By: Revanche

“I want another chance”

December 11, 2007

Credit: Dolores Neilson

says the Sultan of Second Chances.

Got a call from BroDucky the other day. He’s getting a real job, he says. At least, his girlfriend has given him a whole list of leads. He’s going to get a real job, and he’s been making do borrowing transportation and getting rides, but he really wants to make things right with the car situation because he doesn’t feel right borrowing other people’s cars, etc.

He wants to know if there’s anything he can do to get a car back. He wants to know if I’m willing to work with him because he wants to pay me back, but he needs to get a job for that to happen. He needs to be able to get to the job, though, and for that, he needs a car. So, how about it, sis? But he totally understands, says he, if I’m not willing to let him have a car back.

As if that’s my fault that he can’t be responsible enough to pay for the car and insurance, and that it’s my call, whether or not he should get the car back.

Ok, it is my call. After all, I’ve got the keys, I’ve got the insurance paperwork, and I’m paying the bills. So it’s my call. But I HATE his manipulations that are juuuust so “reasonable” and so mild. “It’s up to you.” “I want to do the right thing.” And so on. He makes it hard to just verbally shut him down because I so desperately want him to get on the right path and do the right thing. And incidentally, pay me back the thousands of dollars he owes me. The worst part is that I’m fairly certain he doesn’t even see it like a manipulation. This is him “trying” and “making up for all the bad times.” Man, this is supposed to be improvement?? At least he’s not living under my roof anymore.

But I told him to get a real paying job first. Get a job with a salary or a living wage and secure it. Don’t bring me leads, don’t bring me connections. I want a secured job, and a start date and an actual first day, a paystub for the love of Jim, EV-ER-Y-THING. Get that done, and then come talk to me.

At the end of the day, I have to remember that he comes to me when he wants something. That I’m only one of many options, and that I’m only the easiest option if I slip up and allow him to use me. I have to stay strong and remember that he could be an advertising exec, he’s so smooth, and even after 25 years of co-existing, it’s too easy for me to buy into his “earnest” act. Because if he really wanted to make things right, he’d get the job, work his butt off, save the money and pay me back. And he’d find a way to make it happen. It’s not my job to make this work for him, it’s not my job to make it possible for him to work. It’s HIS job, HIS life, and HIS responsibility.

I tell Pa and MaDucky that all the time. I cannot afford to slip and let him take advantage of me, too. Literally, I cannot afford to make another mistake.

Big brothers aren’t supposed to be this way. They’re supposed to be warm, supportive and comforting. Safe havens! I should be able to go to him for moral support, not turning away from him in exasperation and despair. Oh, how I wish for the strength and wisdom to see this through to the end.

So, what to do from here? Assuming he manages to land a job, and actually starts working, I have absolutely no way of assuring that he continues to work once he gets the car. So then what? He has, to be fair, managed to do a couple things in good faith, like returning the car after royally angering me by taking it in the first place. Handed over the keys, as promised. But other than that? He’s not paid a dime since July.

I suppose I could require him to pay back all the back payments and pay a month in advance for all payments from now on. It’s not likely that he’ll have that kind of money wherever he works. But is that a reasonable requirement?

Suggestions would be appreciated. My brain is drained.

7 Responses to ““I want another chance””

  1. sabrina says:

    Well, since you asked…

    I believe that family comes first, and you need to stand by each other in a crisis or emergency. You obviously don’t want your brother to starve or suffer, and you want to maintain friendly, sisterly relations with him. However, given your long brother’s history of financial irresponsibility, you’re right in being firm and demanding that he “prove himself” before you extend him any more credit–which includes use of the car. Tell him to ask himself what he would do if you (and his former car) weren’t in the picture at all, and he was alone in the world. He would do the same as anyone else without a car: he would find a job within walking distance (moving to a lower-rent neighborhood, if necessary) or that he could get to by means of public transportation. If his paycheck didn’t cover bus- or trainfare, he would need to find something else. Let him see whether his list of leads is realistic in that light; if not, he needs a better list. Then, once he’s employed, he needs to start making regular payments to you.

