My mother died early on a Saturday in St. Louis. Right away my sister asked, "When are you coming out?" I was a cook at Al's Good Food Café on Mission, making $10 an hour. I didn't have the money. I collected from friends what they could give. Got an advance from my boss. But I still couldn't get there.
So I went to the payday loan store. You can't miss their signs, especially when you're looking for a sign from God. I got a $300 loan. You write a check for $300, but date it for your next pay day. You get the cash right away, minus $45. I went to St. Louis. I lost a week of work. I came back, and I was still broke. And I had this loan.
The problem is, you have to pay the whole $300 in two weeks. That's their pay day. There's no way to pay off just a piece. I was making $500 every two weeks. I just didn't have $300. And they were about to cash my post-dated check.
They said, "Don't worry. We'll give you another loan to cover it." Minus, of course, another $45 fee. This went on for two years. I was on the rat wheel. I paid $45 every two weeks. Because I didn't have $300 to pay off my debt.
When my car broke down, I asked if I could please, please, have more time. They said no. They called my job -- thank God I didn't get fired. They threatened to call the DA, press charges for a bounced check. I was trapped. Ashamed, I didn't want to tell anyone. I had written a check and thought, it's easy. When you ain't got nothing you think, "what's $45?" It's not going to break me. But when I figured it out, after 10 months it was $1,000. I thought loan sharking was a crime. It's not. It's legal.