flashback friday – 7 may 2009



Bill the Cat - by Berkeley Breathed
Thbbft, indeed!

In early December of last year, several people in the small town we live in had some problems with their water lines. In the midst of fixing these problems, they (the town bigwigs) decided to update the aging pipelines while they were at it. I left for work one day with the street in front of and to the east of us surrounded by equipment and guys in hard hats working away at replacing said pipe. Later that same day, when I returned home, there was a small pyramid of pipe placed near the edge of the road on the eastern-most side of our property. It wasn’t bothering us any, so we never said anything. After all, it was on top of snow and the job was going to be done soon.

Zoom ahead to mid-February. I made my weekly jaunt to pick up the mail and was mildly concerned when I found a notice of a “certified letter” in the stack. I don’t know about you, but whenever I’ve received mail I’ve had to sign for, it is NEVER the long-awaited Publisher’s Clearinghouse notice that I’ve won a million dollars, or notice of some long-lost relative who’s left all their earthly belongings to me. No, in MY household, certified letter always means one thing: T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

I mentally racked my brain to think of all our bills – had I forgotten to pay one for months on end? Don’t think so… The last few years have been banner ones for racking up family medical bills, but I’d been paying on all of those, so I knew it couldn’t be that. Hmmm…. Well, I guess I’d better just see what it is.

 I ran into the main post office area and signed for the thing, pretty certain it couldn’t be anything bad: NOTICE OF MECHANIC’S LIEN read the fancy lettering at the top. What’s that? I’ve got my own mechanic, thank you very much. I even sleep with him, so I don’t think he’d be suing me! I read further. “Blah, blah, blah… owed by S@*#Head and Sons, Inc., Blah, blah, blah… Lien placed against homeowners at (insert our names and address) owe $8000 plus “reasonable” attorneys fees, blah, blah, blah…
Right about there my heart stopped beating for a long moment, then my blood pressure shot through the roof. You have got to be kidding me!!!! After I’d calmed myself down, I called the “information” number listed at the bottom. Obviously there had to be some mistake as we hadn’t had ANY work done on the house for many years, and we’d paid fully for everything ever done. The charming “lady” I spoke with on the phone had all the personality of Attila the Hun – she obviously relished her job of sticking it to innocent people and wouldn’t even pretend to care about the situation. She explained to me that the lien was placed against us because that was the “physical address” where the pipeline for the city’s project was delivered. It didn’t matter that WE didn’t order the pipeline, or even that it didn’t get buried in our yard, or even our side of the street. “That’s where we delivered it, so basically tough #$*( for you. Have a nice life.”
So, long story long (as is always the case with me!), we’ve spent the last several MONTHS of our life trying to get this seemingly obvious mistake cleared off of our names. Who’da thunk it would be so hard? After numerous phone calls back and forth between us and the mayor, the mayor and the company, the mayor and the recorder’s office, and Tom and the company AGAIN because they still hadn’t removed it like they said they would, and Tom and our lawyer, it has finally been taken care of.A good friend of mine at work gave me a sign for my bulletin board a while back that simply reads “Because nice matters.” I’ve tried to use it as a reminder to myself of who and what I really am (really, just ask me!), even if I occasionally have to deal with “not-so-nice” people. However, after this experience, I think I’ve learned a new lesson: the next time anyone so much as places a piece of paper on my property, I’m going to call the police and have them arrested for trespassing. But I’ll at least do it with a smile…

Now we just wait to see if it’s hit our credit rating, otherwise we’re off to battle again. Ackkk!

This week’s flashback was such a crazy but stressful time in our life. Luckily it never did hit our credit report, so the battle was truly over. However, it has been a good lesson to me as to the worth of good customer service and the need for a little empathy and kindness in the world. Not nice of me to say, but I have often hoped that karma really does exist and that it pays a visit to that lady.  As the bumper sticker says: Mean People Suck!

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