Oct 21, 2009

Update

I know it's been a long time since I've posted anything here. It's mostly been a matter of nothing new to report.

Still haven't found a new job, although I've found work at the comedy club as their new doorman.

I've become more and more adept at living on a shoestring budget.

I'm working on my plan B, as I've got less than two months left on my unemployment and I'm running out of places to drop off resum├ęs. I've been thinking about going back to school, and I'm trying to find a course of study that won't bore me to tears yet will actually prove to be a practical choice. I was lucky to have twelve years in graphic design before it proved to be a bit of a dead end.

I've made the decision to put off the next Personality of Cult show for a while until I get my life back on track. MixTape Art Show is still on track to open in December, but I'm scrambling to get more artists involved. Turnout is proving a bit light.

I'm still doing stand-up, and I'm keeping the joke blog updated every day. I'm considering trying to get it published as a book once I get the initial year's worth of jokes written.

Other than that... Not much to report.

Aug 19, 2009

What gets into some people?

Watch this clip:



Not a viewpoint I agree with, but compared to some people at these town hall meetings, she seems fairly civil about her dissent... Until she appears again in this clip:



Holy. Living. Fuck.

Someone explain to me why a woman wearing an Israeli Defense Forces t-shirt is yelling "Heil Hitler!" at a Israeli man who's talking about health care? Now, I'm not the most fashion savvy person on the planet, but isn't that more than a little faux pas? What's she gonna do for an encore, put on blackface and confront Chuck D?

Jul 16, 2009

You'd think given my career choices, I'd be used to backstabbers by now.

First and foremost, let me tell you guys to NOT call me about this. I won't be able to get a new phone until tomorrow. Just know that I'm fine, and my jaw and my back is a little sore, but it's nothing a little Advil and Neosporin can't handle. My mood, on the other hand is to be expected after being stabbed.

Yes, I fucking said STABBED.

I was on my way down Memorial after open mic night at the Loony Bin. I was coming up on the Steak and Shake when I saw a group of teenagers running across the street. I blew my horn at them, as a few of them were getting ready to dart in front of my car. As I passed, one of them threw their drink at me.

THUD! SCREECH! I slammed my brakes and got out of my car. I yelled at them, demanding to know who threw their shit at my car. All but three of them ran off. The ones that stayed behind came up to me, ready for a fight.

The first one said something along the lines of "C'mon motherfucker!" (or something just as eloquent). A second moved to my right side. The first guy kicked me in the leg with about as much force as a stiff breeze. Seriously, this kick couldn't have broken balsa wood.

I turned my head to look at the second guy trying to flank me. As I turned my head, he clocked me on the left side of my jaw. I think he was aiming for my nose, but missed. Didn't really ring my bell so much as it just knocked me off balance. But it was enough to let me know they meant business.

That's when the third guy pulled something out of his pocket. I believe my response was "Is that a fucking screwdriver? Seriously?" Let it be known that I am a pacifist, but I've also got a pretty big fucking mouth because this guy started to charge at me with it. So, I naturally ran back to my car. Sure, what this thug lacked in subtlety, he sure as hell made up for it in his purchase at Home Depot.

On the way back to my car, in hindsight, I dropped my phone. Oh, and I also felt a blow to the middle of my back. I thought one of the little fuckers had punched me, but after driving off, the second car to flag me down pointed out other wise.

The first car told me that they saw the whole thing, and that they'd testify if needed. I felt fine, just pumping adrenalin and I told them that it wouldn't be necessary. The second car said the same thing, but added the phrase, "No, dude. That guy fucking stabbed you!"

Signaling them over to the Walgreen's parking lot, I asked them to look at my back. Tiny hole, no bleeding. The cops arrived, took my statement. The paramedics arrived, checked me out, and told me it wasn't bad. Barely broke the skin. Not even worthy of a trip to the hospital or even a bandage. But in legal terms, that was still assault with a deadly weapon.

The witnesses told me (and the cops) that one of the bad guys picked up my phone. So, add theft to the mix. I told the cops to throw in a jaywalking charge and destruction of property while they're at it.

So, I went about my evening with a really fucked up story for the guys at the bar. The irony is, the cops said they'll call me if anything turns up. Hopefully, it'll be after I get my new phone turned on.

