Monday, November 21, 2011

Cash For Titles ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     In late June of this year I realized I was going to have to go and get another night job to compliment the daytime job I already had or I was going to be broke as hell. I scored another gig in July. I didn't get any tips from anywhere for the entire week of training. I was counting on a couple of hundred dollars for the training but I didn't get a training check. Someone in the office had fucked up and all my hourly wages were withheld to the IRS. This here paragraph pretty much sums up what happened. If you're fascinated and can't get enough, I urge you to (re-)read the most recent previous episode of These American Servers™, "THIS IS NOT A CHECK." But wait, there's more.
     I know I was cutting it close but the training check for about $200 would've made it so that I'd have enough to pay August's rent. Not getting it meant I wouldn't have enough. I had to think of something. What I came up with was pretty unsavory.
     First, I went to a neighborhood storefront called 24/7 Financial™, or something like that. I don't really know how their business model works, I just went there because it's near my crib. It's one of those legal-in-some-states establishments that prey on poor people. I don't really consider myself poor but right then I guess I was.
     They didn't seem to have anything palatable to offer me so I went to one of those cash for titles places where they loan you money in exchange for you letting them hold your vehicle's title. I'd used the services of one of these places before, an off-brand one that time, way back in the mid-90's. I know I borrowed $500 and got done with them in about two months or so. Other than that I don't remember too much about it.
     I knew where a TitleMax® location was, just a few miles down the road, and I went there. I wanted to know what I'd need to bring with me should I decide to make the deal with them, which I was pretty sure I would. I talked to a very nice, cute young woman named Monique. She told me that my title looked good and what else I'd need to make the deal; a recent light bill, evidence of car insurance, shit like that. I told her I'd probably be back soon.
     A couple of days later I returned, with everything Monique had said I'd need. She was off that day so I dealt with someone else. No problem, but I like Monique a lot better. I was approved for up to a couple of thousand dollars but only asked for $175. I was informed that the loan had to be in one hundred dollar increments so I got $200, $30 of which I gave back immediately as my first payment.
     I went back about two weeks later and made another payment. Monique was there this time. A couple of weeks after that, through a lot of good fortune and a little hustle on my part, I had enough to pay off the whole thing. I went to see Monique one last time. We closed everything out, she thanked me and invited me to return. I told her she'd been great and thanked her for making an unpleasant ordeal a little more bearable, but that I hoped I'd never have a reason to return. I'd gotten my title back from TitleMax.
     I could have worked more during the first half of this year. If I had, I wouldn't have needed TitleMax. If work hadn't of screwed up my withholding, I'd have been OK. I felt kind of scummy and ghetto going to a cash for titles place until I thought of how many of my friends and co-workers (a lot), some of whom I hold in high regard, patronize these kinds of places regularly and who the fuck do I think I am anyway?
     I got a loan of, really, less than $200. I paid it back in a little over a month. With the interest, TitleMax made about a $70 profit and my wallet feels like it's spent some quality time in a Georgia bathroom with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. And you know how they drive your whip around the block to make sure it runs OK? The fatass store manager knocked the moulding on the door a little loose when he drove my car. Oh, well. Nobody forced me to go there but I still don't have to like it.

     If you have any thoughts about the cash for titles industry and related services, be they good or bad, I'd love it if you'd share them with me and These American Servers™. In fact, I'd be downright thankful! Have a good one everybody.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

THIS IS NOT A CHECK ©2011 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     Lord knows there've been times back in the day when I've been a lot more broke than I am now or have been in the last decade or so. But I've never felt more poor than I do right now.
     The preceding pair of sentences was scheduled to bat leadoff in an episode of These American Servers™ that I've been wanting to present to y'all for several weeks now. For some reason I like that paragraph so I'm keeping it in the lineup. It was true when I first thought of it but now, not so much. I guess it's because I'm working more now and making enough to at least half-ass climb out of my self-perceived poverty.
     A natural disaster took out one of my workplaces about 18 months ago. I managed to get by for a good while but should've gone out and gotten another night gig way sooner than I did ("The Secret Shame of Joe Sixtop," December, 2010). Ultimately, I don't have anyone other than myself to blame for what happened to me, but the new PM job I got back in July should at least be credited with an assist.
     Back in June of this year I finally depleted all my meager savings. For a variety of reasons, picking up more dinner shifts at the restaurant I work at during the day was becoming increasingly difficult and since I really hate nights there, as an option I'm not sure it beats homelessness. So I went and got another night job. I realize that I'm very blessed to have been hired at the first place I went to with an application ("I Am Joe's Job Search," July, 2011).
     They promised to never schedule me earlier than Four PM, in deference to the AM job, but I'd have to train during the day. My awesome GM at the lunch gig, Brenda B, agreed to cover me that week, no problem. I was to get minimum wage for the training but I'd harvest no tips from anywhere for a week. Whatever cheese I had on hand was going to have to last me seven days.
     I was real careful with the cashish, and I didn't run out of gas or go hungry or anything like that. At some point during the whole ordeal, I can't recall exactly when, I borrowed $100 (since paid back) from my kindly sibling in order to keep the lights on. I never had to resort to consuming Purina® Cat Chow™, since the Always Save® brand is nearly as good, and much cheaper.
     I got through training just fine. During my last follow shift when I took care of all the tables while my trainer observed, I waited on an NBA bench player who was real cool. He left us $30 on a $63 tab ( I bet he wishes he had that back now!), none of which I got to keep. That's fair, but "OUCH!" right then for my broke ass. I passed all the tests and was validated to get out on the floor.
     Plus, I got back to my day job, getting tips again. I don't make all that much there and got small, shitty stations my first week or so at the new place. It'd be close but I'd get my training check and be able to pay August's rent, no problem.
     Except I didn't get a training check. I netted $279 the last time I'd trained at a new job, back in 2007. I was anticipating at least about $200 this time, but I got zip. The other guy who trained when I did told me he got a couple hundred bucks. All I got was one of those withholding statements that proclaims, "THIS IS NOT A CHECK," that I've usually only received when I was making mad tips.
     I perused the FICA information like it was a good Maeve Binchy novel. You know how you can fill out your IRS I-9 form so that they take all your $2.13 an hour out as taxes? I know some servers who do that, in order to pay off a tax debt or to get a fat-ass refund, but I most emphatically DID NOT authorize any of that. I needed that money. I was counting on it. Someone at the corporate office had made a mistake.
     Yep, I was financially fucked allright.