This year started out great. I had planned a 12-day trip by car through Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula and and all-day boat trip to glacier country.
Then later, for our 50th anniversary, we’d splurge on an Avalon Waterways small boat cruise on the Danube River, starting in Budapest and ending in Prague.
The stock-and-bonds markets were looking way up for my Traditional IRA retirement account.
Then the hammer hit. SARS-CoV2, generally known by its disease name of COVID-19.
First, with the retail shutdown the very-ad-dependent MidWeek “suspended” its paid columnists — that’s me, Dan Boylan and Jade Moon. Goodbye weekly salary. The CARES Act provides for self-employed people to tap into a state’s unemployment compensation, but a month after applying for it I have yet to see a penny. I’m lost somewhere in the state’s ancient-operating-systems computers. My stimulus money also is AWOL.
(oops, just got a notice last night. my MidWeek job rendered me ineligible for state money, apparently because MidWeek failed to contribute in my name to the state unemployment fund. merde!)
I had to cancel the Alaska trip. Much too risky with the virus afoot. Only one of the good-quality hotels I’d reserved through booking.com agreed to give me a refund. All the others relied on having given me a slightly reduced price in return for a no-refund reservation. Goodbye lots of money.
Alaska Airlines gave us a flight credit but says I have to use it by January of next year. I think I see that money flying away, too!
Then there’s the Danube trip. Even if Avalon decides it can sail on September 7, who wants to take a chance on a boat with 90 other people plus crew in close quarters every day and evening? They’ll refund me about one-third of my deposit and hold the rest toward a future trip if they go but I cancel. Will anybody ever want to cruise agains in the future? Goodbye more money.
Two sweet items in this saga. One is American Airlines. Full refund of our business-class fares. No, not because of the virus. It’s because AA had changed the departure time of my flight out of Honolulu by more than one hour, and under those conditions a passenger may demand a refund. And bless the Hilo Bay Hotel. It fully refunded my wife and daughter for their booked five-night stay for the Merrie Monarch Festival, which was cancelled. It’s local owned and has local values. Thank you!
I still have my retirement investment. I have faith it will be restored once these shutdowns end. But full restoration might be a few years off.
I’m much more worried about the marginal workers in my life. My woman barber at Supercuts Waialae, a Vietnamese immigrant just getting by. The Vietnamese women who have done my pedicures at the Modern Nails salon in Kaimuki. These are people living on very little even in good times. If their unemployment compensation claims are as dormant as mine, they are probably in dire financial conditions.
Yes, it’s the year of lost money.