Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Nevertheless, She Persisted: A Story

Full disclosure: This story does not paint me in a very positive light. However, I want to share it with you because I'm curious to see if you think I went too far or what you would have done in my situation.

First, a little backstory: In 2015 I was turning right at a stoplight. The light was green, but there was a pedestrian on a bicycle, so I was stopped waiting for them to get across the street. I got rear-ended. Hard. We pulled off into the parking lot of a little flower shop. This was my first accident ever and I wasn't sure about procedure. I called my mom first to ask what I should do. She told me to call the police so I did. While on the phone with the police the other guy asked me not to call them because their car wasn't registered. I said I'm sorry, but they're already on their way. When I turned around to get my registration and insurance information from my glove box, they took off. I didn't have a license plate number or anything. Because I didn't immediately take pictures of his license plate as soon as I got of the car I ended up paying nearly $1000 ($500 deductible and almost $500 for the rental car) for something that wasn't even my fault. Lesson learned.

February 28, 2017

I walk out from work to the parking lot and find my front bumper almost completely ripped off my car. There was a name and a phone number on the car and I called to talk to the guy who did it. He said he wanted to pay for the damages instead of going through his insurance so his premium wouldn't go up. I asked him if he would pay for my rental car and he said he would. My co-workers pulled the bumper off by the one screw that was still holding it on and stuck it in my backseat. I drove to the repair shop, got an estimate, and got a ride home. They told me they wouldn't start work on the car until I gave the go-ahead. I called to get an estimate for the rental car.

March 1, 2017

My friend picked me up in the morning and took me to work. During my shift the guy in question came over and wrote me a check for $2135 to cover the expenses of the repair ($1985) and the rental car ($150). I told him I would deposit the check and as soon as the check cleared I'd authorize them to start work on the car. I got my rental car from Alamo after work and deposited the check on the way home. I asked how long it would take to clear and she said a couple days.

March 3, 2017

The check cleared and I authorized them to begin work on the car. They estimated 4-5 days for the repair. I texted the guy to let him know work was beginning as well as scanning in the copies of the estimates for his records.

March 9, 2017

I call to check on the car and I'm told I can pick the car up on Monday.

March 13, 2017

It's Monday. I call on the car and there's been a snag. Apparently there was a crease in the new bumper that they missed and they were almost done with the repair. They had to get a new bumper installed without that crease.

March 17, 2017

I return my rental car and take the bus to go pick up my car.

March 30, 2017

I scan in my receipts for the repair and the rental car and send him this email:

Hey (omitted),

Sorry it took so long for me to get this stuff to you, I've been super busy. I picked up my car on the 17th. Since I had to keep the rental for an extra week I was wondering if you could just send me a check for the difference in the mail and we can be done with this whole messy business. I've attached the receipts for the repair and the rental. The final prices are as follows:

1,985.00 - Repair Estimate
+150.00 - Rental Estimate
=2,135.00 Total - Check from you

2,135.00 - From you
- 1,980.33 - Actual Repair Cost
- 316.07 - Actual Rental Cost
= 161.40 - Difference Owed

My address:

Thank you for your cooperation in solving this matter. Have a nice day.

April 8, 2017

I haven't heard from him and haven't received a check so I send him this text:

Hey (omitted) did you get my email? You owe me a little more for the rental car. I sent you an email with scanned copies of the final costs. It had my address so you can send me a check.

I never heard from him, so I sent this same text multiple times a day over the next couple days.

April 12, 2017

I know you are getting my text messages and purposefully ignoring me. I get it, you paid to get the car fixed and you want to be done with this matter. Well guess what? Me too. You were in the wrong here. You're the one who busted my car while I was at work. You said you'd take care of the car and the rental car. Well the car is taken care of, but the rental car is not. I sent you these documents 2 weeks ago and I want what is owed to me. Just in case you really have no idea what I'm talking about I've attached them again as well as the email I sent to you:

Hey (omitted),

Sorry it took so long for me to get this stuff to you, I've been super busy. I picked up my car on the 17th. Since I had to keep the rental for an extra week I was wondering if you could just send me a check for the difference in the mail and we can be done with this whole messy business. I've attached the receipts for the repair and the rental. The final prices are as follows:

1,985.00 - Repair Estimate
+150.00 - Rental Estimate
=2,135.00 Total - Check from you

2,135.00 - From you
- 1,980.33 - Actual Repair Cost
- 316.07 - Actual Rental Cost
= 161.40 - Difference Owed

My address:

I want you to know that I am prepared to make a nuisance of myself until you cooperate. I'll give you the rest of the day today to think about things, but starting tomorrow all hell breaks loose. I am prepared to call you every hour on the hour until you either A) Pick up and assure me you will send the check. B) Text me and assure me you will send the check. C) Ignore me, but send the check anyway. As soon as the check is in my hands, the calls will stop.

I know what you're thinking. It'll be easy enough to ignore me. Just turn off your ringer and let me wear myself out. Well, know this. I KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE. (omitted) That's right. I took a picture of your original check and it has your address on it buddy. You have one week from tomorrow for a check to appear in my mailbox before I show up at your home and knock on your door until you write me one. It would really be a lot easier for both of us if you just texted me back and said the check is on its way. Since you didn't seem to mind writing a check for over $2,000, I think a check for $161.40 should be small change to you.
You've been warned. I'll talk to you tomorrow.

After sending the email I also sent him this text:

I know you probably think you've got out of something by not paying me what is owed to me. However, I'd highly recommend checking your email for an email from me. Tomorrow all hell breaks loose and I promise you'll want to stop it before it begins. You've been warned.

(NOTE: I know it's bitchy, but I was pissed. This guy had been ignoring me for weeks and I was sick of it.)

April 13, 2017

I follow through on my promise and call six times before I get this email:

Hi HollySorry for late replying. I was super busy at this a couple of weeks. I got your email, text, and phone call. Actually I don't think it's fair to you'll asking more money from me. Especially extend rental car fee. I gave you check right next day in the morning day after you take your car to fix auto.  It's way more quicker and enough amounts of money than insurance company approves.As I remember due to your neglect response cause fix auto to delay finish your car.I talk to Jimmy about your car's damage also. The conditions of damage he described and I took pictures with security ware quite different. It's ok I'll pay for it. But what you asking me more money isn't fair. Even if you are upset, your behavior right now isn't appropriate.Have a nice day.

Here is my response:


That's fine that you feel that way, but you were the one who agreed to pay for the rental car in the first place. When I got the estimate for the rental car I estimated for one week of use hoping the the fix would get done quickly, but you and I both knew that it could change based on how quickly they were able to fix the car. Unfortunately they ran into some problems. It turns out the first bumper they got had a crease in it and they didn't discover that till it was almost completely finished. So they basically had to start over. That's why the repair took so long. Not due to a delayed response from me. I waited exactly 2 days for them to start work on the car and that was strictly to make sure your check had cleared. I'm sure you can understand that. If I had authorized them to start work on the car immediately and your check had bounced I would have been responsible for paying for all of it, and there would have been no going back to use insurance either. It was the smart thing to do. I'm not sure why you think the damage to the car was different than when you were there. I've got pictures too of how I found my car in the parking lot. I've attached them below, since you seem to think I'm lying. 

You're right. I am upset. I walked out of work one day to find my front bumper lying on the ground and having to deal with the headache of insurance, repairs, and rental cars. If you were in my shoes, you'd probably be upset too. Then to be completely ignored when I'm trying to get what YOU promised me for the accident YOU caused, that makes me even more upset. I'm sorry you think my behavior is inappropriate, but I think going back on your word is inappropriate behavior and I guess that's something we're just going to have to agree to disagree on.

(NOTE: Yes. That is highlighted for a reason. You'll see)

April 28, 2017

I send this text:

I still have not received your check.

May 1, 2017

I receive this text:

Miss understanding, I thought you understood my statement. I'll remind you I won't pay extra money to you. Even your pictures show no damage grille and headlight, it's just came off, but I talk to jimmy he says he didn't see it. What did you do it? Also bumper and partially chassis was already damaged and you told me never had accident. Who lied? I paid already more than my responsibilities. Also if you see your picture why you park your car so close to me and crooked? Remind you extra money you asking to me isn't my responsibility.

(NOTE: He very clearly said he would pay. I didn't ask specifics on what the repair shop was going to do to my car. I just assumed they were going to fix whatever was broken. Also I highly doubt that this guy was in contact with Jimmy while the repairs were going on. As far as I know he had one conversation with him, through my phone, while I was present. My car has never been in an accident on the front end, at least not while in my possession. Here are a couple pictures for your reference of my parking job. Also if you've even been in Simba Parking lot I can guarantee you've seen parking jobs a lot worse than mine, and they all somehow manage to get home with their bumpers intact.)

