Fred Fach, 51, knew his decision would have consequences, but at the time he felt he had no choice. He had to quit his job as a fast-food restaurant manager and take care of his health.
He didn’t know why he felt so lousy, but he convinced himself it was time to go back to school and find a career that wasn’t as physically taxing and stressful.
“I wouldn’t have survived,” he said. “I probably would have died.”
Now he knows he has diabetes. His blood glucose level was over 500 when he finally went to the doctor. It should have been 100.
In a November interview, he said he has gotten the disease under control. He earned two associate degrees in accounting and business management fields, but he can’t even find a job in the restaurant business.
Three years later, his savings are gone and he has to live off the kindness of his sister in Massillon.
He estimates he hasn’t bought new clothes in more than two years.
His medicine is purchased with the help of family members and OPEN M.
“One of the things I have learned over the years is how to live with nothing,” Fach said. “If I didn’t have it, I didn’t spend it. Before, if you had it, you spent it.”
He’s ambivalent about accepting the label of being poor, even though he has no income.
“Yes and no, because if I didn’t have the support of my family, I would be [poor], but since I have that support of my family, no I am not,” he said.
His 401(k) retirement investment is gone. He fears his old car will break down and further limit him in his job prospects.
“I am part of the new poor but I was raised as part of the middle class,” he said.
And there’s one other problem that hinders and embarrasses him.
On Halloween night in 2008, he was stopped for driving while intoxicated. His blood alcohol was 0.82, two-hundreths over the limit.
“I made a mistake three years ago and I got an OVI,” he said. “I don’t drink. It was right after my divorce.”
He doesn’t volunteer that information to potential employers, but he doesn’t hide it, either.
“The only time I get depressed is when I go to a job interview and … if they ask me about my DUI or they say ‘Do you have anything on your driving record?’ a lot of them will tell you we can’t go any farther.”
He doesn’t blame anyone else for his problems. What he wants is a job.
In the meantime, he spends much of his time volunteering at OPEN M.
“I volunteer here a lot and it makes me feel good,” he said. “I guess you can call me the new poor, but it makes me feel good to help people.”