Traveling across America with a bike, a book & a German Shepherd to uncover the real story of the 2008 economic earthquake

Stories of Americans

The response to our request for stories has been tremendous. Many used the Tell Your Story form (preferred way) while some wrote in this page’s replies. We plan on responding to every single one (give us some time if we get backlogged) and posting all of them if you let us. Please include contact info (why we prefer the form) if you want to be videotaped for the documentary.

Here are some abbreviated snippets of ones we have received:

I closed on a house in July of 2008. I was a popular morning radio personality and my position of 10 years was eliminated in September of 2008. I took a job in Indiana for 7 months, until I could find a job back in New York. I’ve been in foreclosure for 4 years. Countrywide, Bank of America, Bayview Loans, and now another company is taking over my mortgage on September 7. I’m working, but making about half of what I was making. I’ve had 2 or 3 part-time jobs on the side to try to make ends meet. Dave, New York

My family will never be over the economic collapse of 2008. My husband committed suicide after the loss of his trucking business and the bankruptcy that followed was too much for him to bear. Four children lost their father (one daughter two days after her wedding, he stayed until it was done then gone! no honeymoon, cancelled due to funeral), my daughter lost her stepdad but he was the only “real” dad she had since she was 11. Four grandkids lost “papa” and two more have been born since that will never know him. 2008 is forever burned in all of our minds! We were also big motorcycle enthusiasts. His bike has sat silent for the last 5 years. Mine is for sale, also silent but for maintenance here or there. I just wondered how many more stories ended this way, he couldn’t have been the only one to sink to this depth. -Melody

I was 1 out of 6 Private Nurse Practioner Run Medical practice run in New York state.  I was 1 of two providers in my entire County serving 13,000 Medicaid recipients. My Medicaid reimbursement per patient was $30.00. Unfortunately I had to give up my practice in 2008. -Christina, New York

I was hit very hard by the 2008 economic collapse. My “financial manager” had me parked right where it would wipe me out (I lost $200,00.00 in 2 months). He never made a phone call to me to warn me about what was coming and how to salvage something. All I got was a letter early in 2009 stating how sorry he was that this happened he had taken the time to close out my account and here was the closeout check in the amount of $8 and change! I have managed to survive to this point, but it has had its difficulties, twists and turns! Although I find what happened to me in 2008 very disappointing, I look forward to the future with great optimism. . .sometimes great ideas come from adverse circumstances! -Jefrey, New York

I gave all that up to buy a small catering/restaurant in GA. The collapse took everything from me. My livelihood, my house, my 401k, borrowed against my life insurance, and sold just about every thing I owned. I now live in a studio Apt in  FL and work as a home health aide for the elderly. I am surviving, but have become some what of a recluse, as I cannot enjoy the luxuries like travel or dining out like I was accustomed. I am now in the planning and saving stages of moving back to NY, and this move should take place next April 1. I thought by this stage of my life I would be fairly set with retirement and such. Like many others, I will most likely work until the day I expire, and I think that may be a good thing. Now, I choose jobs I will enjoy and bring a sense of happiness to those I serve. I am much more sensitive to people’s needs now. I think that this financial crisis has been awful for many people, but the human spirit is mighty strong. I know that it has strengthed me and made me a better person. All the roads in the past nine years, are leading me back home, where I belong. -Gwendolyn, Florida

Well let’s see, I’ll start back in 2004. My self and my significant other left North Central PA at the end of August in a truck and travel trailer with Virginia as a destination. While in Virginia I worked at a KOA Campground where we stayed at. Anyways we left there to come down here to Florida because that is where my Significant Other’s  daughter had lived and she wanted us to come back down here with her and her kids, so we did!! Got down here in Florida in 2005 and have been here ever since. Now I must tell you that Significant Other is on Social Security Disability and I’m a Disabled Veteran. So anyways we got here and I found a day labor job and then a permanent job as an RV Resort maintenance worker. I was a dedicated worker for almost 3 years when the place I worked at fired me for no good reason which was in August 2008. I was able to get unemployment and we found an apartment to move to. Well I was on unemployment for the maximum weeks allowed, 99, and in the roughly 2 years of unemployment I looked for work as was required. Now I also went thru and had my disability increased due to health issues so I then became 60% rated. So after 50+ applications for work of which most were with the local cable company and a few other electronics companies plus other maintenance type jobs and retail sales jobs (Walmart and Target) I did manage to get 5, yes I said 5 interviews. But I got all the basically same response with the exception of Lowes were I was told “we’re sorry, we went with an applicant who more closely matches our needs” even though Walmart and Target hire just about anyone but not me.  All in all I think my disability had a role as well as my age because I was 50 at the time. That discrimination is against the law!! Anyways if it weren’t for disabilities we would have been homeless by now.  I had refiled for an increase in disability with the VA to get another increase and after 22 months of waiting I was granted a new rating and full compensation rating for unemployability.  I never did get my full 22 months of back pay owed to me. So now I am officially “retired” and am on the government’s list of “Employed” even though I don’t work. The “list” I refer to is the actual unemployed people list that our government doesn’t want people to see as the real unemployment figure would be about 14-15% NOT the 7.4% that they claim. That’s my story that takes me thru the years before and after the great government debacle to today and now I sit and read about how the government says things are getting better but I totally SEE the opposite! – Dian, Florida

