Friday, November 19, 2010

Begging me to Sue

In the last 14 hours I've gotten two calls from different law firms asking if I want to sue. They'll be happy to provide me with the support and services I need. And they hint that I don't even need an 'official' injury. Any soreness or discomfort counts too, thanks to Florida law.

In September I was in a car accident. It was pretty bad or would have been awful if I wasn't driving a Honda CR-V. And if I hadn't been driving well below the speed limit. And if I didn't have fairly sharp driving skills. And if the other driver also wasn't driving a Honda CR-V. Yes, it could have been a terrible, awful, money-making enterprise if all those pesky, safety features weren't in place.

The other driver was at fault. 100%. I mean, absolutely 100 %, unequivocal, 'what the hell were you thinking?' at fault. So much at fault that when he got out of the car he couldn't even come up with an excuse, just a sheepish look. He tried holding his sides for a few seconds to feign sympathy but, as I wrote about before, I didn't look enraged so he dropped the injury pretense.

The police report also states the other driver was 100% at fault. The other driver's insurance paid the bill. End of story. Last night I got a call from Florida. I could smell the sweat of desperation on the line and thought it might have been one of those random prison calls from inmates trying to solicit donations or favors. It was a low-level lawyer, probably with a spreadsheet of recent accidents and police reports in front of him and the contact information. He was contacting me to ask if I was in an accident? I said I was and wondered if I was about to get a summons or lawsuit for maybe blocking someone's yard with my wrecked car before it was towed. Happily the lawyer informed me that I wasn't getting sued, but I could now take the opportunity -thanks to Florida law- to sue the other driver. I could get up to $10-20,000 AND -here's the great part- I don't even have to be injured. If I claim to even experience any discomfort, aches, pains, kinks in my shoulder, then I could be 'making it rain' at the next strip club very soon.

A few thoughts instantly occured. First, there was no way I was going to pretend to be hurt. Second, it isn't easy to turn down 'so called' free money. Despite all my years of ethical training and my parents raising me 'right' and being surrounded by good, ethical friends....when someone calls up and offers an unethical but plausibly easy way of earning a lot of money there is something deep inside me that stirs. It isn't a desire to say yes. It isn't a willingness to lie. But it feels like I'm watching $10,000 fly out a window and I want to yell 'WAIT!!! Don't go yet! Let's just talk a bit. Tell me how this thing works again." I didn't like that image of me watching money fly away, so I quickly thanked the person and got off the phone. I called my mom with a 'isn't that crazy' check-in. She confirmed it was crazy but the tone in her voice said 'don't even think about it, mister!!" And then she lectured. But Mom! I turned down the money and called you with a light laugh. It's crazy. Just crazy. Haha, so....anyway...back to all that college debt I have.

I met up with a fellow artist and we lamented on our financial deficiencies. Then I woke up and nervously checked my bank account and planned my expenses for the holiday season. Winter in New York bitterly reminds me of poverty. The chapped-lipped homeless, the driving wind, the subway begging picks up.

The thoughts of lawsuits and flying money were almost completely gone when I got another call this afternoon at my second of three jobs that I'm working to try to stay afloat. It was another Florida law firm. They had seen my police report. I sighed and told them someone already called me. "So you're going to go with them?' he sounded slightly disappointed. I told him I wasn't going with any law firm and that I wasn't injured. The lawyer reminded me that I didn't have to be officially injured. Any irritation, any aching, bruising? He was fishing. I sighed and thanked him for his time and got off the line. Then I felt the need to write. Perhaps as a confessional or maybe a check-in to confirm 'this is crazy. That's crazy. They're crazy. This whole thing is crazy' and have a good laugh.

A few minutes before the call I was using my break to fill out a fundraising check. I don't have much but I'm giving half of it away to charity. As I wrote out the check, I could see the funny little green bills. They were flying out the window. Migrating south for the winter. Maybe I'll see them again some time soon.