Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Today, I was e-mailing a friend, and I had one of those senior moments that I swear I'm too young for and about one of the most unlikely to occur to me - a misspelled word (gasp!). Now please do not think me arrogant...I was just born with this particular gift. Those of you who can clean a house, decorate, sew, make biscuits, or stay thin...well...you possess gifts that I do not have. So there. And just like when you occasionally burn a pan of biscuits, gain a pound, or leave gradu in the sink...I find temporarily being unable to grasp the spelling of a word somewhat disconcerting.

Anyway, the word in question was...(what was it?)...(hold on...calling C)...OH YEAH...irresistible. How hard is THAT? Um...not very.

However, in consulting the Yodas at Merriam-Webster...the coverless yellowed dictionary that I have carried through my working life since 1990...I came to the realization that just putting "IR" in front of something either changes it, or makes it the direct opposite of the word following it. For instance, the word irrelevant makes it...NOT relevant. Same with irregular.

And then...as I was pondering all of the words that start with "ir" and noting how interesting it was to myself (for entertainment purposes since I am a word junkie),I came upon one of my least favorite words in the English language...irregardless. My distaste for this word is that it just seems to be one of those non-words that is also redundant...like saying "two twins" or "yellow jaundice" or something.

My memory of the word is primarily due to its overuse by a former coworker of mine when I was a consumer loan collector. It was used so frequently that the hair stood up on the back of my neck...something that is normally just reserved for things like fingernails on a chalkboard, liver, and Peeps.

Now, if the thought of me as a loan collector shocks you...you should also know that I was one of the best collectors in the department at the time...at age 24. This is particularly notable because I also had the past due "unsecured loans" in my portfolio. So, I was trying to convince people that were probably not paying for things that were probably more important...like their house, mobile home, cookware or car... that I needed to be paid too.

The only other female collector...I'll just call her Patsy (because that was her name)...would be on the phone with some poor soul who was unable to make his car payment and I'd hear..."Well, irregardless of the fact that you say you are making a partial payment today...it is too late...we're picking up your car." She even used it on the lady who came in with a tube top and flip flops on with her two kids that looked like the "Lost Boys" in Peter Pan and about dang near as wild when she said..."Irregardless of the fact that you paid all of your payments, you still owe us for the force-placed insurance."

Irregardless...for those of you who are going "what is her deal?"...is supposed to be just simply - "regardless". We don't have to put the "ir" on it to make it relevant.

Yep, my days as a loan collector were fairly entertaining. Among my personal favorite people was one of our secretaries...who will remain nameless...who had some interesting things to say just about every day. Some of the more memorable included the fact that she referred to her feet as "fetuses" as in, "ooh girl, my fetuses are hurting from these cheap shoes." Or..."I have to go to the doctor to get some testes run." She wasn't kidding...and I just kept a straight face and walked away before I exploded in laughter...on a daily basis.

Part of my success as a collector had to be attributed to the fact that I just talked them to death. If I ever got one to the phone, I was just nice to them. In fact, over time, I even began to know the voices of the extended family members who would think that I was pitiful and would get their loved one to the phone...because I wasn't yelling. More than once, I'd be on the phone when I'd be alerted to the fact that someone had just brought me the keys to some sad little automobile with smoke billowing out of the back and a cracked windshield. This was to save them from having to pay the repo man fees since I somehow convinced them that a voluntary repossession was far better than the regular kind. Yep, I had more repos barking up the lot than any other collector...but it did save us the phone call to the repo man. At one point, we actually ran out of parking space in the deck in trying to accommodate what looked like a car lot operated by Mad Maxx or someone.

The majority of them...upon meeting me for the first time...would be totally shocked...not just by my appearance...but by the fact that my name was "Karen Mixon" instead of "Carolyn Nixon." This was usually discovered as they read the nameplate on my desk. The majority of them still called me "Mizz Nixon" - which suited me fine - as I figured if someone went off the deep end they would be unable to find me in the phone book and go postal in my driveway or something. Not that that stopped an attorney several years later via phone...but that's another story for another day.

Yes...Carolyn Nixon...Loan Collector. Good times.

I only did this particular job for a year, and found that it actually was quite interesting. I only was threatened verbally one time and cussed out fewer than five. All in all it was nothing like the show "Repo Man" which I suppose is primarily because I just picked up the phone and someone else picked up the car. Worked for me. Getting cussed out was even entertaining. Especially when they'd start talking about my Mama...like that would cause me to get on the stump or something. I figured that if they actually had met my Mama...they'd realize what complete idiots they sounded like.

I was blessed to work with people that were also quite entertaining IRREGARDLESS (egad) of the fact that we really hated calling the same customers every month to come pay for their stupid ragged out automobiles. One of my particular favorites - I'll just call him Earl - had tires on his car that were worth more than what he owed us. He wanted them off the car when we picked it up the third time. Um...no, "O Brilliant One"...we're keeping those...AND your 8 track tape collection.

Then there was the lady who paid all right...the phone exchange went something like this:

MAINTENANCE: Um, Mrs. Mixon, I believe that one of your customers has attempted to get her payment to you today...

ME: Really? Great. It's the end of the month and...

MAINTENANCE: You can come pick up the envelope if you want...Diebold had to come and get it out of the ATM where she stuck the wad of bills. I have no idea how long it must have taken her to cram it in there.

ME: Diebold?


I kid you not. One of my customers had crammed a wad of bills into where the cards go in an ATM. It cost the bank about $400 to fix the machine. I figured that her investment in time at least constituted a waiver of her latest late fee. I still laugh about that. If they ever start a "Hall of Fame" for deadbeats...that one act should firmly guarantee her place in history.

Part of the reason that I remember this lady so vividly is that she would give her name and and address followed by "you know me?" Every time. She also had a very high pitched voice so it was..."Mizz Nixon...this is Mary Smith at 440 Main Street...you know me?" Well, yes, I did. And years later, when doing a church loan as a commercial lender at another bank, I got a call from "Ms. Smith" who wanted to thank me for loaning money to her church. I kid you not. And YES...I did know her and I also knew that she had not moved in the intervening ten years that had passed between the two exchanges.

Anyway, one of these days I'll tell you about one of my fellow loan collectors. He was hysterical.

So, irregardless or irrespective of your irregular irritation of the overuse of IR...I hope that you learned something interesting today. Seriously...remember...REGARDLESS...not IRREGARDLESS. Don't make me get on the stump. Later!

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