Of Total Rat Bastards And Emergency Funds. …And Other Randomations

I’m just now getting back to the entry I had worked on Sunday that my Treo decided to nomnom and turn into digital confetti.  So if you will permit… Imagine the wavy lines and blurring screen…

Imagine the audio getting softer…

Fade to Sunday…

I’m sitting here in my car tapping away on my Treo’s thumb pad trying to get my thoughts in order.  It’s not often I get moved to action that involves dipping into our emergency fund.  You see, I was out of work for a number of months several years ago and that left an indelible mark on me.  Not one that has been always helpful.  I hate to spend money and I loath the thought of my bank account dwindling.  …Which is why the house hunting is taking so much out of me.  My wife is going to have to get the cashier’s check for the down payment and never let me see it or we are never going to close on a house.

So after a full morning and a ton of driving this afternoon, the darling Mrs. has popped into her Comic book shop and left me to ruminate on the day.  I guess I should start at the beginning.

My alarm went off and somewhere between that and end of the Entrance Hymn to Mass I woke up.  Fortunately, I slept-walked through a successful breakfast prep (including getting coffee to the Mrs.), breakfast, shower, and enrobing (complete with deodorant) without slipping or chopping something off.  We are now in the 10th or 15th verse of the Hymn but I know it’s the last one because the organist has switched to the “Rain down holy hell from the pipes” setting. 

Mass continues.  I have a few choked up moments as I remember my mother being given her final mass there before going to grave site.  It’s hard at times, but, “time heals,” so they say.  Waiting for that.

Anyway.  Mass is near its end (or officially over for those who leave right after Communion as if God was a fast food restaurant.  McDeity’s? Salvation in the Box?.) and Fr. Wayne, before dismissing the crowd with the traditional, “The Mass has ended; go in peace.”  To which all too many make the response, “Tanks be to God,” sound like, “Finally!”  Before that dismissal, he gives some final announcements. 

Announcement one was for prayers and remembrance of Hurricane Ike that was a year ago.  He thanked the parish for turning out and helping him and others in need with seemingly inconsequential things like ice that are a God send in a power outage.  He thanked the parish for showing up the day after we poked our heads out of the foxholes. There was no power and, therefore, no A/C.  But people still came and still dressed like civilized human beings.  Some still in suits. 

More memories of my mom flood back into me.  My sister had power and we all stayed with her those weeks.  It was the last time I spent any real time with my mom.  If I’d have known… More choking back the tears.

I was not a member of the parish at that point.  But for all Church buildings not designed back in the good old days Pre-Vatican II when Blueprints didn’t come with default A/C ducting and people didn’t destroy sacred spaces for sport, the experience is much the same in a power outage.  In the old churches you just open the windows and fan yourself hoping that nature and thermal air flow will do something.  In new churches, the only way to open a window is with a special key (A.K.A. a brink) so you sit and stew in your own juices and that of everyone else.

Now let me explain something about Fr. Wayne.  He came to this parish and took it from firmly in the red to nicely in the black.  This is NOT an affluent parish.  You can’t just twist a few arms and get a new jumbo-tron for the nose bleed section like some mega-churches.  What he’s done for the parish is just simple accounting mixed with saying, “No, we can’t afford that yet,” when it’s needed.  Not someone who you are likely to find in D.C. at the moment. 

Aside from his not insignificant financial acumen, he has the gift of helping people allow the spirit to direct their hearts. …and their wallets.  All without fire and brimstone threats of a 900 foot Jesus.  He simply lays out the facts and asks that you do what you can.  There is never any pressure. 

So it’s probably no coincidence that that announcement preceded this one.  Fr. Wayne said that members of his old parish were outside selling raffle tickets.  They are a small parish that barely collects $2000 a week.  Now I would be S**tting in high cotton if I made two grand a week.  But imagine running a whole parish, maintaining its property, serving its needy, and somewhere in all that, paying its employees and feeding the priest.  But that’s not where it all ends. 

It seems last night, some Total Rat Bastards backed up a pickup truck and took both AC units from the church.  NICE!  Fr. Wayne asks us to not pass the raffle table by and to please leave a dollar or by a ticket if we can. 