I'm going to go ahead and omit my initial response text which was quite angry and aggressive and foul. Needless to say there was a lot of swearing and fury. Once I calmed down marginally I took a screenshot of that email from above and said "Oh yeah, I totally misunderstood when you literally said you'd pay for it." I also reminded him that I still knew where he lived and would be happy to make myself comfortable on his front porch reading a book till he was ready to pay me.

Honestly by this point I was calling the whole thing a lost cause. I never expected to see that money which was why I was very surprised to receive a text from him later in the afternoon saying to see him tomorrow if I wanted a check from him. He said he'd contact me and I said just let me know when and where.

May 2, 2017

This morning he asks me to meet him at a McDonald's at 9:00 AM and I agree. The whole way there I'm thinking about how this is somehow I trap. I was preparing for every situation: he brought a lawyer to file a restraining order, he called the police to arrest me for stalking or harassment, he got some of his buddies to hide nearby to cause some real damage to my car while he was distracting me inside. At the very least I assumed we'd have an argument before we came to some sort of agreement. Instead, the one thing I never thought would happen did. I walked in, sat down. He handed me $160 cash and asked me to sign a document saying it was the final payment. I signed it, said "Thank you very much." and walked out the door.

I went to the Chase across the street and deposited it right away. I have no idea what changed his mind. Maybe he wanted to just be done with the matter and I had already proven that I could be a pain in the butt when needed so he just didn't want to deal with me anymore. I don't know, and I really don't care. I got what was promised to me in the end. I may have had to be a bitch to get it, but it's done.

I can't help but realize how he was victim blaming me in all this. I always thought of that as something somewhat exclusive to sexual assault crimes, but this showed me it's not. Somehow he was determined to make this my fault. I waited too long for them to start work on the car. I lied about previous damage. I parked crooked. It was all my fault according to him. So I'm interested, what do you guys think?

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Depression: Stop the Stigma

It's like I'm handcuffed to my couch and there is a drill sergeant in my face. He's screaming at me everything on my to do list as I struggle to get off the couch. No matter how much I try or how much I want to, I can't seem to get off the couch and get anything done.

This is how I described the depression I've been experiencing for the last year to my doctor. She put me on antidepressants on January 20th, of all days. I guess it takes a few weeks before I'll start to see any changes, so I'm waiting impatiently for that day to come. For the last year I have had an extremely difficult time doing basic household tasks like cooking and cleaning. My apartment looks like a tornado went through it most of the time. When I'm not at work I spend the majority of my time on my couch binge-watching TV shows on Netflix or playing video games. I've put off laundry, grocery shopping, and getting gas in my car for days until it got so dire that I was forced to. My sleep has been erratic. Sometimes I sleep a lot, much more than I should. Other times I can't sleep very well at all and only get a few hours of sleep at a time. The thing that is worst of all, is that I can't read. If you know me at all, you know how ludicrous that sounds. Just this month alone I've started 5 different books and haven't been able to make it past the 5th chapter in any of them before I lost interest. Most of these were books I've read before and I know I love.

I've heard a lot about the stigma attached to mental illness over the years. Having never experienced it or really known anybody who had I didn't realize that I was part of the problem. I've been struggling with the depression for (at least) a year that I know of. I kept it to myself for a long time. I finally confided in my mom when I realized I had a problem. I went through the Employee Assistance Program at my work and saw a therapist a few times. I told only a handful of close friends about my difficulties. I didn't want people to know that I was depressed. Why? Can you imagine having strep throat and not going to a doctor for antibiotics for over a year? It's crazy!

I've had a few friends stick up their nose at the idea of my taking antidepressants. I think they truly hope it will help me, but they expressed their disdain for this type of medication assuring me they would never take it themselves. I get it. I never thought I would have to, to be honest. I've always been a happy, optimistic, and generally good-natured person. I never thought depression would be a part of my life, but now it is.

