Thursday, March 01, 2007

It's a cold, cold ground

In northern Illinois, we are experiencing that special time of year when we get a large amount of rain on top of the existing snowpack and frozen soil, resulting in flood warnings and treacherous road conditions.

In the last two hours, we’ve experienced torrential downpours, flurries, and more downpours.

It is my goal this evening to put on non-working clothes, sit on my duff and stay warm. Because we’re getting the house ready for back-to-back birthday parties for the kids, I’ll only get to accomplish one of my goals.

I got a call last night from one of my father’s largest creditors. They were looking to settle the account for a mere 78 cents on the dollar. After explaining that there was no money available to settle the account, they dropped down to 68 cents on the dollar.

I explained (again) that there was no money available to pay the bill. I then had to suffer through attacks on my father’s character (probably well-deserved), then attacks on my family and then on me. If I really cared for my father, they said. I’d write them a check for the $16,000 right now.

I do care for my father, although I am very angry and frustrated that he put himself into this position. Whether he pays them or not, nothing is going to happen to him. He can’t go to jail, and he can’t lose any more than he’s lost so far. His recent lack of character is NOT a reflection on me.

The collector tried all sorts of other guilt trips on me, but I was immune. All I want is that they leave him be. If he had the money, he’d pay it back, I’d like to think.

He got this credit card in 2000. At that time, he was retired and had only social security income. My mother was not working (she spent most of 2000 in a coma), and yet Citibank managed to give him a $25,000 credit line. Shit, in 2000 I earned $80,000 more than my father did, and I don’t have a $25,000 credit card. I wouldn’t want one.

After the phone call, I was angry, anxious, and nauseous. Not angry with the debt collectors, they were just doing their job. I was angry with my father, who had been my hero and role model for the first 40 years of my life. What has been going through his mind? I’m anxious because I wonder how many more of these calls I’m going to have to deal with before these accounts get written off. And nauseous because deep down, the debt collectors are right….my dad is a bad man.

My father has stolen from them. He has stolen from Citibank, and Discover, and American Express. He’s stolen from Verizon and Macy’s, and truthfully, he's stolen from my sisters and me. And because my sisters and I care about him, he’s safe and warm in a nice apartment, and we’re looking the other way while all the creditors take a huge screwing.

Please, Lord, don’t let this apple fall close to that tree.

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