Like I said, I'm fine. Don't worry about me. I don't know if that little fucker didn't have that great of upper body strength or maybe a poor choice in weaponry, but the damage was merely a flesh wound. Personally, I attribute the lack of real damage to the fact that I've never had a back massage in my entire life, and 32 years of tension built up a knot strong enough to deflect a flathead screwdriver tip.

But enough about me, how was your night?

Jul 4, 2009

Angels and Demons

To quote Tom Servo from Mystery Science Theater 3000, "I want to hurt this movie, but I don't think I can hurt it the same way it hurt me."

I've had a pretty good run at the movies the past few years. Of all the movies I paid to see since I moved back to Tulsa, the worst of them ranked as still pretty good. I attribute most of this to being very selective about what I throw my money at, and quite a few times it's been luck of the draw. Well, my lucky streak has ended with Angels and Demons.

I completely avoided anything having to do with the Da Vinci Code. Never read the book, nor the graphic novel, nor did I see the movie. Which was uncharacteristic of me because usually I enjoy anything that pisses off religious people. So, why did I go see Angels and Demons? Because a friend asked me to tag along, and I haven't seen a new movie in over a month. So, I took a chance, and now I'd like to respond.

First of all... Dan Brown, go fuck yourself. I've had conversations with homeless conspiracy theorists that had more credibility than your story arcs. I've fallen asleep with the TV tuned to the A&E and gotten a better grasp of history than you have. And the thought that so many people actually bought in to your bullshit, and that the Catholic Church considered you some sort of a threat, just makes me wanna French kiss the barrel of a sawed off shotgun and welcome the sweet release of death. You are to legitimate storytelling what Girls Gone Wild is to lesbianism; a cheap, flashy, completely non-realistic representation that leaves people too ashamed to demand their money back.

Second... Ron Howard, Tom Hanks, you're better than this. I can't blame you both for wanting a safe paycheck, but come on. This material is suitable only for people who found the mind games in the Saw movies a little too obtuse. It makes the Hardy Boys look like Hitchcock. I know Mr. Brown has a new book in this series coming out soon, but please, for the love of all things good and decent in this world, don't... Just don't.

I do, however, need to give the film credit for one thing: I didn't immediately figure out who the bad guy was. But, the moment all characters were established, I knew that if any of them were the bad guy, I figured out exactly how they would do it. It's like going to a restaurant knowing full well where they would spit in your food, and then, eating around it.

And I'm usually not one of those snooty nit-pickers that get all up in arms about little details in a film. I have a friend that hated Titanic because the Picasso and Monet paintings that went down with the ship were ones that still exist today, and that's what ruined the film for him. I'm not that kind of guy. I'll forgive the occasional flawed detail if the rest of the movie entertains me, but from the initial claim that there were a billion Catholics in the world, to Galileo's use of English in his clues, to the climactic assertion that cold temperatures had weakened the life of the doomsday device's batteries, this was the first movie that made me want to shout "BULLSHIT!" at the screen.

I wanted to give this movie a chance, but halfway through, I felt like sneaking in to see Transformers, just for the fact that those filmmakers knew their movie was brainless. Angels and Demons tried to pass itself off as intellectual, but in the same way someone actually slips their word-a-day calendar entries into daily conversation. It feels forced and only makes people like me want to laugh at their efforts.

To me, even the worst movies I sat through have had some redeeming quality that made the ticket price somewhat worth it. When I saw The Talented Mr. Ripley, I was able to ignore the insipid plot and dialogue and focus on the beautiful scenery. And even though Angels and Demons took place in Rome and the Vatican, it had all of the charm of a tour of Italy with a tour guide hopped up on Mescaline.

In summary, avoid this movie with every fiber of your being. Laugh derisively at anyone you see purchasing the DVD when it comes out. If a friend so much as mentions adding this to their Netflix queue, well, go ahead and let them watch it. Think of it as letting them date someone you don't approve of. Pointing out their bad judgment would only damage the friendship, and believe me, they'll need a shoulder to cry on when they realize they've made a horrible mistake.

Jun 12, 2009

Weird week

Sweet Zombie Jesus! This has been one hell of a week.

