Okay, I'm going to bring this to the LJ hive-mind, because I can't think where else to bring it. I don't know if anyone here will have any ideas for me, or anything else for that matter, but I need to tell my story on the off-chance someone does.
For those who don't know, my marriage ended in the spring of 2011, not long after my father entered a nursing home once his mental and physical needs outstripped the ability to meet them at home. I'd taken four years off from the workforce to care for him, with my then-husband's blessing and help. However, the stress had proven a bit much, and we'd realized that our differing styles of dealing with it made us Not A Good Match. We had no kids, and the split was an amicable and mutual decision. My ex-husband and I remain good friends. However, over is over, and we've been trying to move ahead with our individual lives.
We both live in Cleveland, Ohio, an area that took an especially hard hit in the past two recessions, and whose job market has never really bounced back. The area is still in economic free-fall at least in terms of job availability and pay rates. To be quite honest, we had to remain living together as platonic roommates after deciding to split up, with the exception of a brief period of months during which I shared a house with another friend. I'm in my ex's spare room again now, and we'd both like to be able to change this. It isn't that we don't get along, but we'd both prefer the privacy necessary to build new lives, post-us. He wants to move to a smaller apartment by the end of this summer, and I need to be able to get my own place by then if not before.
I've been trying to arrange to relocate out of Cleveland for a couple of years now. This town has little for me in terms of work or any kind of economic future, and the long harsh winters are doing a real number on me physically. I'm perfectly healthy, but I've had some injuries to knees and ankles that left me with a touch of arthritis, and six months of winter are a bit much. Not to mention the bronchitis I get every winter. I'd tentatively set my sights on the Baltimore, MD area (winters are shorter and milder there, and I’d had the thought of getting state residency so I could perhaps afford to go back to college online though their state university system via University of Maryland University College for a career change) although I remain open to other options as well, depending on certain factors of economy, climate and geography. I have a few friends in Baltimore and scattered between there and DC.
One now-former friend/acquaintance near Gaithersburg, MD recently lost his wife to cancer, and planned an extended trip to Europe to clear his head. Knowing I was interested in moving to Maryland, he asked me to house-sit for him while he was gone, as it would give him someone to watch the house and give me an opportunity to find a decent job while living rent-free. He insisted I come out a few weeks early to get to know the area before he left, and so he wouldn't have to live alone in the house, because the emptiness was bothering him. I passed up yet another temp gig in Cleveland and arranged to drive out the weekend before Easter and help clean out what was slated to become my living space in what he'd informed me was a mostly-finished basement. (The option of using his second bedroom was also discussed, and both were -- I'd thought -- left open. Turned out he’d converted it into a library and neglected to tell me.) He'd planned for the two of us to drive back to Cleveland right after Easter and load a moving truck with my belongings, which could take up residence in the basement’s other half. My 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Sadie, was acting a bit odd just before the drive out, but my mechanic Bruce gave her the once-over and pronounced it good enough for the trip, as my friend had said that once I arrived we would take her to his mechanic and he would pay to have whatever was wrong fixed.
That didn’t happen. In fact, I only lasted four days in his company before reaching my limit. Once we were actually sharing the same roof, he immediately became obnoxious and rude, to the point where I knew I could not remain in his company and retain my sanity. Every other ‘conversation’ was either a lecture on why I shouldn’t think I deserved a well-paying office job (I’ve done office work for over 20 years) or why I shouldn’t think I’m too good to just work at McDonald’s (I don’t, but at just under 50 my arthritic knees aren’t necessarily up to the demands of 40 hours a week on my feet — assuming I could even get 40 hours! — and in any case I need more than a fast-food paycheck). The ones in between were diatribes about people with ADD, ADHD, autism-spectrum disorders, depression and just about every conceivable way in which a person can be other-than-normal. As someone who was diagnosed with mild ADD in childhood (yet still managed to graduate near the top of my high school class) and who has numerous close friends with varying combinations of these conditions, I wanted to strangle him.
Sadie still hadn’t been to the shop yet, but I was tired of being continually insulted, so I loaded up what I'd brought and drove to the apartment of my longtime friend Jeff — himself out of work and desperate for distraction — in Silver Spring, just outside of DC. I crashed on Jeff's couch for a few nights, and mechanics at a nearby dealership looked Sadie over. "You need a new engine," they told me.
I have a Wynn's extended service plan, the purchase of which was stipulated by the finance company when I bought the Jeep in November 2011 and which added $1900 to the amount of the loan. Yes, I've used it quite a bit, so I'm not complaining about that, but here's where things hit a snag. The engine should be covered, but I was informed that first the mechanics would have to tear the engine down "to determine cause of failure" before Wynn's would decide whether or not to cover any of this. The tear-down cost would be somewhere on the order of $800 - $900. If Wynn's decided to honor the service plan and pay for an engine replacement or rebuild, this fee would be covered. However, if they did not, I knew I would be left with a bill for that amount, and an unusable vehicle on which I still owed monthly payments.
