Curious about Bankruptcy

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      Hi Kathie,

      I just saw your post go through, and I’ve been down that road, so I’ll
      tell you from my own experience with the understanding that the
      laws have changed since my husband and I were forced to file in
      1985.

      We had found ourselves in a rather strange situation. Three years
      earlier, we had graduated college, and I had been hoping to go on
      for all the fancy letters that move one toward a Ph.D in English. It
      was the era of Reaganomics, 1982, and jobs were scarce.

      So were
      scholarships for students wanting to go on, especially if they weren’t
      fortunate enough to come with a family with fat wallets.

      I had received awards for my academic achievement to no avail. I
      couldn’t get scholarships to go on. My husband, then still my
      boyfriend, from another culture (Cantonese, born in Hong Kong),
      had tried to make use of his degree only to be told he wasn’t good
      enough, qualified enough, and it was hinted that he probably didn’t
      speak the language well enough even though he’d been in this
      country since he was 6.

      Completely by fluke, we found ourselves in business with my egg
      rolls. My mother had loaned us the $10 to try to sell a few to keep
      going. Suddenly, we found ourselves with a $100,000 corporation,
      marketing more than 200 dozen egg rolls a day to major frozen
      food distributors, colleges and universities and fine dining
      restaurants.

      But we grew too quickly, a curse on a start up
      company like ours, in a food industry where much in the way of
      politics goes on. We had a huge kitchen with a large freezer, the
      works. Even Hunt’s Company was shipping Sunflower oil to us to
      keep up with supply and demand.

      We had employees because I
      had been able to do 20 dozen a day on my own, not ten times
      that. We were working 15 hours a day to try to keep up.

      When I say the company exploded, that’s putting it mildly. We
      grew and grew but were unable to keep up with the demands of
      an ever-more demanding market. People loved the eggrolls,
      even though they were selling in the fine dining restaurants for
      $1.75 *each.* They wanted more.

      Meanwhile, the ninth largest supermarket chain in the nation at
      that time wanted to move the eggrolls from the local market to
      their national chain. Our investors wouldn’t hear of it, and in a
      matter of days, our company came to a screeching halt.

      As it happens, this was about three weeks after our wedding,
      and my second son was on the way, to be born in 1984. With
      work doled by the pittance, temp jobs for my husband, we were
      so broke, we had to request assistance from the Hilburton Fund
      for our son’s delivery. All that, and we had over $100,000 in
      debt and were barely surviving.

      We kept trying to find a way
      out of debt, and the interest kept piling higher.

      We weren’t frivolous, but let’s be honest, who needs a walk-in
      freezer in a rented house? The size we needed would have
      filled one room.

      And so we filed. I was terrified we’d lose the car. We had barely
      anything as it was, and we needed the car for my husband to
      find work.

      The judgment came in July 1985. And in the interim, we lost
      nothing, and the collectors stopped calling as each was notified
      of the filing. We were also mortified and afraid we would never
      be able to start over again.

      (This time, being alone, I have
      nothing, so bankruptcy isn’t an issue for getting back on my feet.)
      But we did, and we rebuilt, and while it wasn’t easy and not everyone
      was willing to trust us, we did rebuild, slowly, one day at a time, and
      we lost not one iota of what we had…just the debts. We gained a
      chance to start over again.

      Was I glad we did it? No. I was embarrassed and then some.

      But
      on retrospect, it was the only alternative we had at that time. This
      isn’t a decision one makes lightly, nor is it a decision others can
      make for you. You have to do what’s right in your mind and heart
      and be committed to rebuilding because you really don’t want to
      do it again.

      I refuse to judge another for such a decision. There are always
      mitigating circumstances that outsiders can’t possibly know. It
      was a tragic day in our lives, but it was right at that time.

      Whether
      that’s still the case with the change in the laws, I honestly don’t
      know. I’ve heard one has stiffer regulations to follow today.

      With all my heart, for those who do find they’re forced into such
      a decision, I wish them well and hold them in my prayers because
      it’s a tough road to start over again.

      I hope that helps to answer the questions, Kathie.

      Warmly,
      Michelle

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