Friday, May 29, 2009

we may all be in the same boat now, but the irresponsible people had a lot more fun

The facts are these:

I purchased a property in 2005 that was near the top of my affordability range for three main reasons:
a) It's across the street from dungeon headquarters--saving me hundreds of dollars on gas, rolls of quarters, parking tickets and commute time.

b) It's in an up-and-coming tony area; research predicted a very favorable return in a few years.

c) I had lived with my parents in suburbia for several years while my friends all partied in the city just so I could have enough money for a place of my own.

a) My field of business started to slump, and a hiring freeze shut me out of permanent employment there.

b) It was hard to find another full-time gig, so I rented the place out for only 3/4 of what I had to pay every month.

c) I landed a great job--only to be laid off exactly two months later, on my birthday.

d) H was laid off the very next day. It had to be a sign.

a) I got in on a startup company with a solid client and a lot of potential for success.

b) H moved out here to be with me and I could actually live in the place I owned.

Despite all that:
a) I wasn't making nearly as much money and H had a hard time finding something here, so I put the place on the market.

b) My realtor talked me into making a lot of expensive upgrades, such as stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors, etc. to help the place sell more quickly.

c) I had to furnish the place from scratch to make it show-ready.

d) The housing market bubble burst.

Then things really started going downhill at the end of last year:
a) H's industry tanked and he is underemployed.

b) Our big client's investors took a hit in the stock market and it canceled our contract--decimating (literally) our company. I was laid off and apparently the boss is continuing on with our smaller clients by working 24 hours a day with unpaid interns.

c) My industry is imploding I am competing with the best and the brightest in my field for few jobs, and haven't secured anything better than short-term projects.

d) H and I do not have health insurance.

e) But what we do have is a FAT mortgage, which unemployment does not begin to cover, let alone living expenses.

f) Everything I managed to save while living with my parents has drained away.

g) The condo association raised our hefty assessments by 10%.

h) So many people are hassling us to get married, even though we barely have enough cash to purchase enough Betty Crocker for a cupcake tower.

i) My place has been on the market for 13 months, and while we show it at least twice a week, we haven't even had a ridiculously lowball offer since the fall.

j) I am 30 years old and my parents are up at night worrying about my future as though I were still 18. My mom refuses to give up her double shifts despite the detrimental eye strain because they're constantly helping us out. Knowing that they are still trying to take care of me at a time when I should be helping them ease into retirement makes me die a little inside every time I think about it.

k) Sitting at home alone all day, sending resumes into a black hole of no/negative responses makes me feel more worthless by the hour.

l) And then there's Citimortgage. Let me just say that I have been filling out forms and sitting on hold for at least ten hours a week since January. I am convinced they are transferring me around and putting me off (such as making me do a lot of work to get into a programs that apparently do not apply to the unemployed, but not finding out that fact until THE END of the three-month application process). All the while I receive three to four calls a day from their automated machine asking me to call them. And I must repeat my history to every new person I talk to.

Something broke on Wednesday, when I finally got a hold of the Citibank representative assigned to my account, a "Ms. Golden," extension 1809501, who the day before had left me a message that it was imperative I call her by the end of the day, then left the office at about 1 p.m.

Ms. Golden informed me (in a fake-sincere tone) that while I had been "pre-approved" by Heather for the Obama-backed program and Citibank cashed that first discounted check to get it started three weeks ago, I was not actually approved. Oh, and I am now thousands of dollars delinquent on payments that Heather told me would be pushed back to the end of my loan if I made that payment that day (May 10, Mother's Day, when I should have been spending time with my mother instead of being on hold with the damn bank).

Golden said that "this is a very large company and all of these programs are rolled out by the government. These things take weeks to be approved. Some of them are discontinued and new ones are rolled out all the time." Heather had also given me a phone number to the MAU department (no one seems to know what that stands for), which I had been trying to call to determine if I was indeed qualified or not, and was told someone would call me back in week. Golden told me it had been my responsibility to call and find out if I was in fact approved. When I brought up the MAU department, she snapped, "The MAU department does NOT take outside calls. And the MAU department DOES NOT CALL ANYONE."

I lost it. Here was the third time in five months I had been told I was "pre-approved" for a program that turned out to be bogus. Another problem is that the mortgage I was given looks like a second mortgage, but it is actually in first lien position. Most Citibank representatives blow me off when they see "second mortgage" and dismiss my appeal without looking at it carefully enough to see that I only have the one.

I got a little irate. Golden was prattling on about how she was "trying to work with me, help me," but I was at the end of my rope. Everything they've been telling me for months has turned out to be a sham. So I likely did interrupt her. (To be fair, my phone connection was wavering in and out that day, so there was a delay--any of you who talk to me when I'm there know what I'm saying. So when I heard silence I would begin to speak and she'd think I was interrupting her again.) Each time our call was disconnected, it would take upwards of 20 minutes of being transferred around (even though I had her extension) for me to get a hold of her again, if at all.

"Miss," Ms. Golden said, "When you are ready to LISTEN TO ME and stop INTERRUPTING, then you can call me back." Click.

I cried for the rest of the day.