Sunday, October 31, 2010

A underground parable

Meet Chris, a recent college graduate. He was a party animal in college, and graduated with both college loans to pay off and maxed-out credit cards. After he graduated, his father had a “talk” with him – and he’s cut up (most of) the cards and is (barely) getting by on his salary from his first job out of college, in Midtown Manhattan. He lives in half a duplex owned by his family in Edison, because it’s paid for. The other half is occupied by relatives who are they’re retired and on a fixed income. Chris is responsible for the utilities and property tax, because he’s got a job and they don’t, though they do pay a small amount of rent. His commute is terrible, because he’s got to take the train from Edison up to Penn Station New York.

Chris’s uncle Samuel has offered to help Chris buy a place in Hoboken. This will be GREAT; in Hoboken, Chris would just have to walk down to the PATH station and catch the train to 33rd Street. It’ll be cheaper, faster, and better for the environment since Chris won’t have to drive to the train station any more (Plus, his car is a rather battered Ford Focus, and has high mileage and a worrisome amount of body rust). Samuel will help him out with a fixed amount of money as down payment (Chris has some money saved, but not 20% for a brownstone in Hoboken!), but it’s up to Chris to negotiate the price of the place, and make the loan payments. Plus, it’s a bit of a fixer-upper, needs a little bit of work before Chris can move in; and the house inspectors can’t agree on how much work (or even how much it will cost). Chris thinks long and hard about the “deal”, and tells his uncle “thanks, but no thanks, how about helping me buy a new car with some of that money?

His uncle throws a fit, calls Chris ungrateful, and calls for his lawyer to write Chris out of his will. All in all, things could have gone better, Chris thinks; but at least he’s not going to go deeper in dept. He’ll just have to keep waking up at oh-dark-hundred to catch the train so he can make it in on time and keep his job.

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