Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Process Server

Perhaps you remember Zen, my former friend and tenant who got on drugs (along with her son) and trashed the mobile home I owned and rented to her.

Because Zen wasn't paying rent, I repo'd the home to find quite a mess. The total in past rent and damages was well over what I was given, but I was still given a substantial sum.

After the court ruling, Zen told many people that "you can't get blood out of a stone" and made it very clear that she wasn't going to pay me a dime. Why would she, when you have to pay good money to get totally awesome drugs? Drugs aren't cheap, ya know.

Then she disappeared, so that she couldn't be summonsed to court to enforce the judgement.

It's taken some work, but I found her address, in a town that's several cities away. I need the money now, just as I needed the money then (she somehow is under the false impression that I'm fabulously wealthy). So, I re-opened the case, paying fees to do so and have her served once more. I even drove by her residence to make sure she indeed lived there (she does).

On Monday I got a notice in the mail that the Sheriff's Department couldn't serve her and 'no such person' lived at that address. Knowing that this wasn't true, I contacted the sheriff's process server.

The process server told me that when he had gone up to her apartment complex (which is a hippie enclave of some kind) that the man who answered the door said that Zen didn't live there. The tenant added that HE had lived there for seven years, and he would surely know. So, the process server gave up. (Note to everyone involved in a case in Hillsborough County: Don't use the sheriff's process server - find a private one.)

So I had a long discussion with my best friend, Pov, who felt that he should drive all that way early in the morning to see if she'd moved or if she was just dodging the court (bless Pov for caring enough to do that, when other people slept warm in their beds... including me).

Pov was there before 6 AM, in enough time to see her car and the lights go on in her apartment. I called him to check on what was happening and he told me, asking me to call the process server to see if he could return now that we KNEW she was there.

I called the process server, but he told me that he's only paid to go out and try during that one period of time, and he couldn't do a thing unless we waited for his supervisor to OK it. His supervisor's shift began between 10-12 AM. It was 7:45.

So I did some research, and called a nearby private process server, "Sue", at 7:45 in the morning. And woke her up out of a sound sleep.

"Call me back in half an hour, OK?" she asked sleepily. I agreed, somewhat disgruntled. I wanted Zen served before she disappeared.

I cheated a little: I called at 8:12. And at 8:17.

At 8:25, Sue called back, somewhat understandably irritated but hiding it as well as she could. When I had explained the situation to her, she said she was willing to go out there and serve Zen as soon as she had her coffee and a quick shower. In the meantime, she asked me to fax her the paperwork.

I did. Then I called her to see if she'd received the fax. "Uh, let me get out of the shower, first, OK?" Sue asked patiently.

Meanwhile, I had Pov on the phone, letting him know what was going on. Pov reported that Zen was still there.

Sue called me when she was on her way. I gave her Pov's number so that they could coordinate. In a short while, Pov called me gleefully.

"She went roaring up to Zen's door in a sparkling new Mustang," he reported. "So because she didn't look like a cop, Zen opened the door to her and she handed Zen the paperwork - Zen's been served!"

I danced around and whooped a lot, and then called Sue to tell her she was a goddess.

Then I called Pov back to celebrate a little more. His voice echoed strangely. "Where are you?" I asked.

"In a gas station bathroom, if you don't mind," Pov snapped. "You try sitting in a car for four hours without being able to go to the bathroom. If I'd had a jar in that car, it would be full!"

Now I'll see Zen in court in January. Contrary to what many people think, I can dock her pay - so it's not so easy to dodge what she owes me. Zen's used to landlords who don't care and can afford to write off such large sums. I can't do that.

It's time for Zen to pay up.


Ed Abbey said...

I wish you the best of luck but I've never had any luck any after going to court and getting an order to get their pay docked. Those type of people always seem to work for cash under the table.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Ed, It's amazing, isn't it? That's what she was doing with her last employer. But it's hard to find employers who will go along with that any more - the government slaps them hard when they're exposed and it's really not worth the problem.

Zen is living somewhere, and paying for rent, food and other things SOMEhow. I don't believe she could still be on welfare. I think she exhausted that years ago... she was collecting welfare AND working then. Anyway, I think you're allowed only so many years of welfare but either way, she's going to have to pay SOMEthing. I'm happy to settle for $25 a week. It's better than nothing. And if she'd gone with that offer years ago, she wouldn't be continually dragged back to court, which she hates.

Knot said...

This sounds a lot like trying to get child support out of dead beat dads. What if she quits working? Do you get to garnish her welfare?


Saur♥Kraut said...

Knot, Thankfully people can't be on welfare forever. ;o) Yeah, she's a deadbeat renter, AND a deadbeat mom... and worse, since she apparently encourages her kid to do drugs (he 'artistically' painted a giant pot leaf on one of the shelves which he wrote was a 'rolling table') and does them herself. She's no prize. I was really saddened to see her go that path.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Great story, shame it's all so true but well done on grafting away and having excllent friends who back you, they are priceless and a blessing well deserved.

Take care.

Emil said...

Thomas Carlyle said: "Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragement, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak"!

Well done, and a hat tip too your friend and server!!

Saur♥Kraut said...

Daniel, So very true. True friends are a rarity, but I count myself lucky to have some. ;o) *hugs* to you and Emma Jane. Glad to hear your reviews were so fantastic!

Emil, Lovely quote, thank you so much for sharing it!

mal said...

Flakes keep doing it because people often give up after a time.
What ever happens here, she will ALWAYS be looking over her shoulder to see if you are behind her

Good luck *S*

The Lazy Iguana said...

The fact you tracked her down probably got to her. Many people would not bother to put that much time into it.

But she is right about one thing. You can not get blood out of a rock. She can lie about her income. Or she can ignore a judgment.

If you can (and I do not know how this would work) try to see if you can set it up so the pays the courts, who then pay you. This way if she fails to pay the courts know. She can not say "I paid her with cash" or something. If the courts charge a fee for this it may be worth it.

And be prepared to do the same thing all over. As in track her down, file court papers, and so on.

R2K said...

I am doing a cartoon contest again:


M@ said...

How Zen....

Congratulations on that.... Even if Ed's right about that, you should dog her for years. You should be her bogeyman. :)

Jamie Dawn said...

Yes indeedy! It's time for her to pay the piper, and this time, the piper is YOU!
It's good that you didn't give up.
My parents had lousy renters awhile back who got away with not paying rent for about four months before they were able to get them out. These same people moved in just about two blocks from my parents' house and tried to do the same thing.
Luckily, my hubby saw them and called the owner of the house to warn them about these people. Sure enough, they'd already gone delinquent on their rent. The guy evicted them pronto!
Sometimes people go through genuinely hard times and have trouble paying rent, but oftentimes people take advantage of landlords who have compassionate hearts. Sounds like Zen spent her rent money on drugs, then thought for sure she'd never have to pay you anything.
Come January, I hope you get what you are owed.

Geri said...

Sheesh, some people. That's horrible you have to go to all this trouble. I hope you get all your money in the end. Sounds like Zen needs to be in JAIL. What a deadbeat.

Fred said...

One for the good guy.

I'll keep in mind your advice about Hillsborough County. You never know.