I got laid off on Tuesday. Not fired. Fired doesn't come with an apology every 15 seconds from my boss. There's just not enough work coming in to warrant having a full-time designer on staff. It sucks, but I understand it. Suddenly, I find myself really giving a shit about the economy.

I'll be alright. I'm actually kinda relieved at this new development. My options are wide open and for the first time in my life I have the wisdom to appreciate that state of mind. My main options are:

  1. Draw unemployment and interview around to find a full-time job.
  2. Drum up enough freelance work and find part-time work to sustain myself.
  3. Focus more on my comedy career.
  4. Maybe go back to school.
  5. Invest in a shack in Montana and drop off the grid.

Let's break that down...

Option #1 brings about many doubts. When the economy goes south, companies slash their advertising budgets. Which is counter-intuitive in my opinion because how are you supposedto bring in new customers if no one knows you're still in business. Its at times like these that any job that's available no doubt has many damned good reasons why it's available.

Option #2 is the most attractive to me. Sure, it means shoestring budgets, but I'd have my freedom to do almost anything I want when I can afford to do it. But hey, I've landed three freelance jobs this week alone... Maybe I can pull it off!

Option #3 is pretty attractive, seeing as the timing may be right to do something on that front. You see, on Wednesday I found out I made the run-off ballot for Urban Tulsa's Absolute Best fo Tulsa Awards for Best Comedian. I'm up against two seasoned professionals, but hey... Fingers crossed.

Option #4 is looking more and more likely. Why not try something different, you know?

Option #5 is pretty much out. I'm liking the limelight too much to pull a J.D. Salinger.

Stay tuned for more.

Jun 1, 2009

That's my name, wear it out

This is my new personal logo. Now, look at it upside down.

It's called an ambigram.

Here's the backstory:

Back in design school, I had a Grateful Dead decal on my art supply kit. Having just taken a class in Typography, I just loved this decal because of the way the words were designed. If you looked at the words Grateful Dead upside down, it read Grateful Dead. I remember showing the sticker to my Typography teacher and I asked if he'd give me extra credit if I could do something like that. He told me it would depend on the word.

Out of the eventual need for a personal logo when I was to start my job search a year later, and not purely out of self-centeredness, I decided I was gonna try to do my name this way. Piece of cake, I thought. I spelled out my name, then spun the paper around and spelled out the same letters above them, mapping out what the letters have to look like upside down to pull it off.

That's when I spotted the trouble. I wanted DAN FRITSCHIE to read the same when flipped. Flipping a D and making it read E wasn't too difficult, nor was N and H, but making any of the others work was a major pain in the ass. I even tried to simplify the process and make DANIEL read like FRITSCHIE, but making six letters look like nine upside down just made it harder.

Then, I thought I'd make it infinitely easier and just do FRITSCHIE. I stayed up nights doing sketch after sketch and nothing was quite working. The end of the semester quickly came and went, and I gave up on it... Until I was getting ready to graduate. It was laboring on this logo instead of other pieces for my portfolio that was partly to blame for repeating that particular semester. Having to focus on other things, I put it away and chalked it up as my unfinished, albeit deeply frustrating symphony.

Over the years, I revisited the idea, trying it in a variety of styles, from Art deco, to art nouveau, grunge, etc. and I still never got it to work. The F-E combo was simple enough, and it helped that S is right there in the middle. It was the RIT looking like upside down CHI that was the tough nut to crack. Off and on over the next twelve years, I would do a rough sketch or two, promising never to get sucked into it again. If I was gonna be locked in a padded room, it wasn't gonna be over a damned logo!

Then came help from the Illuminati.

The movie Angels and Demons did not interest me at all. Same thing with the DaVinci Code... not my cup of tea. But I went to the Angels and Demons website, and the graphic work there, where they had ambigrams of ILLUMINATI, FIRE, WATER, EARTH, AIR and METAL... all of which, pardon the pun, cracked the code of finishing that damned logo of mine.

A couple dozen sketches later, I had the groundwork for this new logo. A couple of hours messing around in Illustrator, couple of warp filters and viola! Years of intermittent insanity, and it was a Ron Howard movie that made me see the light?!? I guess all there's left to say is: Thanks, Opie!

Might make a neat tattoo, huh?Link

May 22, 2009

David

I wanted to share a story with you. It's one that's been on my mind a lot lately, given an event that happened last week, but more on that later. For now, I present to you, a wonderful love story.

