He put the paper down in front of me. He had a big smile on his face as he handed me a fancy pen. “Sign on the dotted line,” he said.
I remember that I could feel the cold sweat forming on my brow. I was young, I had a crappy job working at a warehouse, and I had never made a purchase this large. But my old junk heap of a car had broken down and I needed wheels to get to and from work each day and to, well, drive from place to place. You know what I mean, right?
So I signed on the dotted line and for the first time in my young life, I was in debt.
I have to admit that I was excited about my new purchase. It made me feel like a real adult to have an apartment, a job, and now a beautiful, shiny, brand-spanking new, two year old used car.
Little did I know that, on that fateful day that I signed on the dotted line, my life would start a downward spiral. A week after I bought the car, my girlfriend broke up with me. The breakup was a bad one. But what really hurt was that she was living in my apartment with me and was paying for half the rent and half of the utilities. When she moved out, my cost of living nearly doubled.
A few weeks after that, I hit a friggin’ moose on the way home from work. I was okay, but the moose, not so much. But my car was a mess and it had to be towed to a local auto body shop. The guy at the repair shop said a week and a half to two weeks. Jeez.
Then I got my hours cut at the warehouse from 40 to 25. Something about foreign competition and having to cut costs. I also lost my company health insurance plan because my status changed from full time to part time. Can you believe that shit?
So money got real tight, you know, what with having to pay the full rent and utility bills on my own, coupled with the reduced income from my job and the cost of the repairs to the car, and all.
I was forced to start prioritizing how to spend my money. First rent — a guy needs a roof over his head and a place to sleep, you know. Then the utilities — water, gas, and electric. And food — I mean you gotta eat, right? Well guess what. There was nothing left over to pay the finance company for the car. That’s just the way it was.
Anyway, about a month after I got the car out of the shop, the calls started coming in. Some debt collector started harassing me every day about my car payments. I tried to explain to him what had happened. You know, my girlfriend moving out on me, the goddam moose, the cutback of hours at the warehouse.
But the guy was heartless. I suppose that being heartless is a job requirement if you’re going to be a debt collector, you know what I’m saying?
Anyway, long story short, the car got repossessed. The warehouse I worked at closed down, and my landlord evicted me when I couldn’t keep up with the rent. Now I’m alone, homeless, living on the street, and panhandling for quarters. It sucks to be me.
All because I signed on the dotted fucking line.
Written for Paula Light’s Three Things Challenge, where the three things are “breakup,” “warehouse,” and “moose.” Also for Prompt A (character challenge: Debt Collector), and Prompt B (sentence starter: “Sign on the dotted line”), from Teresa’s The Haunted Wordsmith Daily Prompt.