The Year Of Lost Money

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.

Published by Bob Jones

Journalist since age 19. St. Petersburg Times, Noticias y Viajes in Madrid, Overseas Weekly in Frankfurt and Paris, the Louisville Courier- Journal, the Honolulu Advertiser, KGMB-TV, NBC News foreign correspondent in Africa and Southeast Asia, and MidWeek columnist. LL.B LaSalle University Law. 3 years in the U.S. Air Force. Covered: Biafran War in Nigeria (1968) Vietnam War (1969-73), Iraq in 1991. George Foster Peabody Award for distinguished journalism for reporting in China. 2 Emmys for documentaries. Married to journalist Denby Fawcett; one daughter. Brett Jones, foreign service officer, State Department.

6 replies on “The Year Of Lost Money”

  1. Something tells me you will be doing a piece in 6 months “The Year of Lost Homes”.

  2. Yes, there are people who are worse off than us. I am so glad it costs so little for us to live in our house. No mortgage, no maintenance fee, and no rent to pay at all for the rest of our lives. We are very fortunate indeed.

  3. We are fortunate we cancelled an “around the world cruise” for 104 days several months before the COVID 19 hit for reasons unrelated to the pandemic. We would have been stuck off-loading in Perth in late March if we had not and might still be there.

  4. Here in the Continental USA poor are hurting too. Illegals are flowing back over the border to where ever they can. All want to go to Hawaii. Yes if they could.
    I am a owner of a RV just purchased before this debacle. Had plans ended including 15 anniversary to Disney World and crater of Diamonds.
    To go on the road we will be safe and not in crowds but national parks closed as are most visitor attractions. We will see it so different in a month here in Texas as it will open slowly not like Hawaii where the gestopal like restraint even stops you from choosing.
    The two nations that are open,Taiwan and Sweden will give us a big indication of their economic recovery. The world will be needing cheap labor to get out of trouble and I for one will keep my investment in America.

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