Talk around the town

Some days I feel like I’m a character in a 1945 black and white depression story, where there are food bank lineups, girls with holes in their socks and boys with holes in the toes of their shoes.  Characters meet on the streets and rather than greeting each other with the typical LA style, “Hey, how ya doin’?” instead ask, “So, is your job safe?” or  “So…have you found work yet?” and even, “How are you holding on?”.  Almost all talk is about finding enough scratch to make the monthly mortgage, rent, medical, food payments. 

In the past week, a lawyer friend is still blowing through savings as his clients don’t have money to pay him for work done.  Another friend was laid off from a high level corporate position.  Another friend is worried that his company may merge in a bid for survival…and if it does, he won’t survive the merge.  His wife’s boss was laid off and she has no idea who she reports to now.  There is no one FOR her to report to.  And, the office administrator at my daughter’s school was pink-slipped and her potential transfer revoked.

I know that some people are feeling a surge.  Some houses that are REO (Real-Estate Owned) are getting bidding wars on offers.  But at a networking meeting earlier this week, a bank executive in charge of loan mitigation reminded me that the moratorium on foreclosures is lifted and the second tier of foreclosures is on us — those people who lost their jobs and are in hardship…who will literally not have the money to pay their monthly mortgage.  It is going to be a tough summer for many, many folks.  And a tough fall, a tough winter, and likely a tough spring. 

When construction companies telemarket to find out if there is a chance in heaven or hell that I might be planning a renovation this year (no…by the way), we actually end up having conversations, only to find out that the person calling is also on a last-ditch attempt to stave off their dire situation.  And finally, today, there is a real estate agent, who like clockwork, canvasses the ‘hood every few months, handing out memo pads.  Great guy, but I’m not selling and I can’t buy.  He sees the inventory on the market and has no buyers.  The trickle-down is devastating. 

That’s a snapshot of my little neck of the woods and a few of the people I know in Encino, California.  What I want to know, is if you are in Michigan, or New York, British Columbia, Ontario or Colorado…are your conversations in black-and-white or are you seeing glimmers of technicolor on the horizon?

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