I also know when I’m too busy… because that’s when I don’t have time to blog.
That statement was very true over the last few days.
It started on Thursday night at about 10 p.m. My Dad (a lawyer who specializes in consumer bankruptcy law at a price that poor folks can afford) called me up and asked if I could help him tomorrow. He said that tomorrow was the last day that he could file new bankruptcy cases before the new bankruptcy law (BARF – Bankruptcy Abuse Reform Fiasco) kicked in and that he was working down to the wire to file some folks in desperate situations. He also said that he heard the line to file new bankruptcy petitions was 3 hours long on Thursday, so he wanted me to get in line first thing in the morning to get his last few filed. So I went out to his office in Newcastle at about 1 a.m. and picked up the cases to file, and then headed home to sleep.
On Friday morning I was dragging so I hit Java Dave’s for some coffee and breakfast and then got to the Federal Bankruptcy Court in OKC at opening time (8:30). I thought things looked good since there was no line outside, but once I made it through the security checkpoint inside I realized that I was wrong. There were probably 200 or more people in line ahead of me (about half lawyers and half paralegals and courriers), as well as another 50 or so pro-se filers in another line (pro-se debtors are folks who are representing themselves without an attorney). Thankfully I brought a book (Howard Zinn‘s A People’s History of the United States which seemed appropriate on this day that the poor folks of America were getting screwed so bad by the system), so I did a fair bit of reading and visiting with those ahead of me in line.
After about an hour or so the line split, so now there were three lines — one for pro-se debtors, one for those filing 1-2 cases, and one for those filing 3+ cases. (I’ll give you three guesses which line I was in). Finally after 4 hours in line I got my 19 cases filed.
After that I buzzed home to get my camp stool (I was hoping I could sneak that through the security check), and then Book Beat & Co. (to buy a book for the afternoon of waiting— I ended up getting Roxane Dunbar-Ortiz‘s Outlaw Woman), and then to Newcastle to grab lunch for my Dad and me, and to pick up more cases. I then buzzed back up to OKC and got in line. I had 3 cases to file, but my Dad had 2-3 more he was trying to work in at the last minute that he felt sorry for, so the plan was for me to get in line and then he would hand off the new cases to me before 6 p.m. (when they closed the doors). This ended up working out well, as he got there around 5-ish, and then shortly after that I got to “drop box” the remaining cases (normally at 4:30 the clerk’s office closes but they let you drop new cases in the drop box until 6 p.m. and still get today’s stamp). In the case due to the massive number being filed, “drop boxing” meant going to a different office and handing off the files with a cover sheet saying how many you were leaving off and giving your office’s contact info.
So I was a minor part of history. From what I understand the average day sees 40-50 cases filed, but on Friday there were over 2000 filed (and probably 8,000+ filed over the entire week). I’m so glad that so many folks were able to beat the hammer of oppression, but am horrified by what happens next.
Not to be morbid, but Christmas is coming. Millions of struggling Americans will feel guilty about all of the sacrifices their families must make due to their poverty and end up spending too much on their kids (this phenomenon is as predictable as the rising sun). They will then fall behind on their payments (which they were just barely able to pay off before this) and by February and March they will be defaulting on their credit cards.
But in 2006, the after-Christmas bankruptcy rush will be the after-Christmas suffering and misery rush. Late payments, over the limit charges and 30% interest will start piling on. Folks will then respond by doing stupid things like getting loans from paycheck loan companies and before long are pushed right over the edge. In the days that follow, America will see tens of thousands lose their homes in foreclosure and tens of thousands more be evicted from rentals they can no longer afford, hundreds of thousands will lose their cars, hundreds will commit suicide, and thousands of the eldery will go without health care or even will die in their homes from the cold (Because they can’t pay the gas bill, which many think will be double of what it was last year). I don’t mean to be melodramatic, but I think this is what lays head.
And this isn’t even considering the effects of Katrina.
(to be continued…)