Public Record

Well, I know it’s hard to believe, but I just became an even more desirable person: Discover Card sued me. The judgment is now public record. Awesome.

I figured that since it’s now public record for the enjoyment of all who google me, I should publicly disclose what happened.

You see, when I fell down, I was a normal person in society who had a small amount of credit card debt. When I fell down, I thought I had a severe, but simple injury. I thought I would heal in a matter of weeks. The weeks dragged into months: doctors, tests, insurance complications, physical therapy, more doctors, more tests. Still, I thought I was on a linear  road to recovery.

Financially, I was OK. I had a bit of a nest egg. I cut back on expenses, still paid my bills on time, and for the most part functioned as if I would imminently return to my regularly scheduled life.

I was naive and overly hopeful. And then, reality hit.

Two years ago, the onslaught of information was too much for me to navigate. I was suddenly simultaneously thrown into several horrendously foreign situations: injury, illness, lawsuits, debt, joblessness, medication.

I tried to understand the complexities of CRPS and that its diagnosis would permanently change my life. I tried to understand the complexities of the various lawsuits in which I am involved, but not at liberty to discuss at this time. I tried to figure out how to keep paying my bills once my nest egg had been cracked and drained. I tried to grasp the concept that I wouldn’t be able to just go get a job to solve my financial problems. The harsh medication that I had to introduce to my body made trying to understand anything complex a fruitless endeavor.

Even in my bleak financial situation, I tried to stay responsible. I made phone calls. I was upfront and honest. Bank of America: worked with me, Citibank: worked with me, Discover Card: refused to work with me.  Discover felt that rather than negotiate, it would be more prudent to threaten legal ramifications and then follow through on those threats.

Their slogan is “we treat you the way you’d treat you.” However, the last time I checked, I wouldn’t sue myself when I am at the very lowest point of my life for thousands of dollars more than I borrowed, having no way of possibly paying.

After a year and a half of threats, I knew it was coming. My dad drove me to the court. My cane and I hobbled in to the courtroom. I showed my humiliated, tear-stained face to the judge. The attorney representing Discover Card phoned in.

The judge said words that he has obviously said many times before. It was all so routine, rehearsed, and yet the proceedings were completely foreign to me. It felt like a dream, a very bad dream, not helped by the fact I was medicated and foggy. I had to be, in order to handle the physical strain of appearing in court.

The judge asked me to speak. I told my story, how it came to this. I kept my composure, despite tears welling in my eyes. My brain in the background was screaming “how is this my life!?”

The outcome was no surprise. Judgment for the plaintiff.

The call ended. Merry Christmas, Discover Card.

The judge asked me more about myself and translated what happened. I am legally obligated to pay, but unless I can pay, I can’t “be thrown in jail.” (Jesus!) I will have to provide documentation proving that I can’t pay at some undisclosed point in time. If I don’t respond in another undisclosed amount of time, I can be “thrown in jail” for contempt.

The judge then took the time to express interest in me and my case. He told me that I was not the “typical” defendant in these types of cases. He allowed me to speak freely. He asked about CRPS. He asked about my other lawsuits. He showed sympathy and wished me luck.

My cane and I hobbled out of the courtroom. As my dad drove me home, I couldn’t help but reflect.

If I had known that this was going to be a permanent situation, I would have used my nest egg to pay off my debts in June, 2014. I would have left New York City much sooner. I would have had money left over. I would have made the conscious decision, instead of watching everything I worked hard to build slowly evaporate.

The rear view mirror is more clear than the windshield, especially during a hurricane of personal disaster. It’s hard to think clearly. It’s hard to let go. It’s hard to give up hope of a stable, controlled, happy life. It’s hard to face the reality that everything has changed forever. It’s hard to know the point when nothing is recoverable.

So there it is. My all-time low just got lower. At least the judge was kind to me.