Who I Read
September 24, 2002
What's going on around here
Last Wednesday was Marie's 14th birthday. It's hard to believe I've known her since kindergarten (we were hooting over her baby pictures just last night). She certainly has grown to be quite a poised young woman. She has her moments, to be sure, as any teenager does. But Calvin and I have really been blessed with a kiddo that's responsible, intelligent (she's making straight A's! She gets that from me. Heh.), and wickedly humorous.
We went to Bahama Breeze for dinner, and met her friend and her friend's family there as well. Her friend's birthday is either the day before Marie's, or the day after, I forget. So it was something of a joint birthday party, but thankfully with no clapping, chanting waiters. Then after dinner it was back home to open presents, and to consume the cheesecake purchased from The Cheesecake Factory earlier in the afternoon.
When we were in San Francisco during our honeymoon/vacation, we stopped in at the San Francisco Music Box Company on Pier 39, down on Fisherman's Wharf. Marie lingered for a loooong time over a figurine of a Marine, which when wound up plays the Marine Anthem. She got teary-eyed, thinking of Michael.
Calvin and I took note. The very day after we got home, we got on line and ordered the figurine, and saved it for her birthday. She had absolutely no idea. We'd warned her that we got her "nothing that she asked for" (which was colored contacts and any DVD featuring Vin Diesel). So when she opened the box she was completely floored. It was cool.
The new computer speakers were received with enthusiasm, too. Calvin dutifully installed them, and now she has as much bass hooked up to her computer as any kid could want. After playing her MP3's at the top of the computer's puny little speaker capacity for years, the change was welcome. Well, for her. We forgot (and how could we???) that the bass travels quite easily through her bedroom floor to the living room/dining room/kitchen beneath. Ah, well. At least she has good taste in music (mostly).
A $50 gift certificate to the mall completed her gifts. She practically lives there, so that present was a no-brainer.
We've been having one hell of a time lately with a certain "check guarantee company".
Some history: Back in the end of July, Michael called us asking if we'd co-sign on a car loan for him. After a bit of a hassle (he, the car, and the loan folks were in California, we're in AZ), we got the details of the loan straightened around and the paperwork signed. Michael gave them two checks for the down payment, and drove away in his Honda Civic.
Several weeks later, the car company called, trying to get ahold of Michael. Since he had moved on to his post in North Carolina, and we didn't have his contact information yet, we asked if we could be of help. Seems that one of the checks Michael gave them as his down payment bounced. The auto company didn't seem to think it was a big deal - they re-submitted the check a couple of times before trying us. So the next time Michael called us (we still didn't have contact information for him), we let him know what was up. It was decided that we'd pay the amount of the bounced check, as a belated boot camp graduation gift to him (we'd actually been waiting for him to get settled so we could get him a computer, but whatever). We tried contacting the rep at the auto company quite a few times, leaving messages, but never heard from them again. We assumed that they re-tried the check and it went through. We went on with our merry lives.
Fast forward several weeks later. We receive a call from a VERY rude individual, asking for Michael. It was the same person who'd left us a curt voicemail earlier in the day. Calvin responded that he doesn't live at home anymore, he's in the Marines. The man asked for contact information, and Calvin responded that we didn't have it yet. Calvin asked what the issue was regarding, and the man asked "Who is this?" Calvin said, "Michael's father". The man said, "This is regarding the loan your son has with Auto Company." Calvin responds with, "Well, I'm the co-signer on that loan. What's the problem?"
Here the man gets even more rude. "You need to send me five hundred dollars right now." Calvin, of course, questioned him why. The man only responded with, "Do you have a Basha's near you? You need to send the money Western Union." Calvin asked him what company he was representing, but the man kept talking. "We can resolve this issue right now without any legal action, but you have to wire me the money. No other means is acceptable."
"Five. Hundred. Dollars. For. What??" Calvin (frustrated) questions. Again.
"Sir. Just write down the information and we can take care of this once and for all."
"Look," Calvin replies. "Who are you and who do you work for? For all I know, you could have picked Auto Company's trash and you're trying to scam me out of five hundred dollars."