2016 was a bad year for a lot of us. For me it was personally bleak because of the depression I was suffering from, the news that my father only had months to live, my deep unhappiness at my main venue at work, and of course the election. When I got home from my Christmas vacation this year things got worse. I called my mom and had a complete breakdown on the phone. It was so bad that she felt she had to ask me if she needed to worry about me doing anything stupid like a suicide attempt. I assured her that I was not that bad, but that really woke me up. I set up an appointment with my doctor and am finally taking care of the problem.

I am not asking for sympathy. In fact, that's the last thing I want. This post is just to share my story so that others who may be feeling the same way will go forward and get help. You don't have to go through this alone. Talk to your friends, your family, your pastor, a therapist, or me. See your doctor and if they think you should be on medication, take your medication without fear of other people's judgement. I almost started crying in my doctor's office when she said she was writing me a prescription because I was so relieved. I have been struggling with this for so long and it finally feels like I'm taking my life back. Don't wait to take back yours. Depression is nothing to be ashamed of. It just took me a while to realize that.

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Divided States of America

It's 12:14 PM. I shouldn't be awake right now. I got home home from work around 6:30 this morning and went to bed around 7:30. Something must have woken me up around 11:30 and I fruitlessly tried to go back to sleep. This is happening a lot recently. As soon as I'm awake my stomach clenches and my mind starts churning with the worries I feel for my country. Maybe that sounds dramatic, but it is true nonetheless. I know this may surprise you, but I'm not a particularly political person. In fact I hate politics. I find them quite dull and uninteresting and in general, well, I guess I just don't care that much. So why is it that this election cycle I couldn't help but be more invested than I was with the previous elections? I think the answer is that I was forced to be.

My entire adult life Barack Obama has been my president. The first time I was able to vote was in 2008. Being a new voter and generally uninterested in politics, I didn't do a whole lot of research. I went to one of those websites where you put in your views and it tells you who you match with best and at what percentage. Obama was the winner. I didn't watch debates or campaign speeches. I didn't review policies or plans. I certainly didn't look into any of the other people on the ballot. I think I just figured since I matched with Obama, that meant I was a Democrat and just voted for all democrats based on that. In 2012 I was happy with what Obama had done in four years and I wanted to see how much more progress he could make with four more and I voted for him again. For the past eight years I haven't had to worry much about politics because I felt reassured that I was in good hands.

When the campaigns for 2016 began I didn't know or care who was running. I never cared before, so why start now? Then I started seeing things on Facebook about Donald Trump running. At first I thought it was a joke. In some ways I'm still waiting for Ashton Kutcher to jump out and yell "You've been Punk'd America!" Honestly at first I just didn't pay much attention, as is my usual way with political posts, but soon things started catching my attention. The longer the campaign went on and the more things I heard and saw from Trump the more worried I became. For the first time, I began researching politics, because I had to. I could tell that this election was far more important than the previous two.

In the case of the previous elections I felt secure that even if Obama didn't win, the other candidate was competent enough to run the country, even if I didn't agree with them on all of their political stances. That was not the case in 2016. Trump was one of the least (if not the least) qualified candidates running on either side. He had no political experience. He had basically no plans in place for how he would carry out all of these promises he was making. And worst of all he ran a campaign that was fueled by lies and hate.

Well, in November the country spoke and while Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly three million votes, Donald Trump was going to be our next president. I'm not going to talk about the days following the election because I've already discussed that.

Instead I want to talk about January 21, 2017. I want to talk about the Women's March on Washington DC. As most of you probably know I participated in a sister march in Santa Ana with about 20,000 people in attendance. It was my first political protest and I was so proud to stand up for my beliefs and march with my fellow brothers and sisters in the hope of a better tomorrow. I was proud. Then I saw the messages of hate on Facebook and news articles and I was discouraged that so many people didn't understand why we were marching. So if it's okay with you I'd like to address some of the questions and statements I saw in regards to the Women's March though this article puts things much more eloquently than I ever could.

What are you even marching for? Women have the same rights as men.

You're not wrong...

Women legally have the same rights as men. We all have the right to vote. We have the right own property, the right to bear arms, and many other constitutional rights that we share. But that does not mean we are equal. The gender pay gap is not a myth and I believe women should have the right to equal pay for doing equal work. We currently have the right to safe and legal abortions if that is our choice, but Trump has already declared his intention to repeal Roe vs. Wade so we no longer have that right. Rape and sexual assault are illegal in this country, but that doesn't stop it from happening to one out of every four women. In America a woman is raped every two minutes. Why? Because what's stopping them? Not our justice system, that's for sure. Look at Brock Turner who was caught in the act, given a light sentence, and then didn't even complete the minimum time of that sentence. And that's just one story.

