Thursday, June 09, 2011

A Blind Octopus

Seems like only yesterday I was reporting on being pestered by creditors who obviously have lost track of one of their debtors—specifically, a Wendy J. Reynolds, who, as I have to keep telling people
    a. Does not live at this address
    b. Never has lived at this address¹
    c. Is in no way related to or known by me
    d. So quit calling me and sending me mail in regard to this person

In fact, I see that it’s been nearly three months (“Guesswork,” posted March 12, 2011), which I suppose is about all I can expect in that various collection agencies are flailing about like blind octopi trying to find their deadbeat. As indicated in “Guesswork,” I assume they decided to start picking on me because I have the same initials as their debtor, which, after all, is pretty conclusive.

Today’s mail brought the latest blind-octopus attempt, this time from an outfit calling itself Asset Acceptance, LLC, of Warren, Michigan. (A company that a lot of people seem to be unhappy with, as a quick Google search reveals, but I suppose that’s neither here nor there.

The infamous Wendy seems to owe Xcel Energy around $300. (In fact, the letter refers to “Xcel Energy dba Northern States Power Company Minnesota,” which intrigues me, for the very simple reason that I don’t live in Minnesota. Is it possible that these creditors and their minions not only have lost Wendy but are in fact looking for her in the wrong state? Well, sure it is. Given the obvious fact that these collections outfits are plainly guessing their way along, and sharing erroneous information about their debtors’ whereabouts as they do so, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to discover that the elusive Wendy not only has never lived at my address but has never even lived in my Area Code.) Actually, Asset Acceptance, LLC, is making Wendy a pretty sweet offer, willing to settle for half what they say she owes, less one cent.

Makes me feel kind of like a chump for paying my bills in full all the time.

Anyhow, the letter included a toll-free number and the extension’0’of a “Christi Wright, Debt Collector” (points for honesty: a couple of years ago I received a letter for Wendy from an outfit that claimed to be able to put her in touch with money that she was owed, which I thought was a halfway clever approach), so I dialed.

First thing: The welcoming recording tells me that if I know my party’s four-digit extension, I should enter that now followed by the pound key. Although I am virtually certain that 0 is only one digit, I enter it anyway, and the pound key. And am told by the recording that if I know my party’s four-digit extension number, I should enter that now followed by the pound key.

Yeah. Good. I’ll just wait.

By and by a nice bloke comes on the line and asks how he can help me. And I tell him I’ve received this letter (latest in the series. Collect them all) for a Wendy J. Reynolds, who
    a. Does not live at this address
    b. Never has lived at this address
    c. Is in no way related to or known by me
    d. So quit sending me mail in regard to this person

And he says, “Let me look that up,” and then tells me that they sent it to such-and-such address, which I already knew ’cause it’s my address, and kind of the point of the exercise here is to inform them that my address is, you know, wrong, and they should remove it from their database.

Which he promises they will.

And you know what? I believe him. Just as I believed the guy back in March who left a note on my door because he wanted to serve papers on the mysterious Wendy, and just as I believed the woman a couple of years ago who really really wanted to help Wendy retrieve all this money that was owed her.

I believe each of them was sincere in telling me that they’d take my address or phone number off their list. And I believe it won’t do a damn bit of good, because The System now has it in its far-flung listing that Wendy J. Reynolds is associated with my address and phone number, and good luck ever getting that expunged completely. At some future point, some other outfit will go looking for her, and my address will pop up, like the villain at the end of a James Bond movie.

So we’ll see how long before the sequel comes around.

In the meantime, I leave you with this thought: As previously indicated, it’s been plain to me for some time that these creditors and collection agencies, having lost their quarry, are just guessing as to her whereabouts. That might make some sense if, say, she had run up credit-card debt and then skipped town. But you will recall that this latest letter is on behalf of Xcel Energy, which is a provider of electricity. Electricity, in my experience, is something that must be delivered to a particular location. You don’t go to the mall and buy a bunch of electricity and then skip out on the bill.

By necessity, the electric company must know where you live.

And, in this instance, for that woman, it ain’t here.

Which means that these guys are guessing even more blindly than I had previously thought!

¹We bought our current house, some 16 years ago, from friends who had lived here as tenants and eventually owners for nearly 40 years previous to that. So I can state with authority that no Wendy Reynolds has lived here in the past 50-plus years or so, which in my book is as close to “never” as it needs to be.

Monday, June 06, 2011


For reasons as yet still mysterious, my office computer, a clunky Windows POS of indeterminate age, refuses to go online today. (I tend to blame my coworkers who, when I wasn’t here on Friday, decided to move “my” PC to another location. If they’re going to do that, I wish they’d forget to bring it back. But that’s another story for another day.)

As it happens, I am converting the weekend’s DVDs to MP4s, also on another PC (one that handles the chore in a less glacial fashion than the ancient, steam-powered model in my office), and from that PC I was able to make the web updates. But the rest of it simply lies idle for the nonce.

It is astounding how much work a person can’t get done when he can’t go online! I had intended to make some website changes...nope. E-mail? Hah. I can’t even work on publications, since the files are on the network shared drive, and the drive is inaccessible on my PC. Such is the nature of my work that I literally have no other task with which to occupy myself until the tech guy shows up. And so I find myself at the “other” PC, watching Handbrake do its thing in one window and Vimeo Uploader do its thing in the other. Forced idleness is a terrible thing.

Update: Turns out I was right to blame my coworkers.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

The Best Google Doodles Ever!

Today’s Google Doodles commemorate the birthday of the great Richard Scarry (1919-1994). The kids and I had a lot of fun with his wonderful books back in the day.

Here’s the main Doodle:

And here's a “mini-Doodle” featuring Lowly Worm:

These are certainly The Best Google Doodles Ever!