And I'd be marooned in the DC suburbs, surfing a friend's couch and trying to find a job without a vehicle. Folks, I'd gone out there with less than $200 to my name, hoping to build a better life and find a better job.
Sadie ran at the moment, but once she was warmed up, the oil pressure warning would go off anytime I dropped below about 60 mph, and the pressure gauge would drop to near zero. Reasoning that a return trip to Cleveland -- where all but a week's worth of my clothing and other belongings still resided -- would entail mostly highway driving, I opted to chance that journey. One of the temp agencies for which I work offered me a two- to four-month assignment in Cleveland if I came back, not for high pay but at least it would be a job while I figured out my long-range plans. And I could drive my ex-husband's car while mine got fixed. While far from ideal, it beat being stuck on a couch in Maryland with only a few days’ worth of clothing, not much money, and no vehicle for however long and possibly permanently.
I left on Good Friday, spent that night at katerinfg and evil_baron’s place just outside Pittsburgh, and made it back to Cleveland the following day. I took Sadie back to Bruce’s shop the day after Easter. He installed a high-pressure oil pump without charging me, in the hope that this might at improve things at least temporarily. (It didn’t, so Sadie is essentially useless.) However, he’s reluctant to tear apart the engine without knowing whether Wynn's will cover his cost of doing so, since he knows I don't have the money to pay for it myself if they decline. And he says he's had horrible luck getting them to pay for an engine replacement -- in fact, he says, he's never been successful at that. From what I'm now reading online about Wynn's, it looks like this is common with them. They send an adjustor to look at the vehicle for any repair over $1000, and if the adjustor finds any kind of excuse he can use to deny the claim, that’s what happens.
I have no money of my own to even pay Bruce for the cost of tearing down the engine, let alone for replacing it. My ex doesn't have it either -- he's barely making ends meet himself after his work hours got cut, and he's the co-signer on the loan, so this has the potential to screw both of us. My credit was already screwed, in part due to the 4 years I took off to care for my father -- I went back to work in 2011, and have only been able to get temp work.
Bruce says that if can come up with $2800 or credit for that amount, he’ll proceed with the tear-down, go to bat with the Wynn's people, and then if they say no, proceed with replacing the engine anyway for that total $2800, after which my lawyer (thankfully a friend who will work gratis) and I can take Wynn's to court and try to recoup the loss. In the meantime, I’d take a second job to pay off the $2800; I’ve worked two jobs before and hard work doesn’t scare me. I just have to be able to GET there. Obviously, I could always get lucky and Wynn's might agree to pay for the replacement without a fuss, in which case I won't need to spend that $2800. That's what we're all hoping for. But I have to have it available just in case, or Bruce isn't comfortable beginning the work. He's running a small family business, so I can't blame him.
My bank account is about dry, and my credit is shot (dropping out of the workforce for several years to look after Dad did not help me in that regard, nor did returning to it in the middle of a recession in an environment where most of the available jobs don’t pay well), so I have no idea how I'm going to manage this. Any kind of help, brilliant ideas, or whatever else are much appreciated. Heck, if anybody has a working vehicle they were thinking of donating for a tax write-off and would be willing to sell it to me for the amount they’d have saved on taxes, drop me a line. “Pay it forward” and all that… something I’ve always tried to do and would love to be able to do again one day.
Right now, though, I just want the ability to move ahead and make some kind of positive progress in my life. It really shouldn't be *THIS* hard, should it? I'm scared. I could wind up with no vehicle, no means to get another, no job, and eventually no place to live. And certainly no way to ever get out of Cleveland and seek greener pastures.
Oh, and the two- to four-month temp job I came back to take? Yeah, that ended after a week, because I showed myself capable of doing actual WORK rather than merely babysitting the phone, which meant I was -- and I quote the actual client for whom I worked -- "overqualified for our needs. Way overqualified." So I lost a week of work and now earn far less on a different assignment 20 miles from home, to which I'm driving my ex's car, which itself needs a ton of repairs even to be safe. Seriously, driving in rain is interesting to say the least. And now that his tax refund has arrived, my ex plans to get his car fixed, but that will leave me without a vehicle to get to work while his is in the shop. Yet driving it in its current condition involves taking my life in my hands, all for $9.50 an hour. I have had nibbles regarding a couple of better job opportunities, but neither of them is accessible by public transportation.
I'm tired. I'm desperate. I'm depressed. And I'm asking for help, be that prayer, ideas or anything else. Frankly, there's a side of me that thinks if my ex's car's crappy steering went out on me during my commute and sent me into a fatal wreck, at least I'd have the relief of No Longer Having To Try… and that kind of thinking is so far out of character for me that it isn’t even funny.
- Current Location:United States, Ohio, Lakewood
- Current Mood: scared