Vocab point for native German-speakers: debt collector = der Inkassobeauftragte or der Schuldeneintreiber. They are people whose job it is to knock on your door and get the debtor to pay their debts. I think you get the idea, especially if one these people hass ever paid you a visit.
What I wonder is this:
- Train driver
- Army officer
I can understand why youngsters will tell the careers adviser that they would like to, would love to, would dream of becoming one. But has any careers adviser ever had a year 11 student ever say:
Please, Sir, my career ambition is to become a debt collector.
My first experience of dealing with a debt collector hammering on the door was back in 2003.
The place: a village in North Yorkshire, England.
The time: tea-time on a Friday evening.
Boom, boom, boom, tap, tap, tap, thump, thump, rattle, rattle on letter box.
I leave the sofa and the ITV news to head to the door, while my Dad enjoys his tea, for I was visiting him for the weekend NB: Chain is on door. Old HM Forces habits of being security-conscious.
At the door – a man looking like a stereotypical night club doorman.
Good evening, sir. Are you John Barleycorn?
An unfriendly scowl from the visitor, holding his clipboard.
Never heard of him, I’m afraid.
Yeah, yeah, everyone tells me that. Are you Mr John Barleycorn?
Well, who are you?
Well, who are you, first of all. Can I see some form of ID, please?
Tut and humph and sigh, and ID badge with name, Nick H***, on it. Acme Recovery Services. “Recovery” being a euphemism for “debt collectors.”
Can you produce some form of ID then?
No. I don’t have to.
Well, do you know where John Barleycorn has moved to?
Time for a bit of fun (for me, at least)…
Actually, I do know where he lives. John Barleycorn, you say? Now, hang on a minute. He did leave a note, giving a forwarding address. Now, I had a tidy-up yesterday. I can’t find the piece of paper right now, but it’ll be somewhere in my study. Tell you what, I don’t want to have people knocking on my door again, wasting my time and their time. If you could give me your mobile number, I can give you a bell and give you his new address. I think it’s somewhere in Northallerton.
Would you? That would be much appreciated, mate. Here’s my calling card, with my mobile on.
Conversation ends. Our man walks off back to his 4WD.
Two minutes later a quick phone call to my old boss.
Mike, you’re not exactly interested in the opposite sex. Can you give me an address of a good gay dating website, please,? Oh, and some good buzzwords to use. I’ll explain later.
Er, yeah, whatever. Try www….
Within ten minutes I have registered a profile for our visitor on the website, including his mobile number.
25 year old bi-curious guy in London seeks new adventures, etc etc.
Fast forward two weeks. A payphone in a Yorkshire village. Insert coins of the realm. Dial 07… etc, the debt collector’s mobile.
I get voicemail. A gem. Ein Knaller.
A grumpy, annoyed and altogether unhappy-sounding voice announces:
This is Nick H. Unfortunately I have had to change my mobile number. Please leave me your number, and I will ring you back from my new number.
(I wonder why he changed his mobile number…)
Have a mischievious day, won’t you!