07.08.04

11:59 p.m.

I'm officially bankrupt

I never did find my Social Security card. I gave up looking about 3:00am this morning. I looked into getting a new one, and all you need is a driver’s license/photo ID, and one other item proving you are who you say you are. I then decided that since my pay stub has my Social Security number on it, it should be adequate as proof of my identity.

Jackie came with me to court this morning. She comes everywhere with me; we’re a little co-dependent. In fact, we tell people we’re sisters to avoid the illusion that we’re lesbian lovers. Not that there’s anything wrong with being lesbians, we just aren’t.

Anywho, we arrived at the courthouse an hour early. My lawyer had suggested coming early to watch other people’s hearings. I could’ve showed up 2 hours late and still had plenty of viewing time; I was slated to appear at 10:30am, but didn’t actually go up until around 1:00pm. I suppose that’s a good thing since my lawyer showed up late.

I noticed a reoccurring theme in all the people before me – they all were wearing jeans/shorts/last night’s gym clothes. I was literally the only person in there who actually looked like I was going to court. Also, 90% of them had filed bankruptcy before. Of those 90%, two-thirds had filed more than once. Am I the only one that thought this was something to feel ashamed about? I never plan on filing bankruptcy again, I learned my lesson. I guess to some people, this is a routine thing.

When my lawyer arrived he pulled me out of the courtroom, along with his other 8 clients, and discussed what was going to happen. After sitting through about 15 hearings already, I was well versed in my “yes, ma’am”, “no, ma’am” answers. I mentioned I didn’t have my Social Security card, luckily, I wasn’t the only one. He said my paycheck would be fine as long as it had my Social Security number on it. Phew.

We then proceeded back into the courtroom and waited. He had 3 clients before me, so I got to see him in action beforehand. Just my luck, it was painfully obvious the magistrate hated him. She made snide remarks after almost everything he said. He didn’t have copies of anything she asked for – paycheck stubs, tax records, or bank statements. The letter he had sent a few weeks back stated to bring all of these with you, but didn’t mention bringing any extra copies. The three people ahead of me didn’t bother bringing anything. She didn’t seem too happy with him.

Finally it was my turn. I raised my right hand and swore that I was about to tell the truth. The driver’s license and paycheck stub were sufficient enough for her. She then asked if I too would have to mail in copies of my paperwork – since my lawyer had been so ill prepared. Because I’m anal, I brought the originals and copies of everything: it seemed to make her happy. I then answered the basic questions: Have you read the bankruptcy information? Is everything correct on your paperwork? Have you filed bankruptcy before? Do you realize the consequences of filing bankruptcy? Do you own any jewelry? Wait – she didn’t ask anyone else that question...I answered, “Yes, but nothing worth value”. She asked me if I sold all my jewelry how much I thought I would make. I said...“Oh, I don’t know, twenty bucks.” She laughed. I felt stupid. Yes, some people actually file bankruptcy because *gasp* we’re poor and in debt. She proceeded through the rest of the questions, and it was done. In total, I was probably up there maybe ten minutes.

So, there you go. Bankruptcy is pretty painless. It should be harder than that – otherwise, people would just do it again, and again, and...

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