Thursday, June 01, 2006

How I Became My Own Consumer Credit Counseling Service And Bounced Back From My Bad Credit Nightmare (part 6, continued)

A month before I was laid off the company had dismantled the severance-pay policy that offered one month of salary for every year of service to employees who were given the ax. Lucky me.

Yeah, I showed up at work on a Wednesday morning and was told that Friday would be my last day. It was hard for me to get angry at my boss, who was responsible for passing along the bad news to me -- Friday was to be his last day, too.

Ever notice that when you're the one who voluntarily leaves the company, you're expected to exhibit professional courtesy and give your employers at the very least 2 weeks' notice so that they won't be left in the lurch?

Ever notice the same professional courtesy doesn't extend to you? Talk about having your cake and eating it too.

I would collect unemployment for the next four months, but during that time my already paltry income would scrape the rock-bottom bare subsistence levels that I hope most of you have never had the misfortune of having to contend with..

The frigging nanosecond I fell behind, bill collectors swirled down like radioactive fallout, like vultures at Carcuses 'R Us.

I tried to be magnaminous as I listened to their threats. After all, they were just doing their jobs. And they weren't all bad. One guy from Sears whose name was "Mr. Box" - I kid you not - called every evening and the two of us cracked each other up telling risque jokes, reciting limmericks, arguing about the Lakers.

Mr. Box eventually got fired for drinking on the job. On the day he was terminated, he called me one last time to tell me, slurring, "Liszen, dude, I like you, so I deleted your file from the Zears compruter."

I thanked him. But a shiver sprinted up my spine as I realized, albeit dimly, that so much of this credit history business was in the hands of others, and that others were capricious.

Most of the bill collectors I dealt with didn't drink on the job - of course, I can't prove that - and were not as nice as Mr. Box.

One guy called me at precisely one minute after 8:00 am every day, then called again at one minute before 9:00 pm. You see, debt collectors aren't supposed to call you after 9:00 pm or before 8:00 am, unless you've give them permission to. This guy was toying with me, demonstrating his superior verbal skills by deftly articulating everything he had to say within the space of 60 seconds: "Why don't you do the decent thing, take responsibility for your actions, and pay your debt to the XYZ corporation before you're publicly humiliated in court?"

Click.

This freak had it down pat. He would slam the phone down with only 1 second to spare - yeah, I know for a fact it was one second. My own weird pathology in the face of this phone-engendered stress was such that I had taken to timing this guy with a stop watch whenever he called, hoping to catch him in the merest fractional violation of the law.

I never did.

But if he miscalculated and finished early, leaving 10 seconds or so, I always had a reply for him. Something like, "It must be tough trying to support your family on minimum wage. I'll tell you what. I'll do the decent thing when you get a real job. I hear Micky D's is hiring. That would be a step up for you, wouldn't it? You see, your mom was right - you should never have dropped out of high school."

I told my friends about these calls and how I looked forward to them. I gave them the impression that it was an opportunity for me to vent all my pent-up spleen, spew bitterness and venom in ever more heartfelt and florid diatribes.

But the truth was that the calls were getting to me. They were slowly but surely eroding my self esteem, along with the lining of my stomach. I changed my number to an unlisted one and somehow, somehow these people managed to obtain the number. The calls continued ...(to be continued)

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