Bleeding Red Ink

Last week was hell.

We’re going out of business, my company, day by day. Falling behind, racking up debt, scraping the dregs of our vacant bank account, failing. I’ve watched this for months—since they hired me to fix the finances, to make it rain money.

I fixed a nonprofit once before. That’s what everyone says. He rescued it from the brink of collapse. The credit is squarely on my shoulders. This is BS, I ran the numbers. Someone else made the hard decisions. I just pointed out the problems.

I pointed out the problem here, too. We spend more than we earn. Far more. But no one made any hard decisions. We borrowed more money.

You’re the accountant, you say. You just watched this happen?

I needed a job.

On Thursday, twenty-four hours before our health insurance cancelled, we sent out an appeal. We’re going out of business, we’re going to close our doors. We got a flurry of contributions, we paid our insurance bill.

But not the rent. Or the guy who cuts the lawn; the company that sells us computers. They won’t get paid. They’re going to eat their losses. They’ve learned a valuable lesson. Don’t trust anyone.

Those last-minute contributions make my stomach hurt. People digging deep to keep us afloat. Still in business—for what, a month? Probably less. I plan our cash flow. We’re negative after we pay our employees next week. And then we’re gone. If not now, next time, or next. We keep skimming along. Alive, but deeper in a hole.

It won’t last. We won’t pay our staff. We’ll be evicted. The grocery store that sells us food for our shelter will cut us off. Any of these events will trigger our spiral. People will be disemployed; others will be homeless, hungry, unsafe.

Tomorrow, I’m back at work. Another week of watching red ink bleed. Shuffling funds, looking for the sweet spot that extends our closure date by weeks, or days, or hours.

I sent out a resume today. It’s a promising position. I’ve been looking for a job since March. I hope this one works out. Soon.