I got a call from a credit collection agency today. That’s not really surprising, considering the absolute financial chaos I’ve allowed in my life. Personal drama queen excuses aside, I never should have let my family life screw up my credit history the way I have. It was a stupid stupid stupid thing to do and I should have known better.
Hindsight is always better.
I think I’ve already mentioned that I signed up with Money Management to help try to get my crap together. I’ve already received letters from some of my creditors, of which there are many, stating that they will be happy to go along with this method of repayment. And I’m not that late, just a little bit. And they will get their money. It’ll just take a longer time. Most of them have been very nice about it.
Except American Express.
Admittedly, I owe the people at American Express a lot of money. And I do mean a lot. Also, truthfully, I’m supposed to have paid them off within 30 days of receiving my bill. And, again truthfully, I never should have charged up anything if I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to pay them back.
Yadda, yadda, yadda. Words, words, words.
Looking at it from their point of view, I’m in the wrong and they’re within their rights to take me to court. Looking at it from their point of view, they don’t have to make any allowances for my personal problems and work out a payment schedule that would get them their money and avoid legal costs and hassles. Looking at it from their point of view, I’m just a moocher and I deserve anything I get.
I don’t have the luxury of looking at it from their side.
American Express is a multinational company with millions and millions of dollars. A company that has services which extend lines of credit in exchange for an interest rate. A company that has seen my money and done business with my for nearly ten years now. A company that would save time and energy and even money if they just sat down and thought about being practical for a moment. I’m not threatening to default on the money I owe them. I’m not telling them that I’m never paying them or that I’m starting to pay them back a year from now or next year or even next month. I’ve sent partial payments. My credit counselor has sent them numerous letters requesting a repayment proposal. It’s not like I’m being completely irresponsible. I’m just not the perfect client anymore.
Anyway, getting back to the collection agency. Donna, the woman who called me at work to discuss my paying American Express the money I owe them, was almost polite on the phone. I didn’t yell or rant at her because it’s just the beginning and she’s just doing her job and, really, I expected this call sooner or later. Donna told me that I had to pay back the money or risk legal action. And then I would be responsible for court fees and fines and all that stuff.
By the way, I’m doing the brandy thing tonight, when I get home. This is the one last thing needed to push me over the edge.
Donna suggested that I get a loan, which of course I can’t. She suggested that I enlist my husband’s help in paying this off, and I’m not married. She suggested that I borrow the money from someone, and everyone I know is worse off than I am. Those were my options. None of which help me at all.
She gave me her phone number and told me to think about a plan of action over the weekend. As if anything would have changed by Monday. But I am supposed to call her on Monday to work something out.
The thing that really burned me was the condescending way she spoke to me. If it had been her and she had seen that she had lost her job or gotten into financial trouble, she would have made sure she paid her debts before anything else. Like doctor’s bills are supposed to be put behind a credit care payment. Like getting my car fixed, and thus having no way to get to work because Houston doesn’t have a transportation system that goes to my part of town, is supposed to come second to paying a creditor.
I understand that it’s her job, but it’s a job I couldn’t do. And I know many people who would have reamed her out for assuming she knew anything about my ‘real life.’ How dare she assume she has any idea of what was going on at the time I allowed this shit to happen? And I didn’t even try to explain anything to her. She’s not calling to hear excuses. She’s calling to let me know what my options are.
I don’t have any.
The first thing I did was call my counselor. Of course, she wasn’t in. I spoke to someone else and she called American Express for me. She told me that American Express was going to accept repayment through their program, but would get back to them on a payment schedule.
I cannot tell you how relieved I am. I had visions of losing the little bit I have: my car and my salary. I had visions of having to pay for court costs and going before a judge and explaining how I screwed up and didn’t do it on purpose and would never do it again. I had a waking nightmare of my life getting even more complicated and that’s not what I need.
What I need is for someone to take care of me. I need to come into money or get a job that pays considerably more money than I’m making; since I work for the state, making more money wouldn’t be that hard. I need someone to take my care to the mechanic’s and make sure that they fix it right this time. I need someone to sit my parents down and tell them that they’re acting like children. I need someone to take my sisters aside and tell them that they’re not helping and they have to behave themselves. I need for someone to take everything out of my hands, just for a little while, and let me live without these daily doses of waking nightmares.
What’re the chances I’ll find what I need?