Previously I alluded to some court/attorney issues, one of which was related to timing. Suffice it to say, I’ve been involved in negotiations regarding a settlement case for almost four years.
Four years of listening to my first attorney tell me that yes, he should really stay on top of things and contact opposing counsel once in a while; you know, just to make sure they actually are working on this issue. Nearly two years ago he told me to open an account to handle the settlement, and so I did, fully believing that we were very close to finishing.
Three more months of waiting, and I fired the lawyer.
The “other side” was having difficulties retaining counsel as well: the first one, who by rights should have been a defendant in some case, somewhere, became ill and retired. The second one was filling in during the absence of the first, then he passed the case along to a third attorney. This one lasted, oh, maybe six months. The fourth, who is not quite sure whom he represents, has been on board for almost a year; it seems as though he has too many family obligations, however, to capably perform his job. Or he has too much imagination, as he provides a constant stream of implausible excuses.
For the past three years, I have been told that the “other side” wants to settle, and that they have agreed to our proposal or that we’ve agreed to theirs. Last August, we agreed to their offer; in October, they requested a meeting to discuss that same offer (that we’d already agreed to), then promised to have the papers drawn up for signing. By December, they went back on their word and negated their promises; they had a new offer in mind. At the end of 2008, they stated that, after all, they preferred the original agreement.
At this point we’d wasted five months with their dithering. On January 8, I received a communication stating that the papers were ready and they were going to review them, and send them over. I expected to receive them by at least January 14.
Now, pay attention: here’s where the “collections and collectors” actually becomes part of the story.
I have a lot bills, and debts; much like a large part of the country, I struggle every month to pay whatever possible. I owe money; I admit it. I am not sitting on piles of hundred-dollar bills, saying “nanner, nanner” to my creditors. We had a plan, a good one; the plan was to pay down debt, as per this settlement, improve our credit, hang tight for a bit, and buy a house. This would take time, but we had a year’s lease and were in no particular hurry.
So, when a collector contacted me the first week of January and offered me a much-discounted amount to pay off a credit card bill, I was interested. Surely, I thought, after all this time, things will be settled as they tell me. More fool, I.
I decided to accept his offer, and gave him all the information for the payment to be made on January 25. Three weeks seemed like plenty of time. That time came and went, and still…nothing. I moved the date to today, January 31. Still nothing.
I’ve had to break my word, twice, to this agency, because a certain group of attorneys cannot demonstrate honor and integrity. Yet, the law is considered one of the highest callings, one for which individuals must prepare and be thoroughly vetted; members of the bar are supposed to be smart, and organized, and truthful, and…the list could go on and on about the “qualities” a lawyer must possess. These apparently do not.
Perhaps I am a fool. I do believe in the general “goodness” of man, especially professionals; perhaps that’s wrong. Am I wrong for believing in honor and integrity? Am I wrong for believing that right will triumph?
I’m almost certainly wrong for agreeing to pay this debt, at this time. But I don’t think I’ve lacked patience and I do know my plan was a good one. Unfortunately, it depended a great deal on the word of those who should be honorable, but are not. Lesson learned. Don’t count on anyone.
And don’t expect those who are wrong to admit their shortcomings, or to pay for them; not even family. But that can wait till tomorrow’s post.