I kid you not, I was actually about to have a mental meltdown when I heard this.  I looked over to my wife who was having a tear-in-eye moment.  HOW DARE SOMEONE!  TO A CHURCH!  FILTHY SONS-A-… 

“Ok Dante… this is getting you nowhere.  What can YOU do to help?”


“Yes.  YOU!  You want to complain about people, but what can YOU do to make it better?”


“Don’t you, ‘UM,’ Me, you!  What are you going to do?  Not, “what should…,” or, “what can…,”;  “WHAT ARE…!”

I hate my internal dialogue.

So my Wife and I hunker down to say our final pray after mass.  After, I look at her and say, “How much?”

“Whatever you say, you’re the head of the house.”  How she said that without a trace of iron or sarcasm, I have no idea.

I quoted a number and she didn’t blanch.  She simply said, “We won’t miss it. Not in the long run. Heck, you can drop that on Ammo without even trying.” 

She wrote the check and handed it over at the table.  We bought one book of tickets as well.  Beside us was a little old lady.  And when I say old, she’s probably the type that tips a waitress a quarter and thinks that’s a substantial amount.  And for her on a fixed income, it’s probably just as substantial as it was back in the day.  She is plunking down small change for a $2 ticket.  With shaky hands and unsure steps she tries to fill out the stub.  My wife steps into fill it out for her.  The “Widow’s Mite” moves me again.  I’m giving out of my largess; she’s giving out of her heart. 

Now I say all of this, not to sound like some kind of Saint.  Believe me, I’m as far from that as the east is from the west.  I write this for a few reasons.  One, pray for the TRB’s that took the A/C units.  They will need it.  Maybe if enough weight is piled on their conscience, they will stop stealing and get an honest living. 

Two, pray for the Church. It will need some help funding the A/C units.

Three, if you are so moved, make a donation.  I would suggest calling fist to see what they want on the checks:
Our Lady of Perpetual Help
310 McKinney
Sweeny, TX  77480-2899  
Phone: (979) 548-2020

Four, if you live in the area, pop on over to their Bazaar.  It’s at a different address:
Sunday, October 5, 2008
at the Knights of Columbus Hall
2 miles North of Brazoria on Highway 36

Five, please say a prayer that the elderly lady wins the raffle.  I’m sure she could use some new furniture or other gift checks that are the prizes.

Six, if you get some unexpected time with a loved one, use it like you will never see them again.  You may not.

Finally, I wish to tout the concept of an Emergency fund.  You can find out more about it from people like Dave Ramsey or Philip Lenahan.  But the concept is simple.  If you scrimp and save up some cash (about a grand) and don’t touch it…  It’s for emergencies.  Not a new Xbox or mattress.  Emergencies!  You need out of jail.  You need a new muffler.  Your AC needs repair and is August-Hot outside.  …and it’s not already in the budget.  That’s what this money is for. 

If that money wasn’t in the bank, I would never have been able to just drop a case of .223 worth for the effort.  And yes… I consider needs like that an emergency.  I really do.  At least I’m able too because I have that fund as well and a “rainy day fund” (also found at those sites)

Anyway… if you save that money up and put it aside, then you are able to poke Murphy in the eye should he try to pee in your helmet.  It keeps you from going into credit card debt for every damn little thing that comes along.   And since you have no revolving debt, you can make up the money you just spent on the emergency with some judicious budgeting.

I think I touched on everything.  Now I’m going to go see what’s taking the Mrs. so long. 


Screen starts to shimmer and lose focus.

Sounds begins to get muffled

Fade to present.

Well… there you have it.  Best I could do to reconstruct the post from wetware backups.  I hope it moves you to some act of kindness for others or yourself (hit those financial websites and call Mom and Dad).


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Conservative, educated, understands history, distrusts government, distrusts politicians, dislikes pop-culture, and carries a firearm. In short, I'm what The Framers of The Constitution were counting on and everything your government wants you to fear most.

The only thing I don’t have to complain about is some GI taking up space in my living room. I’ll let you know about the Civil Courts if someone ever owes more than $20 to me. ---If you didn’t get that one; sue your Civics or US History Teacher.

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Any Spelling, Grammatical, or Typographic errors are the result of my keyboard, public school Elementary education, or Secret Government Ninjas and not fault of the author and his flying through his posts at lunch time. If you see any errors, ping me and I will correct them. Ping me often enough, and I will make you my editor.
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