Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sometimes right is just wrong

Just because something is legal doesn't mean it's right.

In this case, it is legal for collection agencies in the United States to track you down to get you to collect your neighbor's debt. But in the State of Illinois, you may be convicted of a felony for eavesdropping on your own private conversations.

State law in Virginia prohibits corrupt practices of bribery by any person other than political candidates, while criminals in Texas can commit a crime if they don't get caught. But, the criminals are required to give their victims 24 hours notice.

And in Hollywood, California, it is illegal to drive more than 2,000 sheep down Hollywood Boulevard at the same time. But, tour bus drivers do it all the time.

A few days ago, I was minding my own business when I discovered big brother likes to spy on me for absurd reasons and turn his back when Corporate America acts sleazy. What is amazing is I don't have a brother. I have a sister.

My adventure into the land of unrighteousness began when my cell phone rang. "Ms. Perdue, I am calling you because I need to reach your neighbor."

I wondered why this stranger wasting my cell minutes didn't just call the person who lives down the hall.

"We're trying to reach him on a private business manner in an attempt to collect a debt. We haven't been able to reach him, so we need you to do it for us."

I know I've had some strange temp jobs in my life, but I don't recall ever working for this collection agency. So I inquired why all of a sudden I literally was on call. "Why should I do your job for you? I'm pretty sure I'm not on your payroll. And, how did you get my cell phone number?"

"You should do this because you are a nice person. Your neighbor owes us $35 and we want to collect it. And, we don't have to tell you how we got your number because we haven't done anything illegal."

I've always been an outspoken soul, but I expect unknown companies to protect my privacy. So, I copped an attitude. "I refuse to do your job because I don't work for you. Plus, you tracked down my personal information just so you can make money. You owe me an explanation of how you got my cell phone number. And if that isn't bad enough, Ms. Sleazeball, I don't have unlimited minutes on my cell phone. So at 19 cents per minute for three minutes, you also owe me 57 cents.

Ms. Sleazeball did what any slime bag would do when confronted. She hung up.

I called back and asked to speak to Ms. Sleazeball's supervisor. When she refused to connect me, I bellowed, "I want my 57 cents. And, if you don't tell me how you got my number, I'm reporting you to the FCC."

She was ready for me. "We don't have to give you your 57 cents. And, we don't have to tell you how we got your cell number. This is a private business manner to collect a debt."

"If my neighbor isn't home, do you want me to break into his apartment and steal the $35 he owes you?"

"That could work if you don't get caught. But if you're in Texas, you have to inform your neighbor you're going to steal his money. I can't tell you anything else because this is a private business manner to collect a debt of $35."

I had to question her logic. "Don't you mean business matter instead of manner because you sure ain't using good manners? Don't make me report you to the FCC and Miss Manners."

I'm pretty sure that's what I said. After all, I was eavesdropping on my conversation. I prayed Ms. Sleazeball wouldn't rat me out to officials in Illinois.

After Ms. Sleazeball had the gall to hang up on me again, I called Miss Manners and she was appalled.

"This is unbelievable," she said. "I can't believe you called the collection agency people sleaze balls. I know good and well your mother taught you that if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."

After she hung up on me, I called the FCC. "Hey, I'll pay you 57 cents if you'll push for legislation to make it illegal in all 50 states to use third-party cell phones to get money from a debtor."

The FCC guy insisted on playing by the rules. "Well lady, you might want to reconsider and ask us to change the law in 49 states. We'll have to exclude Virginia because you're trying to bribe us with 57 cents. However, we could include Virginia if you move there and run for Congress."

"Me run for Congress in Virginia? That's ridiculous. If I win, I'd have to spend winter in Washington D.C. They have lousy weather."

"Well, we would need support in numbers to convince Congress to pass such a law."

Being proactive, I offered a solution. "I can go over to Hollywood Boulevard and get 2,000 sheep. But if the police stop me, I could get delayed. The officer might fall asleep counting all those sheep."

The FCC guy was impressed at my persistence.

"I could never drive 2,000 sheep down Hollywood Boulevard at one time," he said. I could only drive four because I don't have enough seatbelts."

I got frustrated and hung up. Sometimes doing the right thing isn't worth 57 cents even if it's legal.