David Fritschie was my cousin. His most prized possession in the entire world was his Plymouth GTX. His parents got it around the time of his birth, and when he turned 16, his father gave him the car. A beautiful matte green monster of a car with two black racing stripes, which he always kept in pristine condition. Two memories I keep about David was the time he had to send the car back to the shop after they botched a retouch paint job on the hood, and the time he scolded me for sitting in the driver's seat (a hell-worthy trespass in his opinion). These were probably the only times I ever saw him angry. It should also be noted that he NEVER let anyone else drive that car, under any circumstance.

But that's just a minor part of the story. The real story is about he and his wife, Beth.

They went to the same high school, but never got to know each other until much later. He knew of her in high school, even remembering the one class they shared and where she sat every day. About five years after high school, their paths crossed again at a bar. David came up to Beth and talked about their mutual friend who had tried to set them up together. Beth had offered to buy him a beer, and thankfully returned with two Budweisers, as Coors would've been a deal-breaker with David and then where would this story be?

They talked for a while, and Beth asked him to dance. David never danced, but for her, he made an exception. Later that night, they had their first kiss. Who kissed whom first was heavily debated, even after fifteen years.

They were deeply smitten with each other. One month in, and they were living together. Three years later, David decided he wanted to marry her. Knowing that Beth was not the jewelry type, he was puzzled as to what to do for an engagement ring. Then, he did something much more meaningful than any diamond could convey: He gave her a set of keys to his Plymouth GTX.

This was HUGE. Even we blood relatives were given the stink eye if we so much as touched that car, much less drive the frickin' thing! But even with this grand gesture, David was determined to get her a proper engagement ring. Money was obviously a factor, so Beth told him that if he really wanted to get him a ring, here's what she wanted... A Ring Pop. Watermelon. With a blue base.

David went to nearly every convenience store in the surrounding area, no doubt looking like a crazy person sitting on the floor of the candy aisle, sifting through every Ring Pop looking for the exact one his love had requested.

To this day, Beth still has that Ring Pop. A long since melted symbol of their love, and as Beth describes, the main reason their house is infested with ants.

This story of the blossoming of their relationship was something I was not aware of until this week. Being his cousin, I just remember Beth and David being together and that was that. Peas and carrots, as Forrest Gump once said. They were married soon after, and later had a daughter, Tess, who was this perfect mix of two of the best parents I ever witnessed. David was selflessly devoted to his wife and daughter.

It pains me to no end to use the past tense in this story.

David Charles Fritschie died on May 13, 2009. He and another man, a home owner David was helping out with a new water service line, were murdered by a mentally unstable man, a twice- convicted felon, over a dispute about said water service. This man, if we must call him one, is currently in custody and is awaiting trial.

I, like all others that knew and loved David, are heartbroken over this tremendous loss to the world. In my life, I've had to deal with death quite a few times. I've lost my father at an early age, and later lost my grandmother, my grandfather, and my mentor. However, all of these deaths, heartbreaking and tragic as they have been, were due to disease or freak accident. This is the first time I've been dealt the added devastation of having someone to blame. Since this senseless murder, we've all been pinballing back and forth from sorrow to rage.

David was my cousin. He was my older brother Eric's best friend and best man at his wedding. Growing up, David was like another brother to me, or as I put it at the funeral, the brother that didn't beat me up (not that I really blame Eric, because I did go out of my way sometimes to be a major pain in his ass).

And in all of this heavy flood of emotion, it's this story of David's undying love for Beth, and his devotion to her and their daughter Tess, that has pulled me back from the ledge. And while it's a small comfort in light of the tragic circumstances of his death, I know that David's life fits nicely in the category of "Life Well Lived".

His funeral this Tuesday was a testament to and a celebration of his life. Overflow in the church service caused a break out of folding chairs, and even then, there were many left standing. His coffin was adorned with the logo of his prized Plymouth GTX. He was buried in tie-dye, a fashion choice he wore nearly every day for the past 15-20 years of his life. Amazing Grace was played at the service, a recording made by Jerry Garcia, a favorite of David's.

David, we love you and we'll miss you every day until we someday will see you again. Be at peace.


The Tess Fritschie Scholarship Fund has been created at Bancorp South in Fort Smith at 1222 Rogers Ave; Fort Smith, AR 72901.

The Southside High School class of 1989 has set up a David Fritschie Memorial Fund at First National Bank of Fort Smith, P.O. Box 7; Fort Smith, Arkansas 72902.

Apr 19, 2009

The letter I SOOOO want to send to the fraudulent debt collectors that keep bugging the crap out of me.

In dealing with the fake debt collectors earlier today, I became obsessed with wanting to expose these people for the frauds they are. To that end, I'm gonna let them make their phone calls for a little while longer, having a little fun with the poor schmucks they have manning the phones for them. When that gets boring, I'll file a cease and desist letter and wait for them to try and call me again so I can sue their asses.

So, tonight I started a draft of that letter, but found I had too much frustration to craft a proper, diplomatic letter to these jackasses. So, I wrote up a fully sarcastic version of the letter just to get it out of my system. The language is a hard R, so anyone under the age of 17, PLEASE don't read past this point.

For the rest of you, enjoy:



Dear festering boils on the ass of society,

Pursuant to my rights under federal debt collection laws, I am requesting that you cease and desist communication with me, as well as my family and friends, in relation to this and all other alleged debts you claim I owe. In particular, the debt of over $7,000 (American) on the 2000 Saturn SL2 that had been labeled as repossessed in October of 2002 by GMAC.

On numerous occasions (at least 9 times between March 14 and April 17, 2009), I have been contacted by your company in an attempt to collect on this debt. The first time, I gotta admit, you kinda had me fooled. The way your Representative Attempting Monetary Return On Debt (hereafter referred to as RAMROD) tried to scare me with the threat of being taken to court and possibly have my wages garnished. Quite the little sphincter pucker I had that afternoon. However, there were some clues that your company was completely full of shit, such as:

A. Verification that I was the Daniel Fritschie you were looking for, even though a simple Google search would prove that I was the one of only two Daniel Fritschie's in the world today. And, seeing as the left wing for the Minnesota Wild NHL hockey team doesn't live in Oklahoma, and even his name is spelled slightly different, it's a pretty safe bet.

B. A lame attempt to verify my Social Security number. After an awkward silence by me, RAMROD switched gears and decided to verify my date of birth instead.

C. RAMROD talked a good game about being able to have my wages garnished, yet gave no indication that your company even knows who I work for.

D. I was repeated informed by RAMROD that the conversation was being recorded and that any information obtained from the recording would be used as evidence against me in court. There's not a judge in this country that would allow a deposition of a defendant over the phone without legal counsel. Wish for me to cite my source on that? Well, I first learned it from an episode of L.A. Law in 1986. And again, a simple Google search confirmed this statement.

The second time I spoke to an actual RAMROD of your company (not the automated computer voices that start the calls), we spoke for a couple minutes, as a follow-up from the first call. I had mentioned that I had consulted an attorney, and I was asked to be put on hold. Three bars into "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)", I was hung up on.

Six of the other instances that your company has called me has either gone straight to my voicemail, or RAMROD hangs up on me almost immediately. One of which was last night, which prompted me to call your company after hours and leave a voicemail message requesting that my number be removed from your calling lists. I say lists, because each time your company calls me, its from a different number, from one of two distinct area codes, making the process of blocking your number too unnerving to indulge in.

During the course of the message, I may have mentioned that I now know that your entire operation is a scam. If this touched a nerve in your organization, I'm truly sorry (that I didn't accentuate that statement by saying "fucking scam"). Because this morning, I got a call back from another of your RAMRODs in response to the voicemail message I had left, wherein he went through basically the same speech I was given the first time you had called. Only this time, I pointed out the aforementioned flaws in your, as I now know, pre-written script that every one of your RAMRODs must be able to master or else they are fired, and I'm guessing they go right back to the streets to pull tricks for meth money.

However, I was not able to finish my statements to your RAMROD before he told me I was being rude and hung up on me. I was wanting to announce that I was willing to write a check for the full amount of the debt right here and now, providing you could supply me with the following:

1. A signed, witnessed and notarized letter from GMAC that this money will go to paying off this supposed debt, even though it has completely left my credit report altogether. How do I know this, because how else would I have qualified for a new car loan last fall?