After more grousing on the rep's part, Calvin finally learns that this guy is trying to collect the funds of the bounced check for the auto company. "So you're a collection agency?" Calvin asks.
"Sir (Nasty Collection Guy translation: "Asshole"), we are NOT a collection agency."
"Then what kind of company do you work for?"
"We are a check guarantee company."
"So, you collect funds for bounced checks?"
"Then you're a collection agency."
"SIR (NCG translation - "Bigger Asshole"), we are NOT a COLLECTION AGENCY."
So. It went on like that for a while. Calvin repeatedly asked the Nasty Collection Guy what his company name was, and the guy kept avoiding it. Now, Calvin don't take no shit from nobody. He said, "If you don't tell me who you work for, you can take that five hundred dollars and shove it up your ass." To which the guy said, "Oh, there will be no ass shoving here, sir." He vituperated some more abuse, then HUNG UP on Calvin.
We still didn't have his name or the name of his company. Calvin tried calling back using the number NCG left on our voicemail, asking for the representative of our account (we still didn't have his name, just an account number). The lady who answered the phone said he was unable to take calls. Yeah, three seconds after hanging up with us.
So I took the phone and called. He picked up this time - I knew it was him, even though I'd never spoken to him before. Contempt just *oozed* out of his voice.
"I'm sorry, to whom am I speaking?" I asked.
"Who are you calling for?" he growled.
"To whom am I speaking?" I repeated.
"(insert nasty collection guy's name here)."
"What company have I reached?" I asked.
"(insert Collection-Agency-That-Isn't-A-Collection-Agency name here)," he replied.
"Oh, I must have the wrong number," I said.
"Sure, (NCG mental insertion: "bitch"), if that's the way you want to play it," he remarked, and hung up on me.
Caller I.D. Heh. Come on over here and call me a bitch in your mind to my face, Skippy. I'll scratch your eyes out.
Calvin tried again to contact the auto company, but no one was returning his calls. During the next 24 hours the Nasty Collection Guy (and I ought to post his real name here, really) somehow tracked Michael down and threatened to take the issue to his superior officers. He threatened court marital, for heaven's sake! Like he has that jurisdiction. Anyway, Michael was a little panicky. Apparently this guy dished out the same abuse to him as he did to Calvin, and wouldn't even let Michael make any arrangements to take care of the debt. The guy accused Michael of fraudulent activity, as if Michael knew he didn't have the money and wrote a bad check on purpose.
Now. I adore Michael, I really do. But taking care of life's details is not one of his strong points. Therefore, balancing his checkbook is an alien concept to him, and remains that way, no matter how many times I re-explain it to him. So he really did think he had the money, he just... well, didn't.
Nasty (Evil!) Collection Guy calls us back again. I wish I could explain to you the rudeness just oozing out of him. It's in his tone of voice and whole attitude. I mean, you can tell just by him saying, "May I speak to Calvin, please?" "Please" could very easily be replaced with "Bitch".
Calvin got on the phone. Some more abuse ensued. Calvin asked for the man's manager. Apparently the guy refused. Calvin insisted. N(E!)CG actually held down a number key on his phone for a good five seconds. Calvin said, "I don't believe this," and hung up on the guy (for once).
We looked up the company on the internet (ah, handy little internet!) and got the number of their corporate office. Calvin left a message explaining the situation, emphasizing that we want to take care of the debt but for some inexplicable reason can't work with N(E!)CG. Calvin insisted on speaking to the man's supervisor, or a manager. He left our contact information, and hung up.
We got a call the next day from a very nice lady, who in turn put us in touch with N(E!)CG's manager, a very nice man. We haven't had to deal with N(E!)CG since. They said they'd "take care of him".
Un. Fricking. Believable. I hope they fire his ass. I mean, I know that collection agents have a hard time of it. Nobody wants to deal with them, and they are usually regarded as "the enemy". But I understand that it's their job to do some unpleasant tasks. I fully believe that if they're not being treated in a rude manner by the people they're trying to collect from, then they shouldn't offer rude treatment. This guy just started out bad from the very beginning, and got nastier with every passing minute.
Sherry had her baby! Go look at the photos.
Gratuitous kitten photo! Aww.