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Today was a very interesting day. I had to go with my mother to court. She sued a woman in small claims court. Heed my warning, if you see someone in Elmwood Park advertising her cleaning business, run in the other direction. Not only does she charge you $150.00 under the table so she doesn’t have to pay taxes, but she is a con artist. While my mother didn’t ask her to clean her house, my mother did however sell her dining room set to this woman. My mother is downsizing furniture and put an ad in the paper listing her dining room.  This woman called and wanted to come and see it. When she arrived to my mother’s condo, she had to have it right away. She loved it. She drove back home (30 minutes away) to get a truck to be able to have the furniture that same day. She gave my mother cash money and then wrote a check for $400.00. They took the furniture outside in the rain and placed in their truck. Whether they tied it down or had bungee cords no one knows. Something must have happened from the time they took it from my mother’s to their home. The next day this woman stopped payment on her $400.00 check and demanded my mother take the furniture back. Her daughter called my mother saying her mother didn’t like the way it looked in the dining room and that the goods were damaged. RIIIIIGHT! Because my mother wouldn’t take it back because all sales were final, she stopped payment on the check. She called my mother multiple times saying she wanted her to take the furniture back. I’m sorry when you buy something out of a newspaper, you can’t bring it home, try it out for size, and if you don’t like it, bring it back. This is NOT a clothing store people! Some individuals have SUCH nerve. The woman was not about to give my mother the money owed under any circumstances. My mother filed a police report and was told by her town police department that was theft. My mother filed a suit with the Bergen County Court for Small Claims. The court date was today. The funny thing was this woman lied through teeth at the courthouse but yet still had the $400.00 in cash that she owed my mother in her wallet. What does that tell you? If you had the money owed in your wallet ready to be disbursed, you knew you weren’t going to win. You knew you were wrong, but yet you tried to get away with it anyway. In addition, she wanted an Albanian interpretator when she spoke English to my mother at her house. Nothing against Albanians because one of my very good friends is Albanian, but you are going to use a language barrier as a crutch when you know you were WRONG? She started telling the arbitrators that my mother was harassing her and made her pregnant daughter faint. *CAN YOU HEAR THE SOAP OPERA MUSIC PLAYING IN THE BACKGROUND PEOPLE?*  She also said when she looked at the furniture it was dark outside. EH! Wrong! Try again! It was 2 p.m. She also said she can barely feed her daughter and didn’t have enough money to cover the $400.00 check and that’s why she stopped payment. If one doesn’t have enough money, why does one drive around in a new Mercedes Truck and offer up information that she paid cash for a down payment on a home?  Any other lies you want to try to tell to get yourself off the hook? Spare me the Latrell Spreewell speech about having to feed your family when you are making money under the table and driving around in a Mercedes Truck!

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After that phone call I was beyond livid. We went back up to the bank. I started raising my voice to “Barbara” and telling her what the Assistant Director of the SBA said. It was one of those “Uh Uh” moments. She reverted back to how the business isnt making any money. At that point, all I heard was noise – think of the teacher voice on Charlie Brown. That was a dead end obvioulsy.

Months passed and our financial situation got worse. We got a phone call from our realtor. She told us she had a local woman interested in the gym and wanted to know if I could drop her off an extra key and some paperwork. Unlike “Kevin” I  provided a REAL member number list. A little background on this prospective buyer – Think Jersey Shore (tv show) looking with a British accent, what guys would call a “bangin bod,” long nails polished, a lot of makeup, VERY rich and possibly an entire bottle of perfume.  We will call her “Lizzy.” Early on our attorney called her a “tire kicker” and that is exactly what she turned out to be. She kept us on the hook for nine months. Every phone call, whether we spoke to her or her husband, they wanted more and more information and more time. The last phone call we received from them they wanted us to wait longer because they wanted to refinance their house to get extra money for the purchase. Can you even believe it? People this is my life. You can’t make this up. WHY ME? She told us they needed two months and that they wanted us to hold membership steady at the number it was at which at that point I think was about 185 members. We held steady for the two months and never heard from them. Membership started declining even more again due to members losing their jobs or what have you. When we called to get a status update and told her we had the membership steady for two months and never heard from her and how membership declined more, there was dead silence on the other end of the phone. After the silence, she again asked us to wait longer. We gave her a deadline and said if we didn’t hear from her we would have to shut the gym down because we just couldn’t do it on our end anymore.

