Daily News December 15

Today is Tuesday, December 15, 2009.  It is the 349th day of the year with 16 to go.

Today’s History

In 1791, the Bill of Rights went into effect following ratification by Virignia.
In 1939, the movie Gone With the Wind premiered in Atlanta.

Today’s News

Dead by Debt
A Florida woman is suing her mortgage company for the wrongful death of her husband.  The woman claims they received so many harassing phone calls that the stress caused her husband to have a heart attack and die.  Bill collectors sometimes called their home up to ten times a day, and they also called their neighbours.  The family fell behind on their payments after the husband had a heart attack in 2002.  He was airlifted to a hospital after a second heart attack.  While he was on disability, the family missed three payments.  Shortly after the second heart attack the family received this phone call from the mortgage company: “Get your act together and make your payments on your mortgage and quit playing these games.  Why don’t you have that helicopter pick you up and bring that payment to the office?”  The man’s heart failed shortly thereafter and he died.  The company doesn’t particularly address the number of phone calls or the content of the phone calls, but they are insistent that his death doesn’t have anything to do with the calls.  The FTC regulates debt collection but there are not enough investigators to go around, only the worst incidents are investigated.  Here are other phone calls people have received:

“You’re a piece of shit.  That’s why you turned your phone off.  Mother fucker.  But that’s okay.”

“When I see you, I’m gonna fuck you up.  I want my money and I want it now.  I hate people who lie to me and abuse my company.  If you bring my money back, you don’t have to worry about me, just disregard my message.”

Whoa.  As a former debt collector, I know exactly what goes on.  I worked for a certain very large bank, collecting on late stage mortgage payments, people who were at least three or four months behind about to get foreclosed on.  Naturally, we went through classes on what we were allowed to say and what we couldn’t.  No, you can threaten bodily harm or use foul language, but we were trained to be heartless.  We were not supposed to care if there was death, dismemberment, plague, disease, or whatever, anything to get that money without crossing that very thin grey line.  We had a list of things we could say to help people raise money to get their mortgage payment in.  Calls are monitored, not for quality like they tell you on that little automated thing, but to make sure we are doing everything in our power to get money.  I called these people who were four months behind.  After the mother and daughter screamed at me on the phone calling me all kinds of whore and bitch, the daughter (who was about 14) told me why they couldn’t pay.  They were in a boating accident on their first family vacation ever.  The accident paralysed the father from the waist down, put the six year old son in an eternal coma, and drowned the other son.  After listening to some child cry on the phone and tell me that neither of her parents could work, that they didn’t have medical insurance and that she had to get food out their neighbours’ trash when they weren’t looking, I just politely said, “Make the payments when you can,” and hung up.  My supervisor called me in her office and said, “You should have told her that while she was out there digging in the trash, she could find some cans.  Collect enough cans and you’ll make that mortgage payment.”  I left work that night and never went back.

Know the rules:

They cannot call you before 8AM or after 9PM, unless you agree.  They also cannot call you at work after you tell them you’re not allowed to receive phone calls at work.  They can only make contact once a day.  Once they speak to you and establish you as the person they’re looking for, they can’t call back.  But if you don’t say your name or acknowledge the phone call, they can keep calling. 

Even if you owe the money, and you know it, you can tell the collector to stop contacting you.  You must do it in writing; however, they will not tell you anything anymore, such as if they are suing you or repossessing a certain item.

If you have an attorney, they can only call the attorney.  They can call your friends and family to find out where you are, but they are only allowed to call once.  Once they make contact, that’s it.

Kiss My Grits!
A Louisiana woman has been charged with second degree battery after she poured a pot of hot boiling grits on her boyfriend.  After arguing all evening, he told her that he was breaking up with her, then he went to bed.  While he slept, the woman went into the kitchen and put a pot of grits on.  She waited until they were good and hot before pouring it over his face and arms, causing second degree burns.

Uhm… sorry for your luck.

Ecstasy Aficionado
A man from Amsterdam has reported to police that his collection of Ecstasy pills had been stolen.  He had been collecting the pills of various colours and shapes for more than 20 years.  He stored them like coin collectors store their collectibles, and he said that he was fascinated by the colours and logos, but he is not a dealer or a user.  Approximately 2400 pills were stolen during a break-in.  The man said the only reason he reported the incident was that some of the pills were poisoned and if someone took the drugs they might be lethal.  The police said even if they do recover the collection, the man will not be getting it back, and they don’t know if they are going to charge him with a crime.

Uhm, yeah, who collects pills?  Well, I guess I shouldn’t ask that because people collect all kinds of weird things, but Ecstasy pills, and you’re not a user?  Yeah, I highly doubt that.  How did you know they were poisoned?

Food Fight
A Florida woman is being charged with assault after she slapped her boyfriend in the head with a piece of raw steak.  They were apparently fighting over a slice of bread.  He asked for a bread roll and she gave him a bread slice.  When he got upset and refused to eat the bread slice, the woman began to repeatedly beat him in the face with the piece of steak.  Apparently, the boyfriend is somehow disabled and the woman hit him “so he could learn.”

Sometimes when I read this stuff I don’t even believe it.  I do get my news from reputable sources like MSNBC or CNN, but still, some of this is too ridiculous to be believed.  A bread slice?  A bread roll?  Steak?  Seriously?  I mean, seriously.

Pilfered Pee
Authorities in Utah are looking for the culprits who broke into a health office and stole 17 samples of urine.  The urine, which was stored in little plastic cups, was part of a drug test for a substance abuse programme.  Nothing else but the piss was stolen.

Well, that’s one way of trying to beat a drug test.

Racism:  It’s What’s For Dinner
Italian residents in Verona are in an uproar after a nativity scene featuring a black Jesus and black Mary was unveiled.  The city is having serious issues with illegal immigrants coming from Africa and Eastern Europe, many of whom are dark skinned.  The nativity scene appeared at the same time as an anti-immigrant operation called “White Christmas” began.  The operation is meant to find illegal foreigners and kick them out of the city by Christmas day.  The man who created the nativity scene, an Italian, stated that he believes that Jesus and Mary were probably rather dark skinned.  Some people were mad that the nativity was black and some people were mad that there was even a nativity at all because they didn’t want to offend the Muslims living in the area.  The designer said the point was not to have a black Christmas or a white Christmas, but to have a merry Christmas. 

Oh, Lord, here we go with this nonsense.  I thought I was going to make it through 2009 without hearing anything about the black Jesus debate.  Sixteen days before 2010, and I just couldn’t make it.  Well, at least it’s in Italy and not in the US this time.  Christians argue all the time whether he was white or black, nappy-headed or blonde, and this is precisely the reason why depictions of religious icons are forbidden in Islam because there is no way we can have any idea what Jesus, Adam, Noah or any of them looked like.  Despite some description in the Holy Scriptures, there isn’t enough to go on, and without a digital 10.1 megapixel picture attached to the Dead Sea scrolls, we’ll never know, so our speculation is not relevant. 

Today’s Thought

Experience is a good teacher, but she sends in terrific bills.  ~Minna Antrim

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