2. A copy of the complete court transcript of one (1) lawsuit that your company has filed, won and managed to garnish the wages of the defendant, as well as proof that the recorded telephone conversations were admitted into evidence.

3. Written or verbal confirmation that you know my Social Security number AND middle name. You know, standard legal bullshit.

4. I would like my Saturn SL2 back. The whole reason I got into this mess was because I exercised the option to turn the car in and avoid the balloon payment, and GMAC lost the damned paperwork. This is why the debt went unpaid in the first place, and I'm telling you the same thing I told GMAC before they gave up trying to collect the debt from me: I'm not paying for a car I'm not driving.

However, seeing as the statute of limitations on that debt for the State of Oklahoma where I reside, as well as the State of Arkansas where the initial contract on that car was signed is five (5) years, and that expired in October, 2007, my offer to pay the money is pretty much moot, as is your claim to the debt. Ooooh... Sick burn!

So, please stop calling me, quit sending me bills in the mail, forget you even fucking know my name, because you have absolutely no legal leg to stand on. Besides, even if you did, you would have served me with papers instead of calling me on my cell like a little bitch.

You are hereby notified that if you do not comply with this request, I will immediately file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office. Civil and criminal claims will be pursued. Also, I now know where your offices are, as well as how to make a molotov cocktail. Surprisingly enough, I managed to find out both of those bits of information with the same Google search. You guys should really try that out. Fucking amazing!

In closing, may your spirits burn for eternity in the fiery sub-basement of the lower structure of whatever Hell considers to be it's own Hell. May the teeth of a thousand beasts repeatedly puncture the tenderest flesh of your bodies while everyone laughs at your genitals. Fuck you!

Sincerely,
Daniel J. Fritschie

P.S. ...And the horse you rode in on.

Mar 24, 2009

I'd be worried that my clients would read this, but odds are they're not tech-savvy enough for a Google search

Today was one of those days where I would have blown my brains out if I wasn't so certain that everyone around me would break out the Ouija Boards to bug the shit out of me in the afterlife.

Most of my rage I attribute to quitting smoking again. Thirty-fifth time's a charm! It's not that I'm nic-fitting left and right, it's just that I find myself without my usual three-minute on-the-hour-every-hour break from the madness. Sure, I take my deep breaths and count to ten when things get a little too intense, but the fact remains that I'm still sitting at my desk, which means that I can't stop them from coming into my office.

Why, you may ask, don't I just step away from my desk and go outside like I used to and simply not smoke? Because they now follow me out there if I do. It's no longer personal time, it's I just happen to be outside time.

In the words of the immortal Lloyd Bridges, "Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking."

Most of the problem stems from the office being short-staffed this week. One of my bosses is on vacation this week, and as much as I love proving to him when he comes back that we were able to handle everything while he was away, it's gonna be tough. Sure, we're getting shit done, but it's not gonna be up to the standards I know we're being held to in his absence. It also doesn't help that the clients we've been dealing with this week have been a wee bit prickly. It's almost as if they've become self-aware that the invisible sweater they've been knitting doesn't exist, and they're looking for something else to fixate their insanity on.

Here they are, listed anonymously:

Client A: Brought in his entire hard drive to transport his files. What's worse, is that he forgot the power cable to said hard drive, and we needed to unplug one of our computers to use the power cord, which could possibly not have been the same voltage. Even worse, he didn't have all the files we needed on that hard drive, and he was leaving for a cruise, so he couldn't get the other files for us, telling us, "You guys'll figure out something." This is like a cop asking for your ID, and you hand him your pants. Then, you piss all over the cop, claiming that they could test the DNA in the urine.

Client B: Bugged us five times a day for proofs on a project, only to tell us when it was approved to print that she wouldn't have quantities for us for another six weeks. Then, she gave us a week to design and print two jobs that were due in a week. I wanted to beat her to death with a Franklin Planner.

Client C: Wanted this woman's name listed in the project as Maddie, then changed it to Madeline, then changed it back to Maddie and approved it. After it was printed, she requested that it needs to be Madeline in all future projects.

Client D: Five rounds of revisions to a simple business card layout. Same information every time, just obsessing over the spacing of the lines of text. To test a theory of mine, the last proof was exactly the same as the previous one. It was approved, and this client went right back to repeatedly washing her hands and muttering to herself.

