Friday, August 26, 2016

Debtor Hall Of Shame

As I may have mentioned on my blog(s) I work part-time as a debt collector at a small law firm. I started out as a file clerk which made me a lot less money - and a lot less stressed out. Most of my day was spent collecting all the papers in the "file pile" and placing them in pockets. There are over 3,000 pocket file folders in our office and I became familiar with many of the names. If a person's name randomly pops into my head and I can't recall where I know them from, chances are they're a debtor. 

Now if you're a sports fanatic like me, you probably know the names of at least a thousand current and former athletes. So if you hear a common name like "Joe Smith" you might immediately think of this Joe Smith or that Joe Smith. But chances are the Joe Smith in question is ordinary Joe. As such, I never stopped to think that any of our debtors might be former athletes until I saw printed proof - a Wikipedia page of a former NBA lottery pick.  

I have to admit I was a lot more intrigued about this case than any of the 3,000 others. It made sense that this particular player would owe money to one of our clients, since he briefly played in New Jersey and was/is a journeyman player who couldn't cut it in the NBA (last I heard he was playing in China - waaaay out of our jurisdiction.)

But a few months later I came across another file folder that caught my curiosity. This was one of our oldest files (it was in the basement) and I hadn't seen any paperwork on it so I had to actually open the file and snoop around to see if it was the former NBA player I was thinking of. Sure enough, it was this guy. Unlike Mr. Williams, Mr. Long never played for the New Jersey Nets - but he was a color commentator for a different NBA team, so maybe he racked up some debts while working for the visitors. 

I guess they wanted to be like Mike

The third athlete on this list is not a former basketball player, and does not have a common surname. When I saw his file in our cabinet I was all but certain that it belonged to a former All-Star catcher for the Dodgers and Mets (no, it's not Mike Piazza.) Not only was this guy a deadbeat debtor, he was also listed on the Mitchell Report for alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs. Just an all-around swell guy.

As with Mr. Long's file, I pulled out all the paperwork I could before someone caught me snooping (no one did), and while I don't recall who he owed or how much, I did learn that he was also an announcer - but for horse racing. Ya think he could have racked up some gambling debts at the track?

I should tell you that I haven't seen an update on any of these debtor files since I started working in collections. It's possible that their debts have been paid, settled, or otherwise closed (I think that's the case for Mr. LoDuca.)

Still, it has inspired a little subset in my collection - my own little "Debtor Hall of Shame"

My boss once asked me - quite randomly - how I would rate my knowledge of the Eagles. I legit could not tell if he meant the rock group or the football team, but he mentioned something about a lineman or linebacker who had a debt with our client. I looked up the name but found nothing. Perhaps he paid it off before we were able to open a file on him.

I'll keep an eye out for any other former athletes who owe us money. If I catch one, I'll add it to the debt collection. (Get it? Debt collection. Haha...I'll show myself out.)

Update: It appears we have a fourth former pro athlete who has owed us money for quite some time (at least five years). I noticed this file sticking out of the 'pulled files' box, which means that one of the attorneys worked on it recently. I'm a bit surprised that there are still old files I have not seen before, but that was the case with this one - until now.

Mr. Becht, welcome to the the Debtor Hall of Shame! 

Another update: I've stumbled across an even older debt; apparently our firm has been  chasing this former running back for at least fifteen years.

Run, Leroy, run. There's got to be a statute of limitations on these things, am I right? My bosses haven't asked me to investigate his case, I just had to do some data entry. But it's still active as far as I know.

I've been at this firm for five years and I've found five former athletes who owe(d) us money. Let's see if there's a sixth somewhere...

Edit: there is. This dude's file came across my desk in the fall, giving us a six-pack of sports stars:


That's a nice number to end with, considering I was at the firm for almost six years. 


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