Thursday, March 1, 2012

Brotherly Love...And Setbacks

Drifts of snowflakes obscuring the horizon, and the temperature's dropping. We have had a lovely little skating 'pond' at the bottom of the steps. The Brick hit the icy spot at full tilt the other night, and nearly executed a quadruple somersault. I'd better get out there and salt it more.

One Frugal Girl had some interesting comments about brother-sister relations. Actually, she was talking about the importance of saving your money, bit by bit, for something really important. Her brother took the opposite tack, blowing bucks on his latest fancy.

My wondering: how does OFG's brother live today? Does he still rush through his money, then expect his sister to pick up the slack?

Little Brother (who is 5 inches taller and 2 1/2 years younger) saved everything. I mean EVERYTHING. He stashed every bit of candy he got under the bed -- then expected me to share mine. The smell of stale candy eventually got to be a constant out the door of his room.
     He also could sell -- he won practically every contest for it at school. I would have said it was partly the blue eyes and shock of blond hair, or the cowboy boots he insisted on wearing. But as an adult, he can still sell the pants off anyone I know...with the exception of Daughter #2, who could sell you your own shirt, and you would thank her for the privilege.
     We weren't poor growing up -- after all, we lived on a farm my parents owned (for the stunning price of $10,000) and we had plenty to eat and wear. We went on trips, too -- camping. Really Poor people didn't get to do that kind of stuff.

     But we also had some things drilled into us from babyhood:
     *Go to school. Get the best education possible. (My dad only graduated from 8th grade.)
     *There's no money for school. You'll have to work for it.
     *No job is too humble if it's honest.
     *Times are bad? Work harder.
     *Suck it up. If you can't do it yourself, it's not worth doing.

    So Little Brother went to work at 14, at the Case dealership my uncle owned. (And Dad was Parts Manager.) Using the money from that job, he bought a farm, and stocked it with pigs. (He also paid for the college fees left after financial aid.) From the proceeds of the farm sale plus his salesman's job (his wife also worked), they lived like misers -- then put that money into a tool-and-die business.
     That business eventually grew to include two more. Its sale -- he kept working there, as well -- let him start a new business, making and selling wood pellets for stoves.
     Which went bust.

It wasn't his fault. He and his partner put in long hours for no pay, and worked their hearts out. (In fact, he worried his way back to high school weight -- and high school was more than thirty years ago.) It seemed that when one machine was repaired, another would go out. They had trouble finding enough sawdust for pellets. Finally, the electrical power source went bad. (Did you know that if the local electric needs updating, they're going to ask your business to pay for it?)
     So now he's faced with shutting everything down. Selling the machinery he put together with such care and high hopes.
     And starting over. 

The money is the least of it. As far as I know, this is the first thing Little Brother has put his hand to that didn't work out. Discouraging? You bet. They're back to counting every penny, and I know he is blaming himself for this business not being a blinding success. (It's a family trait.)
     The Brick quietly listened when we got the phone call -- then smiled and said, "The great ones always have one failure." Didja hear that, Little Brother? It's not the end -- just a temporary setback.

I remind myself of that, as well, when I miss out on a teaching gig, or don't sell the book I'd planned on writing. Just temporary...that's all.

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