Client E: Disputed the capitalization of a word set in a font that doesn't contain lower-case letters. That's not a giant, Mr. Quixote, its a windmill.

Client F: Shocked and appalled that I was out to lunch at 12:05, even though they didn't call ahead to let us know that they were stopping by. I'm shakin' the bushes, boss!

Ugh... and this was only Tuesday.

Mar 14, 2009

Good luck getting a dime out of ME

I had a nice little sphincter pucker on Wednesday. A call came through on my cell, from a number I did not recognize. A recorded voice spoke when I answered. "Please hold for an important call for (deeper, computerized voice) Daniel... Joseph... Free-chee... (back to recording) If you are... (deeper, computerized voice) Daniel... Joseph... Free-chee... (back to recording) please, press 1."

I pressed one. A man came on the line, introducing himself as a representative of the Law Firm of Lots of Important Sounding Last Names. He wanted first to confirm that I was the Daniel Fritschie he was looking for. Odds were good seeing as there are only two other Daniel Fritschies on the planet. He wanted to confirm my social security number, but I waited to see if he would start reciting the numbers first. He didn't, instead choosing to confirm my birthdate. I was the Daniel Fritschie he was looking for.

He started spouting out some legal crap about the Saturn SL2 I turned in five years ago, and he was trying to collect on the balloon payment that GMAC said that I owed them.

A little backstory: In 2003, I was leasing this Saturn, and the balloon payment was fast approaching. I had three options:

Pay the balloon payment and keep the car.
Trade the car in on a new lease.
Turn the car in and not owe the balloon payment.

I tried with all my might to get the money for the balloon payment, or at the very least, refinance it. I took extra hours at work, worked part time at other jobs, but I was still coming up short. So, I decided at the last minute to exercise option #3. The deadline for turning in the car was on a Sunday, so I dealt with GMAC on Friday, who told me I could fax in the proper paperwork, which I did.

I spent all day Saturday with a friend driving down to Little Rock to pick up the truck I was gonna borrow from my parents. On Sunday, we turned in the car to the Tulsa Saturn dealership. It was after hours at this point, so I left the vehicle there with a note explaining the situation and the confirmation number from GMAC.

A couple weeks later, I got a letter from GMAC informing me that they marked the car off as a repossession, that I still owed the balloon payment, plus repair fees, minus what it will go for at auction. A few panicked phone calls later, GMAC effectively stonewalled me. They said I had no legal recourse, and I owed them the money.

After about a year and a half, the phone calls and the letters stopped. It still sat there as a big melanoma on my credit report, but I stood firm in my refusal to pay for a car I was not driving. This past fall, the debt got written off of my credit report, and I finally qualified for a new car loan.

About this time, I started getting some last chance letters trying to collect on that balloon payment. I ignored the letters altogether. In fact, any mail that isn't a utility bill or handwritten addressed direct to me, goes right in the recycle bin.

Back to the phone call. The guy on the phone kept informing me that they are filing legal action and anything I said was being recorded and could be used as evidence against me in court. I answered his questions without admitting to any wrong doing. GMAC didn't hold up their end of the bargain, unless they could get me my old car back, then they weren't gonna see a dime from me.

The man asked if i was gainfully employed. I told him that I was employed, but not gainfully. He threatened to garnish my wages, I told him he could try. You can't get blood from a turnip, I told him.

The more he pressed, the more I had to restate that I'm not answering any more questions until I consulted an attorney. We ended our phone conversation. I started to panic a bit. Outside, on my third cigarette, I bitched about the phone call to a co-worker, and she said it sounded like a scam. I went back inside, Googled the phone number and company name, and the first thirty links were from fraud alert web sites. They were trying to scam me.

Turns out, when a bad debt gets written off, the information gets "lost", and these scammers "find" this information and attempt to collect on the debt on behalf of their "client". I also found out that no one in the legal profession can depose you over the phone, and no one announces over the phone that they are filing a lawsuit. If these guys had a leg to stand on, then I would be served with official papers.

I got another letter from them today, and I'm gonna use it to file a complaint with every agency that covers this kind of thing. And if they call me again, I'm gonna refer them to my attorney, Drew Edmondson, Oklahoma Attorney General.