My Secret Life Tracking Down Debtors
Only in America does a friendly substitute teacher with a mountain of medical debt spend her nights serving summonses to other desperate people like herself.
“I hope my dog fucking bites you on your way out!”
The suburban housewife I’ve just served with a court summons yells that to my back as I hurry down the steps of her house.
When she first answered the door, the woman, a blonde in her 30s, had been friendly. I didn’t expect any problems, even though I’d noticed her dog barking its head off and hurling its big, dirty-white body against the front window. As I handed over the summons, the smile on her face quickly disappeared. And once I heard her threat, I didn’t linger, since I didn’t want to feel the dog’s sharp, snarling teeth tearing at my clothes or flesh. I also didn’t want to risk making this woman even angrier than she already was. I mean, she told me in person that she wanted to sic her dog on me. I don’t mess around with that.
I quickly get in my little gray Honda Accord, which is parked on the street. That’s not very “Minnesota Nice,” I think with a smirk. I turn the key in the ignition to give the impression that I’m leaving. I’m going, I’m going … don’t chase after me! But before stepping on the gas, I quickly snap a photo of the front of the woman’s house through the passenger side window, to prove that I’ve been there — a job requirement.
By day, I’m a substitute teacher, teaching K–12 students in Minnesota’s public schools. But in the evening, I moonlight as a process server, driving to debtors’ houses to serve them with court summonses notifying them that they’re being sued for unpaid bills. The debtors often look surprised to see me standing on their doorsteps: a petite young woman (I’m 5-foot-4) sporting a neat dark-brown bob, nerdy black plastic-frame glasses, and casual attire more befitting a soccer mom who shops at Loft than someone stealthily hunting down bill-evaders. I’m friendly, polite and seem harmless; they have no idea I’m going to thrust legal papers into their hands.
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