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Sleepwalking (by Billy Coffey)


Take a walk through my town and you’ll likely see more than one person who reminds you of yourself, if only on the inside—generally middle class, generally happy, generally a little worried about the state of things.

We walk the balance beam of prosperity here. Most have neither too much nor too little, and for the most part we’re good with that. We have enough to get by, enough to dream of having more, and enough to feel like we’re living our lives the way we’re supposed to.

There are exceptions, of course. Some have a lot of money and don’t mind telling you. Others struggle to make sure there’s dinner on the table. Me, I’ve always thought it was the rich people who had to be more careful about money than the poorer folks. The more you have, the more you want. That’s what I always say.

Money is a snare, Paul said in his first letter to Timothy. I think that’s true. I’ve seen a lot of people ruined by it. And not just the rich.

Enter Danny.

Danny lives in a modest home in a modest neighborhood, which is appropriate considering he has a modest family. Wife, daughter, son, and two dogs he takes hunting with him every year. Like most everyone else, Danny’s family has enough. More than enough, really. But for him, it’s always been too little. His job at the grocery store provides his family with the necessities of life. They have the shelter and the food and the clothing. But he’s always dreamed of having more.

The 1985 Chevy truck he drives to work can get him there, which is okay. But it can’t get him there in style, which would be even better. And his home, a twenty-year-old double wide with leaky faucets and drafty windows, is comfortable. But it’s not fancy. And if there is anything Danny wants in life, it’s a good dose of fancy.

Unfortunately for him, such a lifestyle cannot normally be gotten by stocking cans of chicken noodle soup and mopping floors. All Danny knows is groceries. Ask him where any item is, and he can tell you. A can of beans not labeled? Danny knows the price. Want to know how to tell a good watermelon from a bad one? Ask him. He’s given his life to the grocery store. Been there nearly twenty years.

But that’s where his talents end. Danny’s been given the opportunity over the years to climb the corporate ladder. Those grocery store managers don’t live in double-wides and drive twenty-year-old trucks, he says. But he’s found that some of the rungs on that ladder are missing, and he’s always ended up back where he started.

“I just don’t have much business sense,” he told me.

To him, he’s stuck. Stuck stocking shelves and emptying boxes and handling the cash register when someone calls in sick. And it makes him miserable. His is not a bad life, and he’ll admit that. But it is neither a good life, and that eats at him.

Still, he dreams of better things. He always carries around one of those free homes books so he can dream of where he wants to live and hate where he lives now. And the other day he got to sit in Travis Campbell’s new Chevy. Which just reminded him of how bad his own truck looks, of course.

I often wonder if what Danny would think if he lost what little he had. If he woke up one day and found his family and his home and his job gone. And I wonder, too, if I’m not a lot like him in some ways. I tend to look around at what everyone has and forget about all I’ve been given, too.

So I’ve made myself a promise. I’m going to be happy with what I have. No doubt I’ll still dream. Dreaming is good. But not when it keeps you asleep to your blessings.

And in the meantime, I’ll say a prayer for Danny. I hope he wakes up, too. Because as far as I can tell, he’s the only poor person I’ve ever known who was ruined by money.

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To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at at his website and follow him on the twitter at @billycoffey.

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P.S. – I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish my friend Wendy A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Now, y’all go over to her blog, Weight…What? and do that same, kay?