In addition to the stress of a failing business and a strained marriage, my father was in and out of the hospital from a heart attack, additional chest pains, getting a stent put in, and bleeding. Could it possibly have gotten any worse? It did. I had a pet cockatiel for 14 years. She fell off her perch and started twitching her head. We took her to the vet and the poor bird was a nervous wreck shaking. Not sure if you know anything about cockateils but they get very attached to their owners and don’t like being in strange places. The vet gave us antibiotics that had to be administered with an eye dropper like tool. I hate vets. No offense to any out there. It’s just I have friends that have many animals and every time they took their pets to vets, it wasn’t long after that the pets passed away. My bird was never 100% again but she was ok for a while.

“Lizzy”, my father, and my bird situations happened from the end of 2007 on through almost the end of 2008. Again I said it couldn’t get any worse. Yet another domino fell. On Novemebr 15, 2008 I received a phone call from my full-time job telling me they were laying people off due to the lack of work because of the floundering economy. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This is happening again NOW?  While I was still working for the company, our department was taken over by a young woman, who honestly had no clue about what we did in this specific aspect. My old boss got a promotion and went to another department. A few times this new woman suggested stuff and it was like “uh yeah we already were doing that.” Anyone that is a woman and works for a woman knows how catty some of them can be especially if they feel threatened because you actually know more than they do and they are supposed to be the boss. In any case, I was once again being layed off in the midst of a failing business. Thank God for unemployment. It was at that time my husband and I had a long talk and said we had enough. That’s when we decided we weren’t waiting for the tire kicker anymore and to now more than ever get control over this.

On the same day I lost my job, I registered for the Praxis II Exam to become an English Teacher. My test was scheduled for a Saturday in March 2009. Years ago when I wasn’t really into the profession I took the test twice because I was working at the first company in another department where I was getting up at 3 a.m. and I needed to get out because it was killing me.  The two times I took the test I didn’t get the score I needed. When I took the test the first two times, I was still at that “I deserve- wooo is me” phase so I really didn’t care if I passed it or not.


 “Kevin” claimed the gym had been on the market for $125,000 and he had a deal in place but it fell through. He said the former prospective buyer kept dragging his feet and seemed like a shady character. The former buyer was a shady character? “Kevin” made Fabin from Oliver look like saint. Talk about picking pockets! “Kevin” commented that because we were his patients that he would sell it to us for such a “great price.”

As we were discussing the possibility of buying the business, “Kevin’s” phone rang. It was his wife. After having a minute of personal conversation, he began to tell her about our interest in the fitness facility. He told her how he offered it to us at the “great price.” It seemed his wife had offered the facility at the same “great price” to the current manager at the gym. The manager had apparently not come back with an answer yet. She was having her accountant look into it. Despite of the offer made to someone else, he presented us with a Letter of Intent and said, “Whoever gets back to me first with paperwork and the deposit will get it.”

That statement was kind of odd. A business deal should not be a race. How did he not know his wife offered the facility to someone? Was there a lack of communication between them? He handed us the Letter of Intent and asked that we touch base with him soon. We stood up, thanked him, and left. It wasn’t until we got in the car that we looked at the Letter of Intent which stated that he wanted a $10,000.00 deposit within two business days, the buyer to pay his transfer fee of $3,000 to the corporation, and to pay the attorney fees the landlord would incur to either transfer the lease over to us, or make a lease that assigned “Kevin” as the individual to sublet. We both started questioning where we would get $99,000. We had nothing at that point except $14,000.00 in a savings account to go toward a down payment on a house. We didn’t own property. I just found out I lost my job and was being transferred to another department again. In our minds, if we took out a loan for a so called profitable business, we could treat it like a mortgage payment. It would give us practice. We would make extra payments on the principle from the profits of the business to get it paid off faster. But the business had to stay and be profitable or this wasn’t going to work.

Every bank I called inquired if we owned a home or if anyone could co-sign for us. We didn’t own a home. The two cars we had were paid off but weren’t worth anything. Both of us had over 100,000 miles on our vehicles. Each bank I spoke with acknowledged our high FICO scores but stated that without collateral, there wasn’t anything they could do. It seemed everyone was concerned about the almighty dollar or what you had to back a loan. No one asked about the income on the business. At that point, it seemed no one would qualify us for a loan. We should have taken that as another red flag but we didn’t. However, I was on a mission. With my department shutting down, I had to make something happen before transferring to the new department. I wanted out of Corporate America and all the political and cut throat bullshit that was associated with it. I started performing searches on the internet. I typed ‘How to receive a no collateral loan’ and ‘no collateral loans’ in the search area. I came upon a website for a company we will call “Cardinal Unsecured.”  I clicked on the link and started reading about the company and the services it offered. After showing my husband, he decided to call and see what they were about.