i don't know who janet is. i don't know anything about her.
well actually that's not true. i do know two things about
1) she had the phone # that i now use for my firm and
2) she has a debt collection agency calling her.
just recently i got a work line. a nice new blackberry goes
along with it so that i can now be one of those drones who
stares down at his blackberry constantly, obsessively
checking his messages. so far i have not had any calls on
it save for those coming from a certain debt collection
the first two times the line was silent, no response.
pissed me off. the third time there was an answer. all
three times the calls came around dinner time.
"may i speak to janet?"
"this is xyz (obviously not their name) debt collection
agency and it is imperative we reach her to discuss
two things struck me right off the bat. this guy used the
word "imperative" which made me feel he was one of those
guys who thinks himself smart by using words that are way
too sophisticated for what he's trying to express.
secondly, he fucking enjoyed this job. he enjoyed his job
as a debt collector, and he was looking forward to harassing
now as i said i have no idea who janet is. she could be the
biggest bitch in the world, running up credit card debt
buying fancy stuff and thinking she needn't pay. or maybe,
she was like one of the poor souls that i saw in my
a broken, sad person, whose stomach churned whenever she saw
this number on her caller id. a mother of three, who gets
these calls as she serves her children kraft mac and cheese
with ketchup for the third straight night in a row.
maybe she is one of those people i felt so much empathy for,
those that people don't want to acknowledge exist because
they make black lines into shady gray areas. those who are
caught in a bad spot, with little way out.
those who are vulnerable and fearful and whose lives are
made into living hells by these motherfuckers who derive a
sadistic pleasure out of harassing those that they know
can't put up a fight.
or then again maybe she's just a free-spending bitch.
people give me a double-reaction when i tell them i'm a
lawyer. it is a mixture of "ehhh" and almost a physical
backup as if i had told them that i had a treatment-
resistant strain of syphillis. i'm going to get that a lot.
they ease this feeling by immediately telling me lawyer
jokes. fine and good.
i understand how people view lawyers, i am totally fine with
that. however, i view my profession as totally different.
i view myself as someone who can help people. who wants to
so as i had this guy on the phone who was pissing me off
anythow for constantly calling me and now seemingly enjoying
what would probably be a one-sided fuck-fest i couldn't
resist finally using my power as an attorney for the first
"look, i don't know who janet is, but you've been calling a
law firm for the past two days."
immediate silence on the other line, then a stammer,
"no-no, this is um...[and he recited my new #]"
"and janet is at this #?"
"NO, this is the law firm of [enter my law firm name]."
"oh, well i'm certain this was...um, the correct number."
"maybe she changed it." i offered helpfully.
"yes, but...we were not apprised of this change."
there he goes again with big words were simple ones would
"well let me assure you that she is no longer at this number
and if you continue to tie up our phone lines with your
incessant calling we're going to be forced to take action of
you for abuse under the federal communications act."
now i have no idea if the federal communications act exists
and if it does if it would present a cause of action, but
that doesn't matter. what matters is that this dude on the
other line had ABSOLUTELY no idea if what i was saying was
the truth, but he didn't like the sound of it.
"what's your name?"
there was another long pause
"jay...do you have a last name? because jay isn't very
"look, i can have you speak to our manager on call right
now, this is simply a problem of our having an out-dated
"this could have been resolved the first two times you
some more silence.
"yes, well we're sorry about that, it is not our intention
to pursue anyone but our client."
client? now we're in the plural pronouns? we? christ.
so now i was at an impasse with him. he not so sure he
could just hang up on me and me not so sure what to do with
him anymore. i wanted to lace into him. i couldn't help
but view janet as one of my clients at the bankruptcy
clinic. but what could i do? so i ended the phone call
"i'd like to think that my firm will never have you tie up
our phone lines again. is that something i can count on?"
"yes, i just updated our database, we're sorry for the
what a motherfucker. hopefully, maybe, just maybe, he got a
bit of the stomach churn he inflicts on thsoe he calls.
maybe he'll have a bit of a drawn-back disposition to the
next person he calls.
i can't help it, i love that i can now use my position to
fight back against those who are true assholes in this
society. probably i didn't do shit, but i'd like to think
that i instilled a bit of empathy in dear ole jay.
you're welcome janet, whoever and wherever you are.