The Information Was Surprising


The discovery was troublesome. I came across the information on Sunday afternoon and it continues to weigh heavily on my mind. One of the weekend rituals the General and I share is stopping by the bank to use the ATM card to secure my lunch money for the following week. In addition, if the General needs cash, we increase the amount. On a weekly basis, I’m not sure how much the General transfers over from our regular checking account to her stash fund, but I suspect it probably equals the amount I carve out for my lunch money.


You’re probably thinking: “Don, That can’t be right. Surely you’re wife wouldn’t take a weekly allowance to spend on ‘heaven knows what’ while she provides you the same allotment for your lunch money. That doesn’t seem fair.” I can’t truthfully tell you that I didn’t see that thought formulating in you mind. For one thing, I’ve had the same thought on more than one occasion, but truthfully, I can’t complain. I won’t say that I consistently have a pocket full of cash, but I never long for anything. Consequently, if I’m out of money, I can always get more or I can use plastic. I almost said I could ask for more, but asking is simply a formality. Whatever I need is available.


What’s true for me isn’t always true for others. That’s the thing I found troublesome about Sunday afternoon’s discovery. We stopped in Dripping Springs at Wells Fargo to get my weekly lunch money from the ATM machine. When I placed my debit card (actually it belongs to the General – we only have one and she keeps it in her possession) When I placed our debit card in the machine, I noticed there was an unclaimed receipt still in the machine.


Whether the receipt was purposefully left behind or inadvertently left behind, I don’t know. What I do know is that the General never requests a receipt when she withdraws funds. She doesn’t want to deal with keeping up with a paper receipt. On the other hand, I like the periodic reinforcement that there are ample resources in the account.


I suspected I would need to remove the paper receipt still in the machine before I could receive the receipt related to my transaction. Consequently, I took the existing receipt out of the machine. When I looked at the receipt my spirits plummeted and I’ve thought about the possible scenarios related to the person or person(s) whose account was activated to withdraw cash.


On Sunday, January 8, 2017, a bank customer withdrew $40.00 from their checking account. That isn’t the part that bothered me. The thing I found troublesome was that after withdrawing the $40.00, their account balance following the transaction totaled only $.87. Wow! That doesn’t leave anything for a raining day or a crisis situation. For that matter, the bottom line is that it doesn’t leave anything at all.


I sometimes see folks standing on the street corner in Austin carrying signage indicating that they need a helping hand. A week ago, I headed to the mall with a couple of guys from Henly and we saw an emaciated looking man on the street corner in Austin holding a sign asking for help. I guess I’ve grown accustomed to such signage and the man on the corner didn’t look any different from people I see (or don’t see) on a daily basis. At any rate, my friend riding shotgun in the front seat said: “He looks really needy, let me give him $5”. The light had just changed to green, but the transaction related to transfer of funds was made before we left the intersection. Frankly, I was pleased that my friend wanted to respond to a perceived need.


I don’t know the answer for poverty, but I do know the impact that poverty has on children and it isn’t good. Educationally, children from families not worried about finding the funds to pay the light bill, purchase groceries, buy clothing for their children, fill their car with gas or at least enough fuel to get to work and have resources left over for an emergency fair better. Parents struggling financially to simply meet basic human needs are often emotionally not available to be most attentive to the needs of their children.


Privilege and opportunity are often not associated to those struggling financially just to get basic needs met. I don’t have an answer, but I do understand the problem and the lack of empathy that many people with resources have toward those without resources. Being poor is not a character flaw or an indication related to lack of intelligence or motivation. We’d all like to think that ours is a country where anyone could pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, but that isn’t necessarily so.


I went to high school with friends who were not afforded the opportunity to pursue higher education. Sometimes the key to having more financially is tied to educational accomplishment and academic or vocational training. No everyone lives in a world where those amenities are readily available. Sometimes, parents not understanding the need for their children to have opportunities they were not provided as children, fail to advocate or support those things for their offspring. Consequently the cycle continues of barely getting by and making ends meet.


Interestingly, I looked for childhood poverty information on Google this morning. If the report is accurate, I was really surprised by what I found regarding my own community of Henly. Reportedly, according to Neighborhood Scout: “The neighbors in the Henly neighborhood in Dripping Springs are wealthy, making it among the 15% highest income neighborhoods in America”. I read the report with a sense of disbelief. Did I mention I work for a non-profit corporation?


Occasionally folks who visit our home for the first time look at our house and comment: “Your church is paying you too much money.” I simply smile and take it as a compliment regarding our home and community. Trust me, if folks in my neighborhood have 15% of the highest incomes in Texas, they are holding their cards pretty close to their vest. I know a couple of airline pilots, two lawyers , a doctor, and several landowners with vast estates, but I’ve never thought of them as being at the top of the leader board in generating income.


The published news regarding Henly isn’t all good: “NeighborhoodsScouts exclusive analysis reveals that this neighborhood has a higher income than 87% of the neighborhoods in America. With 21.8% of the children here below the federal poverty line, this neighborhood has a higher rate of childhood poverty than 59.8% of U.S. neighborhoods”.


One other portion of the report did resonate and make perfect sense to me: “If you are planning to retire in Texas, this neighborhood should be on your must-see list. For many reasons, Henly may be considered a retiree’s dream neighborhood. According to NeighborhoodScout’s exclusive analysis and metrics, it’s peaceful and quiet, has above average safety from crime compared to other neighborhoods in Texas, while also offering a diverse range of housing options. This, along with the vibrant mix of very educated seniors and other age groups who choose to live here, makes the neighborhood more retiree-friendly than 98.9% of neighborhoods in TX. If a Texas retirement is in your future, this neighborhood should be one of the places you visit. In addition to being an excellent choice for active retirees, this neighborhood is also a very good choice for families with school-aged children”.


All My Best!






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