    The only concession I’d allow would be for you to keep his old car for a few months longer, instead of selling it to recoup your losses (your life is so stress-filled right now that you probably can’t deal with selling the car before spring, anyway). Then, after he’s been working for a specified period (say, 6 months) and making regular payments to you, you might begin LEASING him the car. That might be a nice incentive for him. But I sure wouldn’t do that right now.

    Good luck, and stay strong!

  2. sabrina says:

    Ummm, that should be: “your brother’s long history…” I’m not sure how tall he is! 😉

  3. SavingDiva says:

    I say that you should give him a certain point to pay you back from July until whenever. If he doesn’t pay you back before the date you set, you sell the car to recoup your losses. I think you have to put your foot down…

  4. E.C. says:

    I’m inclined to agree with Savingdiva and Sabrina, your brother must demonstrate responsibility before you even think of letting him use the car again. If Bro can’t manage to pay you what he owes and stay current on payments, he shouldn’t get to use the car. It isn’t your job to subsidize his irresponsibility, and once he finds a job, he needs to work towards paying you back. If he can’t afford that, then he cannot afford the car in question and may have to make serious lifestyle changes. If he doesn’t make the payments, then the car is entirely yours to do with as you please, including sell. If he finds a job and can’t afford the car, you should sell it and suggest he begin saving toward some old, beat up, but functional car he can buy without your help.

    It’s clear that you’re expected to take care of your family, which I understand, I do, but allowing your brother to drain your financial and emotional resources is detrimental to you and your parents. Your proposed requirements sound utterly reasonable, and you have good reason to stick to your guns.

  5. Wow, after that long post and before I read all of your thoughtful comments, I left work to find myself entangled in an enormous fight with my brother.

    He’d called to borrow the car when I was at work, and called again when I was on the train. I took a few minutes to compose myself before calling him back and asked him why he was able to arrange transportation to and from the house and not the place he was looking for a job.

    I was looking for any sign of resourcefulness or responsibility. After a long conversation with him insisting that he’d tried and couldn’t find any other rides, I relented and told him that I would drive him to his interview myself.

    That’s when the truth came out: we’d spent all that time on the phone for no reason because he’d lied to me. He’d gone to the house, and when I didn’t return his call soon enough, he took the keys to the car and left.

    Now, my anger at him basically stealing the car aside, I was furious that he’d lied to me. Of course I expected him to manipulate and charm his way into whatever he wanted, but he flat out lied to me.

    I lost my temper entirely.

    I made him wait for me at home, and then took the car keys and his house keys away. He refused to acknowledge that lying to me was wrong, that he’d betrayed my trust when I’d been more accommodating than he could ever have expected, and was actually angry at ME for not understanding HIM and HIS situation.

    Typical self-centered, immature arrogance. It’s all about how I don’t understand HIS stress; never about how his actions affect others. Never about how any of us have tried to help him avoid this situation.

    Friend and I went to Home Depot to find out how difficult changing locks would be. I’ve only ever done it on my bedroom door, and never on the front door. BoyDucky and I will be changing the locks tonight. I can no longer trust him and have no idea what he might do next.

    I spent hours berating myself, thinking I should have handled it better, that I should have done something differently. I feel like I’ve failed my family, that I’ve broken it up. But ultimately, what’s done is done. If he truly meant to do better, to do the right thing, to make things right, he will. Nothing I say would make a difference – it’s never made a difference before.

    More on this later ….

  6. E.C. says:

    Wow. Reading your update led to a bit of cursing in Polish under my breath. Wow.

    I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this.

  7. Honey, don’t beat yourself up over it. He hasn’t learned, he’ll never learn and it won’t ever happen unless he gets a big kick in the butt by someone other than you.

    I’m in the same position with my brother, but at least now he’s turning onto the right track, so I’m happy to help. But I’m not bending backwards for him again…

    I totally believe that family comes first, but you can’t trust him. Changing the locks on your room – that’s pretty drastic.. and it’s a sign that you did all you could and you can’t exhaust yourself thinking about this any longer.

    I hate to say it, but cut him out (emotionally), and stop berating yourself over it. You’ve done the best you can. *much love and hugs*

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