Friday, October 29, 2010

A letter I didn't send to the mortgage company

Abraham Lincoln used to write scathing letters to his generals in the field, upbraiding them on strategy and tactics and whatever else was on his mind. Then he would lay the letters aside in a drawer, putting off the decision on whether to actually send them until the morrow. In most cases, the letters were never sent.

Yesterday I wrote a letter to my mortgage company and laid it to one side. Specifically I wrote to "Mr. Smith" -- oddly enough, not his real name -- at the Soulless Megabank (not its real name either). I read it to my wife instead and, in ages past, that probably would have been the end of it... but I have this blog... and I can share my letter, with all specific identification removed, with you instead....

Dear Mr. Smith:

I acknowledge your most recent dunning letter, dated October 22. This is the first one I’ve bothered to open. I only opened this one because October is about to end and I do not – and am not likely to – have your October mortgage payment before the calendar page turns.

This is not a matter of forgetfulness. I don’t really need robocalls to my house each and every day starting on the 15th of the month advising me that “there’s been a change in the status of my mortgage.” Do you think I don’t know? Do you think I’ve forgotten? And why do you call three or four times a day? Do you think I'll forget between 9:00am and 8:00pm that I owe you money? I’ve been paying on this mortgage since 1996 – paying a little ahead each and every month, in fact. There have been months when I’ve been late before, and yet you’ve always gotten your money in the past. Including your late fees. You will get your money this time too – as soon as I get it.

I am self-employed, Mr. Smith, and (unlike so many banks) when my customers don’t pay me – or when they take their sweet time in paying me – the Federal government does not provide me with large sums of cash to tide me over. I just have to wait. So, therefore, must you. I realize you may find this unsatisfactory. I’m not happy about it either. Perhaps you can take comfort in the fact that the Soulless Megabank is not alone in waiting for my receivables to mature into receipts: I have a drawer full of bills in the office and a desk full of bills at home, each of them with real and valid claims upon any funds that may straggle in. All will be paid as soon as funds become available – your October payment (as the oldest) first of all. If this provides inadequate assurance, please send me your home phone number so I can call your home three and four times a day, dinnertime included, and repeat this promise for you.

Very truly yours,


No comments: