A Chilling Perspective

When I’m warm and it’s cold outside, I sometimes think of those who have no homes, who must really be cold right now. I think of them. I feel sad for them. I move about my business.

Now I’m cold, and all I can do is think of them. And, all things considered, it really isn’t even *that* cold yet, though try telling that to my fingers which are having trouble typing even now, or to my head, which isn’t content unless my knitted cap is securely in place (it’s been there since 1:00 yesterday afternoon, save for two hours today when I worked the bookstore – it was warm in there).

I think of these folks because they aren’t just cold like we are; they are cold and displaced. No beds, no bundles of warm blankets, no borrowed space heater to heat the area right in front of where their kids aren’t watching Charlie Brown on TV right now like mine are.

I threw a bona-fide fit today. I’m not happy about that, but there you have it. Mr. Radiator came in and, in the course of 10 minutes, told me that what was going to be a simple “let’s get this thing started” turned into a “well, I’m going to have to wah wah wah wah wah wah $700 wah wah wah wah.” I called Craig out of class. He okayed whatever it is Mr. Radiator said he had to do and, I’m not joking, 10 minutes later, he came up with another round of wah wah wah wah wah $7,000 wah wah wah (can you tell I’m listening to Charlie Brown right now?).

That’s when I turned into waaa waaa waaa. I called Craig out of class again. We told Mr. Radiator thanks for coming, but we can’t do that right now. He smiled and handed me a bill for $98. I didn’t handle that well. I looked at him and said, “What, are you kidding me?” He said, “No.” I said, “Seriously? $98 for doing nothing?” He said, “Wah wah wah wah wah wah.” I wrote him a check for $98. I kind of tossed it at him and glared him right out of my house. I’m usually a little more polite, but I’ve had it with repair guys trying to take advantage of me. I’m done with that.

So he left, and my mature, let’s-set-a-good-example-for-the-children response was to scream. And I’m not talking a little, “Eeeeek! A mouse!” scream, but, the kind of scream you’d expect from any self-respecting two-year old who ate half a lollipop and had the remainder taken away. That kind of scream.

I cried so much I’m really tired right now. Really tired. And yet, what am I so depressed about? It’s less about the cold and more about the control – we had a good, strong plan to pay off some accumulated debt this year that, before today, we were on track to pay off in May. If we have to buy a new boiler (and we simply do), we’ll pay things off later than May, but it’s out of my control and that’s scary to me.

What I fail to remember is that we’re indoors where the wind can’t get to us. We have electricity, which allows for us to snuggle underneath electric blankets. We have friends who practically force us to come to their homes during the day so we can stay warm. We’re protected. And we have the ability to come up with a plan. It’s not plan A, but it’s still in the play book and we’ll make it work.

So many people this winter don’t even have a play book. And I can only imagine the despair they feel. When you are cold (even only 50 degrees cold) all you can think about is meeting your basic need. It’s hard to think about doing anything else. Eating, maybe, but school? Not so much; the girls’ fingers are too cold. I can’t imagine having no place to live and being this cold and even colder for the entire winter with no hope in sight, no plan on the horizon at all. When your basic needs aren’t met, despair comes quickly to fill that gap.

We’ll have heat sometime soon. I wonder how long it will take me to forget about all those who don’t?

15 thoughts on “A Chilling Perspective

  1. Leslie says:

    God has your back and He will provide. I will pray for you tonight that you will have clarity in your decisions and God will deliver the right repair man to your door. May God bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you and give you peace.


  2. Jamie says:

    I’m sorry, Megan. I’ll be praying that you will be able to get the necessary repairs done without paying through the nose. You already know this, but we have found that our best (read: most honest and reliable) repairmen were those that came recommended by friends. A quick check of the Better Business Bureau helps, too — at least you can see whether or not they have a large volume of complaints, and what those complaints have been.
    If you get tired of trying to keep warm in the meantime, feel free to stop by — it’s still in the 70’s here. (Granted, Texas might be a little out of your way…)


  3. Kara Tippetts says:

    First, I’m sorry. So sorry.. When the controls we set in our minds don’t pan out it is hard not to feel very lonely.
    I do feel for the cold and displaced tonight. Thank you for you thoughtfulness even in tough times.
    Lastly, I agree with above. Did it not show up on the inspection? I’m sorry lady, little ladies, and Craig.


