[Dutch Lock Down Day Two Hundred Forty Nine]
TRIGGER WARNING This article or section, or pages it links to, contains information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors.
Oke, so remember When Life Hands You Lemons?
But first the news:
- Christmas options limited as infection rate stabilises, Rutte warns
- More Covid measures needed in schools, pediatrician says
- Third Dutch-supported vaccine shows promising results: up to 90% effective
Let’s start with the punchline, eh?
I forgot to pay a bill, it went to collections, then to small claims court.
The twist is that I was sick while all this was happening, so when I received the summons, I wasn’t surprised, just a bit disappointed.
The sucker punch is how triggering all the legal documents were.
I was involved in a criminal case AND a civil case in the States – the former dropped by a District Attorney, but not before a hearing judge ruled in my favour that there was enough evidence to go to trial, and the latter lasted five years.
The twenty-eight page summons, in Dutch, referencing €25,000, freaked me the fuck out.
I ran to a lawyer.
Who translated the whole thing. And gave me legal advice. And proposed next steps to resolve based on possible scenarios. For an hour. For free.
I could pay €203 by 13 December and the charges would be dropped.
Or I could go to court on 15 December to protest. And possibly pay an additional €124, depending on how the judge ruled.
I did research. Nope, totally no matching payment to Zalando (yup, this is over a pair of pants).
I paid double to the collections agency. In February.
I call the bailiff (the group taking me to court on behalf of Zalando). Can I speak English? No, I don’t have a reference number.
“It’s better if you email us.”
Fine. I email in English and Dutch. Here’s proof of payment. How do we move forward.
They reply within a few hours, “Client indicates that the payment was for another file.”
And I absolutely CRASH.
Crumble. To. The. Floor. HOWLING.
I haven’t cried like that in years. Not since the original trauma / trials / recovery.
P advises I just pay it.
But I’m crying because of the fucking injustice.
Is the Netherlands as corrupt and awful as the States?
I thought I lived in a safe, just, FAIR country?!?
I calm down a bit. I dry my tears. I work a bit. I walk a lot. I eat an entire box of chocolates.
And I reply, “Voor welk ander bestand was de betaling bedoeld? Ik heb geen enkele andere relatie of enige schuld aan Alektum, daarom kan de betaling alleen betrekking hebben op het enige dossier dat ze hebben voor ons huishouden.”
English: “What other file was the payment intended for? I have no other relationship of any debt to Alektum, therefore the payment can only relate to the only file they have for our household.”
By the end of the day, I’m no longer broken and bleeding, I’m PISSED with SWORD DRAWN.
And then I wrote that post.
That night I ruminated hard – was up for hours with a racing mind – just like when I was in the midst of the civil suit years ago – but this morning when the alarm went off, while I wasn’t exactly ripped out of bed, I growled, set my shoulders, and I’m ready to fight.
Over pants. Yeah.
But also, for a criminal case dropped because of “he said she said” bullshit in the state of Tenneessee. And for a civil case dropped because we ran out of money and wanted to move on with our lives.
Over the next week I called the collections agency, who refused to work with me regarding EITHER case because the one case was in small claims course. They told me one thing, but talking with the bailiff, I learned something else.
And no one would tell me what the paid off item of clothing was, only that it was purchased on a different date.
I had absolutely no proof that I wasn’t being charged TWICE for the same pair of goddamned €40 pants.
Last night one of my Dutch friends made the mistake of asking me how I was doing these days (Hi, E!) and I vomited the whole story AT them. Trying to stick to the facts. But SO frustrated at my lack of Dutch. At the justice system. At the collection agency. And those horrible pants.
And their partner, it turns out, took legal classes in high school.
(YOU CAN TAKE LEGAL CLASSES IN HIGH SCHOOL?!?)
They advised that I contact the original company to discuss the situation – perhaps my payments crossed with bills and this is all a huge mix up. Stores can then cancel collection cases when things like this happen.
It also occurs to me LAST NIGHT that I could look up my order history and see what bills are outstanding – and, just as I suspected, there’s only one. pair. of pants.
This morning I call.
And I attempt to speak only Dutch.
And I do well enough that when I ask to speak English, the person compliments me on my accent and how exceptional my Dutch was.
No one was lying or confused except me.
There was a pair of shoes.
Which were now marked as paid.
Because that payment, INDEED, covered those shoes. Not the pants.
And I was confused because I thought there was only one thing missing, which is why I received a summons for small claims court.
Made back to back.
Both sent to collections back to back.
When I was sick.
So I missed.
I sent the bailiff €203 referencing the dossier, then emailed them proof of payment with a request for confirmation.
Once the logic was clear, the payment was easy to make.
And everything’s done.
See, cause I’m still so totally going to unpack that trigger thing and the injustice thing and WOAH DAMN I lost my shit.
Also, I haven’t slept well for a week now, so we’ve got to get rid of that rumination habit that’s returned. So I can sleep again. And get up at five again. And return to ‘normal’ again.
Tomorrow morning I see the therapist.
To start the healing.
Now that justice is served.