I began to work for a small roofing company in Jan 2009 as their accountant. Initially we did not feel the impact of the crisis for approx 2+ years. Then, we didn’t fully understand what was hitting assuming we had somehow escaped the crisis. We think as people lost jobs it was easy for them to pick up a hammer, ladder etc – drive a truck and hop into our sector of business. The owners didn’t begrudge anyone, but we were being under-cut constantly due to the fact that we had insurance and paid our employees through a PR company, not under the table. Our debt was enormous: We had no line of credit so in effect our vendors became our lenders. This made us just as culpable to the economic crisis. BUT the story is about one owner. He always remained optimistic. He said he’d seen bad times and we’d march through this too. I told him I could teach him the acct’g software to save my salary. He refused to let me quit and the two of us worked tirelessly to find ways to cut costs – incr revenues etc. We have 4-8 roofers seasonally and he always felt that he needed to protect these men along with his co-owner. Today our Sales are at an all-time low BUT our Payable to Receivable ratio is under 1! The owners have scaled back their personal wages, and I stopped working for four months – and have scaled back hours. No employee’s wages have been scaled back and we try to keep them working 40 hrs / week – although there have never been benefits for anyone. Our Sales are down sharply from 2009.In the meantime he enrolled in the SBA’s emerging Leaders program for 2013, learning how to look at his business differently. It’s the toughest thing I’ve watched him do since 2009 – and I’ve never seen him happier. We discuss each SBA class & homework. He once commented confidentially that he graduated HS last in his class, never did his homework, was never prepared and never worried. NOW that’s all changed: He’s the first to volunteer homework answers, fully prepared to discuss everything. He tells me constantly how great he feels even though exhausted and with slumped sales. “After all, it’s what you put into it that you get out of it, and I plan to get a lot out of this.” We are reinventing things behind the scenes daily and it’s incredibly exciting. Maybe you are looking for a story where people got wrecked. That could have easily been us. Except we’re a little lower on the financial food chain than those who had investments – we’re not even there . . .yet! The banks wouldn’t loan us money – so they couldn’t jack rates or call anything due. But we had men trying to support their families and that feels a lot more important. -MaryBeth, New York

I live in NY and have been a life long resident. I lost my job in November 2009. Due to staffing shortages where I had worked I was on track to make $40,000 that year. As I began my job search I realized how desperate the job climate was. I was in the middle of pursuing my Associates Degree and continued doing so. I was forced to move my son and I in with my parents after living on my own for 10 years. Luckily I was only out of work for 2 months, but was forced to take a job making over $3 an hour less than I had been.It’s now late in 2013 and I just had to apply for the federal program for reduced price school lunches for my son. I’m on target to make $17,000 less this year than I would have made in 2009. The worst part about it, I even have a college degree now and it doesn’t make me any more marketable. I’m a single mom with a special needs son so moving out of the area and away from our support system isn’t an option. -Carrie, New York

4 Comments

  1. Gwendolyn Holbein September 5, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    Born and raised in Skaneateles, NY. Read your article in Syr paper this morn. I had a home on Benson Rd less than a half me from my parents home on Baptist Corners Rd. I gave all that up to buy a small catering/restaurant in Blue Ridge GA. I left my beloved Skantown in March ’05. The collapse took everything from me. My livelihood, my house, my 401k, borrowed against my life insurance, and sold just about every thing I owned. I now live in a studio Apt in Pompano Beach FL and work as a home health aide for the elderly. I am surviving, but have become some what of a recluse, as I cannot enjoy the luxuries like travel or dining out like I was accustomed. I am now in the planning and saving stages of moving back to NY, and this mo e should take place next April 1. I thought by this stage of my life I would be fairly set with retirement and such. Like many others, I will most likely work until the day I expire, and I think that may be a good thing. Now, I choose jobs I will enjoy and bring a sense of happiness to those I serve. I am much more sensitive to people’s needs now. I think that this financial crisis has been awful for many people, but the human spirit is mighty strong. I know that it has strengthed me and made me a better person. When one is forced to have less, the less becomes everything, and any tiny bit of extravagance becomes a diamond in the rough. Learning to appreciate and not take for granted has been a huge training process. I look forward to moving back to Skantown and being close to my Mom, and my siblings and my forever strong friends. All the roads in the past nine years, are leading me back home, where I belong.

    Reply
  2. I was hit very hard by the 2008 economic collapse. My “financial manager” had me parked right where it would wipe me out (I lost $200,00.00 in 2 months). He never made a phone call to me to warn me about what was coming and how to salvage something. All I got was a letter early in 2009 stating how sorry he was that this happened he had taken the time to close out my account and here was the closeout check in the amount of $8 and change! I have managed to survive to this point, but it has had its difficulties, twists and turns! Although I find what happened to me in 2008 very disappointing, I look forward to the future with great optimism. . .sometimes great ideas come from adverse circumstances!

    Reply
  3. Just a note I live in Cicero, New York 13039 I can provide a direct street address should you deem it necessary. Thank You!!

    Reply
  4. My family will never be over the economic collapse of 2008. My husband committed suicide after the loss of his trucking business and the bankruptcy that followed was too much for him to bear. Four children lost their father (one daughter two days after her wedding, he stayed until it was done then gone! no honeymoon, cancelled due to funeral), my daughter lost her stepdad but he was the only “real” dad she had since she was 11. Four grandkids lost “papa” and two more have been born since that will never know him. 2008 is forever burned in all of our minds! We were also big motorcycle enthusiasts. His bike has sat silent for the last 5 years. Mine is for sale, also silent but for maintenance here or there. I just wondered how many more stories ended this way, he couldn’t have been the only one to sink to this depth.

    Reply

Leave a Reply