The Uphill Slide

There is always something.

Be Prepared


That is the Scout motto. “Be Prepared” is the mantra echoed over and over. The reality is that you can never really be prepared for all eventualities.

Our family did not follow this advice. We were not prepared for Jacob’s conviction, because we did not and could not believe that an innocent person would be convicted. We had faith in the system and faith in conscience. How utterly naive we were! I have been educated now in the criminal justice system and have a much more insightful understanding of human conscience. Yet, I still have a tiny essence of faith in things I rationally should reject. My minds knows, but my soul will not give up. My faith is irrational.

Jacob asked his divorce lawyer to draw up a will in case he died before his divorce was final. We were prepared for his death but not for his conviction. Actually though, we did ask her to draw up a power of attorney (POA) with the will, both of which were stuck in a file box. The POA was never copied and delivered to those institutions that might need it if he were incarcerated. I did not have his sign-ins for his online accounts and his phone. When he called me after his incarceration, I would have a list of passwords I needed. He usually remembered them or gave me a couple of possibilities. I seldom remember my passwords. That is why I have a password-protected list of all my passwords. Unfortunately, no one has the password for that list; my family will be shit-out-of-luck trying to access my accounts when I am gone. I should get prepared.

When I needed that POA for a financial institution to do some transactions, I took a copy to their office. The clerk copied it and told me someone would review it. A week or so later, I received an unanswered call about their decision. At the same time, there was a letter in the mail stating that the account would be closed because no funds had been deposited for months. I never returned that call because their verdict was irrelevant. They froze the account which actually became the method for me to finally cancel those accounts with automatic payments who refused to respond to my requests to cancel them. Now their draw on the account would be declined. Was that a good method to use to cancel accounts? Absolutely not. Did I care? No. Jacob has been robbed of so much now; why should I worry about his credit too?

That is a worry for the future if he becomes an earner again. Of course, any creditors will fall in line behind Allegheny County with whom he has racked up a hefty bill while he sits in their jail. I suppose they will keep adding charges until he gets out and gets a job to pay them. He thought marriage put him into debt; it is nothing compared to the bill and running tab the criminal justice system hits you with on the way out the door. The itemized bill includes payments to organizations I never heard of. It includes payments that can best be described as ‘adding insult to injury’. Cary told me about a girl she knew who owed $52,000 when she got out of jail. Of course, some of that was likely restitution. Still, if you had no job or hopes for the future; what do you think you would do if you owed that much money? Return to drugs? Ignore it and violate parole? Commit more crimes?

Jacob has a new creditor presenting a bill of payment. There was a charge from an e-book retailer doing business predominantly in Russia and the Ukraine. I opened a letter about a week ago detailing a late payment on his charge card which after an unpaid month included a late charge and interest. The letter was in a pile of unopened mail. It looked like junk mail to be shredded without opening. Luckily, (a strange word for me to use – ‘luck’), I opened the envelope before pushing it through the blades of the shredder. How could he have a charge on a credit card that was locked away in my safe? I called the fraud department and explained that Jacob was in jail [I often use that honest statement when I am trying to extricate myself from those persistent telemarketer calls. They usually apologize (Why? They did not put him there.) or just hang up; they never give up though.], and I had a POA. “Is it on file with us?” she asked. I had never considered doing that after he went to jail because no one was going to use the card. The representative transferred me to someone else who promised that the fraud department would call me in 24 hours or at the latest, 48 hours. They cautioned that they might not be able to help me, because I was not authorized. I might just be some devious ex-wife trying to get out of paying. No one called me; instead, they sent a letter to Jacob. We have been trying to reach you it stated. “Had they not been listening to me?” I wondered.

They were trying to call a defunct number for an individual in jail. I told them that he was in jail. Why would they try to call? Just checking if I was a liar I suppose. Wait, they said they had discovered the possible fraudulent charge. I was the one who discovered it, and now they wanted to take credit for their vigilance. That was OK. At least, my call placed a hold on the account so those hacker thieves could not use the card again. They will have to troll again for other incarcerated people who have credit card accounts.

My advice then is to be prepared to always be unprepared.

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