Monday was somewhat atypical for a Monday in that – work-wise – wasn’t at all insufferable and I hadn’t developed my usual Monday Headache. But then, around four o’ clock, it took a nose-dive of spectacular bravado and hit the earth so hard I’m still feeling the tremors.
My work-phone rang and, after a brief debate, I went ahead and picked it up. The gentleman on the other end verified that I was who he was looking for and then listed my home address. After I suspiciously certified it, he asked if someone would be home that evening so the sheriff’s office could serve me papers.
My heart thumped heavily and my head spun a bit as I asked why I was being served. I honestly had no idea and I guessed that I would know if I were about to be sued. He gave me two numbers: a phone number and a case number.
I called and discovered that a law firm out in California had obtained an old debt of mine. About four years ago I opened a credit card to help me when I moved to Cleveland. Then, after about three months, my employer there fired me after I inquired into filing a sexual harassment claim against a woman in my office.(1)(2) I was unable to find any work other than as a part-time barista until, through an impossible set of circumstances, I got my old job back and had to move all over again.
I was never able to pay what I owed on that credit card, and because of the alimony I was paying at the time I couldn’t pay what they asked me to pay before they sold my account as junk-debt. And now, years later, this firm was threatening to sue me. The gentleman on the phone told me that they’d sent me a letter two months ago to which I never responded. I said, ‘Sir, I’m sure you hear this from every single person who calls you, but I never received that letter. And I’ll swear to that in court.’ After a bit of discussion, I found out that they sent the letter to my old address. I’d moved back in August and the US Post Office only keep address-forwards on record for six months, so they never forwarded that letter to my current address.
While the gentleman on the phone agreed that I was being honest about the letter, it didn’t matter. The fact that I’d been given a case number meant that this issue was already in the court system. And I wasn’t disputing the debt so my choices were either pay up or be sued. The payment options were steep, though after a few calls I got to talk to the head honcho who offered me a decent deal. Either I pay $300 per month until the debt is paid off, which would take about 13 months, or I pay him a total of $2500 by the end of this month, which comes to slightly more than half of what I owe.
I did my research and validated the firm, even calling the Clerk of Courts in the county in which the company does business. This is a legitimate firm making me a legitimate offer to settle a legitimate debt.
I can almost do it. Sure, it’ll wipe out my savings and make life sort-of narrow for the next two months. But due to the fact that I get three paychecks this month instead of two(3) and due to the fact that I have money in savings in the first place, I can just about do it. I’d much rather deal with a tight financial situation for two months than for the next year or so. But I’m about $600 shy. Arg. My only option is to look into selling a few things, like my electric guitar and my amp.
The point of all of this is that, however this works out, when it’s done I’m getting my credit history and I’m finding out what I still have out there(4) and I’m fucking taking care of it. I’ve spent this entire week in a miasma of despondency, feeling tired and cranky and eating too much and keeping myself from thinking about this, and all because I was caught with my pants down. That’s not going to happen again.(5)
- Insouciantly: And because I don’t believe in not burning bridges I’ll tell you that my employer was Ohio Technical College.
- Powerlessly: Sure I knew what they did was illegal and I even got a law firm to look into it on consignment. But while they were certain that I had been retaliated against, they didn’t think enough money was to be won to make it worth their while.
- Distinctively: I don’t get payed bi-monthly but bi-weekly, so two months out of the year I get three paychecks.
- Positively: I think there are only two things, and neither are that much money.
- Actually: In a figurative sense. In reality I wear pants as infrequently as possible.