  4. Staci at Writing and Living says:

    We had a terrible ice storm earlier this year. We have a fireplace, but all our wood was coated in ice and didn’t want to burn. It was amazing how all my niggling, petty wants dissolved into gratitude at the sight of a fire in my fireplace.
    And I feel your pain. I know all too well what it’s like to move into a house and have things like this go wrong.


  5. Margaret says:

    Sorry for your troubles and amazed at your perspective.
    I remember when we lived in a poorly heated apartment. It was hard to do anything but eat and sleep. We used to go to matinees to warm ourselves!
    You are right-I also need to remember my blessings. I won’t say “count,” because it would take weeks!


  6. Abbie says:

    It’s so hard when you have a responsible, well-thought-out financial plan and then something unexpected comes up and throws a wrench in the whole thing. We’ve been there, too.
    You have the right perspective, though. It’s so true: there are those who struggle so much when the weather gets colder. The word you used is definitely what comes to mind for me–despair.
    And now I’m off do some housework and ask myself: what am I going to do about it??


  7. Megan says:

    Sure, something to consider. We have no duct work in this house, though. We’ve heard that putting all that in along with the systems would run upwards of $20K.
    We have one route to take: we don’t think the previous owners disclosed this, so we’re checking the original contract and contacting realtors and such. In the meantime, we’re doing school at a friend’s house today. I just walked back in for a few things and now smell gas.
    Oh, and how do you like my new picture? My computer also died two days ago. I’m using Craig’s right now…


  8. Monica says:

    Hey Megan – so sorry to hear about the house problems continuing.
    I hope you don’t forget the sensitivity towards those who don’t have heat. It can be so easy to think of others in a situation like this and forget about them when life is easy and I’m preaching to myself here. I only say that I hope you don’t forget because I always do forget and I wish I didn’t.
    Trusting you and Craig will know what is best and that God will provide for all of your needs including the debt payoff plan.


  9. Christy says:

    Hugs, my friend. I’ve been thinking about the homeless again, too. And wondering why I wait until it gets cold outside to think of them. I’m taking your blog post as yet another prod to get me out of my comfort zone and turning my thoughts outward to others instead of being so inwardly focused.


  10. Jen says:

    I’m sorry Megan! We had an $1800 car repair bill last week and it was TOUGH to swallow. Trying to remind myself that it’s still cheaper than a payment. Hang in there!!


  11. Keri says:

    I’m so sorry you are dealing with yet another house problem – my heart feels for you, and I admire your perspective at the same time. You’ll be in my prayers.


  12. Suzanne says:

    That’s awful. I’m so sorry. We have one queen sized and one twin sized heated matress pads if you would like to borrow them. We had a repairman in for our furnace today and I believe he was very honest and fair priced. Maybe you could get a second opinion? Call Nick @ the bookstore he has the guy’s number and name. I think that the housecall fee is $79. Did you guys have a home inspection before closing? What did the home inspector say in regards to the boiler? So sorry. I hope you guys stay warm.


  13. Mom says:

    We were wondering about why the city inspector did not “find” this BIG problem. Maybe because it was July/August & 95 plus degrees when he was there. He was so knitpickie (sp) on so many of the other things, I’d be afraid to ask him to come back out. As you’ve stated, check that contract. The former owners should have disclosed this. If it wasn’t working, how did they stay warm last winter? If you smell gas, call the gas company now. Unless you want the house to blow up, and claim it on your insurance. (Hope you know I’m kidding.) We love you and are praying for you htru all of this. Mom & Dad


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