Friday, August 17, 2007

The answer is "Hemingway"

On of my memorable high school moments occurred in sophomore English Composition class, with instructor extraordinaire, Mr. Hooper.

On Friday's he sponsored something he called, B-Essay Day (or BS day for short) wherein he would have the class pick a topic and write a one-page essay on that topic, making up facts, figures, quotes -- anything you wanted or needed to fill out the page, all the while attempting to produce a convincingly pure literary work of non-fictitious fiction.

At the end of the class, he'd scan through them, pick his top 3 picks, and staple either 1,2, or 3 pieces of TP onto the winning essay, from a roll of Charmin that hung on a hook at the front blackboard.

His theory was that as we prepared for college and life beyond, many of us would need to use and develop our BS'ing skills to get by and get ahead. While some may say it was a negative slant on the view of the world, I appreciated his candor and honesty and learned a great deal from Mr. Hooper. Heck, I was 16.

Course, he was also the guy who told us that if we were ever on Jeopardy or any other game show, and were taxed with a question of a literary nature that we didn't know the answer to, we should blurt out "Hemingway." We'd probably be wrong, but it's better than saying nothing.

Given those valuable lessons from my youth, in June of this year, we received this letter - it was sent to our old address in LA, which is why we received it a month after it was sent out.

The scriblings on it are mine, made is haste as I made the requisite call to see WTF was up with this bogus letter.

I called them and discussed the case with a nice lady agent who revealed the facts of the claim to be the following:Someone with my wife's exact name had co-signed on a home alarm system in 2003, at a residence shared with a Mr. Aaron Doran, of Germfask Township, Michigan.

The alarm was installed at her verified residence at 835 Lemay Ave, in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and the outstanding payment for services rendered and equipment were in excess of $1,200.

As co-signee on the contract, my wife (or so they thought) was responsible for payment since Mr. Aaron Doran had skipped town on the last train to Clarkesville and was nowhere to be found.
The Agent and I verbally verified that the person they were looking for with the exact same first, middle, and last name as my wife, wasn't my wife, since...1) My wife had never known, lived, or purchased an alarm system with someone named Aaron Doran.
2) My wife never heard of Germfask Township (have you?), nor had she ever lived in the Great lakes State.
3) My wife had never co-signed an agreement to purchase a home alarm system at 835 Lemay Ave in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
4) At the time of said purchase and contract signing, my wife and I were in the throes of babydom, expecting our 2nd princess to be c-sect'd any day now.
The agent agreed to get a hold of the original contract so that we could verify that the signature was different. In addition we discussed how IRS records could prove that my wife had never resided in Michigan. This we felt, was enough evidence to verify that they had gotten the wrong gal.

I also tossed around the idea of sending them a signed affidavit by my wife stating the fact that she was not the person whom they were looking for, while providing verifiable information to that fact, but the Agent seemed satisfied with what we had discussed.

I should have sent it anyway. Read on.

In the intervening 3 months, I hadn't heard a peep, nor postal pop from these people, so I figured they had indeed found the correct person responsible for payment on the alarm and were now doggedly chasing her tail.

Fast Forward to this morning.

I get a call on my cell and on the other end was a stoic gent who robotically stated a case number, and the fact they I needed to contact them by 5 p.m mountain time (Denver) to resolve this case or it would be forwarded to legal.

First call, got the Tin Man's voicemal, left a message with a brief explanation of our situation, domo arigato, Mr. Roboto.

Second call, got through to an Agent who listened to my story, then proved he hadn't heard a word I said when he asked me how my wife would like to pay the outstanding debt.


Let me talk to the big boss. When in doubt, escalate the call.

Big Boss gets on the line, I tell him the same story, get told that the nice Agent I spoke with back in June is no longer with the company, and that the information they have available all points to the fact that they indeed do have the right gal to foot the bill, and THAT my wife.

Realizing quickly that I wasn't going to get anywhere with the Big Boss, it was time to call forth the best George Costanza I could muster and start spouting some of Mr. Hooper's well-versed bovine boy poop.Who should I have my lawyer contact...He paused.

Wait, was that a poker tell.

Did he just stumble on the mention of the dreaded "l" word or was he preoccupied with a rubbery tchochkie on his desk.?

Was he nerve struck at the first sign of a possible legal sparring match between marginally educated Juris Doctor's or did he just find something funny on YouTube?

Was the path to salvation from this pointy-headed debt collector handed to me as a 3-D map with full instructions, or did the Twizzler he was munching on get stuck between his lower bicuspids?

After his pause, he recovered quickly and I was told that since the case hadn't been closed just yet, it hadn't been assigned to legal, so he wouldn't be able to tell me who specifically to have my lawyer contact. I pressed further with the lawyer-shinola, trying to capitalize on his ill-fated pregnant pause. It wasn't much, but that and the TRUTH was all I had.Is the legal dept. in-house, or do you have a firm on retainer, and if so, who at the firm can I tell my lawyer to contact?

Again, you're asking me for information that I don't have, so I can't tell you.

Okay then, what happens next?

You'll receive a letter from Legal...

Could you have them call me instead, or could I call them directly?

Once the case is assigned....

It went back and forth like this for awhile, and I was running out of good legal bullshit terminology gleaned from years of watching LA Law and Law and Order, so I left it as it was and we hung up.

I turned to my F-i-L who was in the bathroom cutting up Fiberock as we're getting ready to tile the vanity top and sink back splash, back splash wall for the tub, and the shower enclosure and gave him my best Spock raised eyebrow as he chuckled, having heard my BS exhortations.

He was in the middle of telling me a story of how my M-i-L's Am Ex # was fraudulently used to buy $1,500 worth of merchandise in Honduras, when my cell phone rang again.

It was him.

Just needed to verify a few things before they proceeded with the case...


(To be continued)


flintysooner said...

Hemingway is a good answer or maybe Steinbeck. Mr. Cooper was indeed extraordinary and BS Day should absolutely become a standard I think.

Be sure to run a credit report to make sure the collection idiots don't report something. If they do use your Mr. Cooper honed gift to make the credit outfits remove the erroneous information.

Darren said...

Great story so far. The beginning reminded me of once hearing that a good guess to anything biology related would be to blurt out "the liver."

If they're still calling back, also tell them that you're recording the conversation.

peggydavis said...

If they call back tell them you are going to call Drew Edmondson, Oklahoma Attorney General. That usually stops them in their tracks.

Hope your small town is OK after the recent floods.