...But you're not right either.

In addition to the above rights for women, we also marched for equality for everyone, yes even Trump supporters, even if they didn't want us to. One of the most common signs I saw at the march I attended as well as photos I saw from the many marches around the world said something like this:

Women's Rights are Human Rights
Climate Change is Real
Immigrants make America Great
Black Lives Matter
Love is Love

This sign easily sums up everything that we were marching for. We were marching for equal rights for all people. Trump's campaign threatened the lives of many marginalized groups and that was who we marched for, regardless of whether we were in those marginalized groups or not. 

Trump has only been president for one day, what are you so mad about?

One thing I keep seeing constantly from Republicans is the sentiment that Trump is now our president and there is nothing we can do about it, so we just have to get over it and respect the position he holds. Here's the thing, we do respect the position he holds, we just don't respect the man himself, and can you blame us? He has given us no reason to. He does not take the position he holds seriously as his Twitter account confirms.

I think you guys think we want Trump to fail. You couldn't be further from the truth. We DESPERATELY want him to succeed in making positive changes for every American. We just don't expect him to. He has had a lot of chances to prove that he is going to work on behalf of all Americans and he's thrown away every one of them. His response to the over 3 million women and men who marched in the name of equality? Where were these people in November? Why didn't they vote? Um...we did, which was why Hillary won the popular vote by 3 million votes. That's all he had to say about it. Not, "I see you. I hear you. I promise I will fight for you." Do you understand? This is why so many are disheartened heading into these next four years. We have a president who refuses to acknowledge us even after we managed the largest demonstration in US history.

Respect is earned and so far, Donald Trump hasn't done much to earn mine. In his first days in office the Trump administration has removed the climate change page from the White House website as well as removing health care, civil rights, and LGBT sections. In the first White House press conference of his presidency, his press secretary lied to the American people, and about the crowd size at his inauguration of all things. Then the counselor to the president defended the lie calling it instead an "alternative fact." And we are only a few days into his presidency...

Why do you want to kill babies!?

This is something I would love to have a conversation with you about if you are interested. Here is what I want you to understand. Pro-choice individuals aren't fighting because they want to kill babies, they are fighting for their right to choose. If a man gets a woman pregnant, he can walk away from that pregnancy and not look back. Access to safe and legal abortions is the equivalent of that same right for women. Now, for my own personal safe, I tend to lean pro-life. I'd like to think that if for some reason I had an unwanted pregnancy I would carry to term and give the child up for adoption. However, I can't say for sure that if I was raped I would ever want to see that child. This is why I think that each woman has a right to make the best choice for herself.

Why are you even bothering protesting? It's not going to do anything.

You're right. Protests don't change laws, but they may change hearts or minds. A protest is a way to show unity against injustice. It's to make a statement and regardless of how you feel about the Women's Marches I think we did at least make a statement. The reason we bothered protesting was because we believe in equality and we wanted to stand together to show the new administration that we are not going to let them take our rights away without a fight.

Contrary to our name, our country is not united. We are a people at war. This is a virtual war with insults slung at both sides, propaganda, false news, bigotry, aggression, intolerance, fear, and hate. It is our job as American citizens, no, as human beings, to find a common ground in which we can stand together. I know how difficult a task this is. I feel sick inside when I read some of the hate-filled messages I see on Facebook and Twitter as well as comments on news articles. I'm sure you feel the same way about some of the things you read. If we don't want to see a civil war in our lifetime, we are going to have to push past that gut instinct to yell at each other that we're right and you're wrong. We're going to have to have real discussions. Hard discussions. I think if we do this we'll find that we have more in common than we realized. It's not going to be easy and I know at times we're going to want to throw our hands up in the air and wash our hands of it all, but we can't. Our country and our freedoms and our lives are too important.

So here I am. I want to have a discussion with you. Ask me questions. Tell me your concerns. Tell me why you voted for Trump. Try to make me understand. I will do the same for you and hopefully we can find some common ground to stand on. Hopefully we can start healing the wounds of this country one mutually respectful conversation at a time. Instead of throwing insults at each other, let's throw questions. Let's throw concerns. Let's show what it means to be a part of the UNITED States of America.