Brigid Daull Brockway is technically a writer

Brigid Daull Brockway is technically a writer

A blog about words, wordplay, and etymology, with slightly more than occasional political rants.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

This is an attempt to collect a debt

We've had our home number for going on five years now, and we're still getting collections calls from all over town for some Jean Hagle lady (or some Gene Haydle guy). They're pretty friendly, as far as collections people go. They don't believe that I'm not Jean Hagle (or Gene Haydle), of course, but they wouldn't be very good bill collectors otherwise.
It's kind of interesting, actually, to see the process from the outside. I mean, it's a lot less intimidating when I'm telling them I don't owe them any money and I'm actually telling the truth. One thing I've noticed about bill collectors is that they're never Gary or Tina. They're always Miss Robinson or Mister Nash. Rather a graceful trick, really. From the first word you're a petulant child. 

It's hard for me not to see bill collectors as monsters. I mean there are logical arguments, pro and con, but it's hard for anybody who's been there to get past the visceral. The constant calls, the snarling sarcasm, the way they act like you're not working three jobs just to pay the bills and you're not even sure you do owe them money? It's hard to imagine somebody like that going home to their husband and kids and eating casserole and playing Monopoly, but they probably do. And they probably find it hard to believe you're working three jobs just to pay the bills and aren't sure you owe them money.

Bill collectors were probably the single worst thing about being poor. 

As for Miss Robinson, Jean (Gene), and me, it'll be straightened out by tomorrow. And here are some tips for dealing with the green meanies (I friggin love

And here are some more forms of address, for when you're dealing with sources more powerful than Miss Robinson, courtesy of the "Oxford Essential Writer's Reference."
  • American Ambassador: The Honorable Miss Robinson
  • Lawyer: Mr. Mister Nash, Attorney at Law 
  • House Speaker: The Honorable Speaker of the House of Representatives (that's a tough one to remember)
  • Rabbi with Doctorate: Rabbi Miss Robinson, DD
  • Associate Justice of the Supreme Court: Mr. Justice Mister Nash
  • Catholic Bishop: The Most Reverend Miss Robinson
  • Pope: His Holiness Pope Mister Nash III
  • When in doubt, go with The Honorable, or Your Excellency if you're feeling fancy.


Lisa said...

We're on our third year of fielding calls for "Alan Murrey" and "Mary West". How are you straightening things out? I'd love to know! I've thought about changing our number, but am afraid I'd have to start at square one with calls for whomever had THAT number last.

Brigid Daull Brockway said...

Luckily, mine don't seem to be credit card people, they're vicious. These all seem to be local - Bally's, for instance.
Initiate the conversation, and be brave, they can smell fear. Let them know how long you've had the number, ask what you need to do to prove that you are not who they think you are, and politely request that they cease and desist contact. Log every encounter, date, time, and agency, then send a cease and desist letter via certified mail; include the list of dates and times that they called so that they know you're keeping score. If they continue to harass you, they're in violation of the law.