two every couple of weeks. I figured it wouldn’t be too bad to share, as my parents pooled lawn mowers, camping equipment and snow blowers with the neighbors as I grew up.
One thing is certain, when I finally get back on my feet, it’ll be on the cleanest carpet in town. I might even find myself vacuuming every day for a few weeks. And, if I ever make it back to my previous lifestyle, I’ll buy a couple extra vacuum cleaners to help out any friends who might be experiencing the same economic strains that I’ve unwillingly encountered.