What is being in debt? There are two types of debt. First there is bad debt. Being in bad debt is tantamount to being padlocked in an outhouse in the country with methane gas building up around you. Worse when it is a dog day in August in Florida. Talk about uncomfortable.
Picture the panic on your face when a truck from the finance company backs up to your house and guys jump out with prison tattooed faces tell you ‘Game over, Jack.” Or, think about receiving a tax bill that essentially wipes out a year’s salary and you call your accountant, only to reach a disconnected number. This is three minutes before the lights go off. Or, think about that high interest rate loan you got from ‘Fat Tony’ last month and ‘Vito Big Knuckles’ is standing in your kitchen saying, “I came here either to chew gum or haul me some extra body parts home. Guess what? I ain’t got no gum.”
None of these are ideal moments. Debt stinks. Debt can be embarrassing. Bad debt is scary. I’m not trying to reveal any hidden secrets about either my personal, or business finances but honestly, my business had money embezzled from it by my accountant. That’s well documented and not at issue. My focus is another type of being debt — good debt.
Good debt is acknowledging that you have been helped on your life journey by someone special and indeed, unforgettable. Usually, in the case of the individual, there are very tangible qualities that make her very admirable. It’s appropriate to take time to express gratitude to those who have brought us past the hurdle, helped us jump through the fire. Unfortunately we don’t do it at, preferring to let time pass and if some tragedies bespeaks that person, we always bemoan the fact that we could of said more.
In life there people who keep you from walking off the edge. In my case, I’m indebted to my former assistant Karina. It was more than her smile, the flash of wisdom in her eyes and humor in her tone. It was and is her warmth and thoughtfulness. No, she is not departed the living to go entertain Jesus. She is living across town raising her three children and tending to the needs of her family, including her husband.
I’m grateful to her because there were times when I didn’t know what path to pursue to regain a lost client – she did. “Pick up the phone,” “I’ll write the letter pointing out how we much money we made them,” she told me on more than one occasion. That’s practical advice. And, you don’t get that from anyone unless they care about what they and you are doing. In Karina’s case, whenever possible she put our agency first. She even advised me of the practical reasons to get rid of the “teacher’s pet,” because she was not productive but only gave the appearance of being such.
The “teacher’s pet” was an untouchable creative and someone I thought of as being the most important person in the agency, but Karina knew different. She saw through the façade. She also told me it made sense for me to seize the mantle of handling new business and delegating responsibilities. Unfortunately, I was stubborn and didn’t listen.
Karina is business minded, but as a beautiful woman appreciated when that was acknowledged. It was okay to say, “That’s a nice outfit,” “You’re beautiful today,” without having to be worried about her filing an EEOC complaint. She reminded me in there things that we tend to forget in our instant coffee, instant gratification lifestyles – one of them is how to be human. Her beauty radiated from the inside and out, but it also surrounded her. I don’t mean to speak about her in the past tense, because as I said, she’s living somewhere across town.
This post started out talking about being in debt, and how unpleasant it is. I love the contrast, though. Being in debt and grateful to someone to whom you owe a lot is really ideal. I’m indebted to her, and very little I can do can pay her back because she is such a giver. All I can say is “Thank you, Karina.” My hope is that as the future unfolds I will be able to get people on staff that embody her qualities of grace, dignity and practical wisdom.
Bernard Alexander McNealy