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home : columns : dear harriette October 23, 2020

7/23/2020 4:22:00 PM
Reader in debt worries about creditors

DEAR HARRIETTE: I still have crazy debt that I cannot pay because I haven't worked since March due to the coronavirus. I am scared to call my creditors because I don't have anything new to say to them. I interview all the time, and I just haven't found anything yet. What should I say or do now when I can only send pennies to companies that I owe thousands? -- Need To Pay

DEAR NEED TO PAY: Sadly, many people are in this situation, which actually could make it a bit easier for you. As tough as it may feel to get on the phone and talk to your creditors, do it. Call them and share your story. Be honest and clear. If you can pay something, offer that amount -- but not more.

The worst thing would be to make a promise you cannot fulfill. Most creditors will be happy to create a payment plan, even if it is over a long period of time. Your proactivity will help you to feel better. You should also ask if there is any chance they will give you a break on the amount you owe since you are being as responsible as you can.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I don't have air conditioning, and I'm having a hard time managing videoconferences where I have to be seen all the time. I find myself sweating during the day, including during these calls. I have a fan, but it is loud, so people can hear it when I'm talking. I'm not sure what to do. I want to be professional at my job, but living and working from home is tough for me. When I was at the office, my home's lack of air conditioning was never a professional issue, and it was nobody's business. How can I handle this? -- No Air

DEAR NO AIR: I feel for you! It's amazing how many issues come up when working at home, especially because so many meetings call for videoconferencing. As I have said before, I do like it when people show their faces when they are talking, but it doesn't have to be all the time. Even more, you should definitely keep your fan on. If they hear it and ask what the sound is, say it's your fan. The end.

You can mute yourself when you aren't talking to muffle the sound otherwise. I have heard all kinds of sounds during these types of calls, from babies crying to horns honking, workers doing construction within earshot, husbands shouting -- everything. Your fan is just one more sound. Do your best to dress lightly so that you can be as comfortable as possible, and keep that fan blowing!

If you find yourself sweating, turn off the camera and wipe your brow. Drink some cool water and sit back down. Good luck.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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