On Thursday, Oct. 30, our stuff was locked far away – inside a large storage container in Hatfield, Pa. The Pod people picked it up, because our man Friday came through with a substantial payment of $2,275. He is still short, though, of the total amount due, and his good faith payment was made under duress from an express mail letter.
Unless Alice and I return to Pennsylvania and file criminal or civil charges for theft by deception, our options are limited. We must either bite the bullet and pay the $1,512 balance due, or allow our belongings to languish inside Pod’s Philadelphia area storage facility. We found out too late the person we trusted has a criminal record for similar manipulations, including Vietnam Veterans of America.
Luther K. Bates, 70, lives across the street from widow Alice McCormick’s former home in Doylestown. For $4,400 cash, he promised to remove our possessions from the house, squeeze them inside a Pod and ship them out here. He fulfilled the first two obligations, but frittered away the cash on his own bills. Because Alice and I spent all our money to make this deal and move to Oregon, we have little recourse.
The limit on our personal credit cards prevents us from going back. If we could, Alice and I would need a lawyer, and Doylestown barristers ain’t cheap. In the meantime, our precious possessions inside the Pod could be treated as “abandoned” unless we come up with the rental fee necessary to keep them in storage. And maybe, maybe come up with the balance due to have the contents shipped to our apartment complex.
Although best journalistic practices employ high standards to avoid libel and slander, I have no fear of exposing Bates on this website for his failure to perform. What’s he going to do? Sue us? We have no assets, no money – and no stuff.
Without the newspaper clips gathered over the years, I have no way to prove my journalistic credentials, except what can be inferred from this website and a Google search of my name. My suits are in the Pod, as well as our printers. The Bose surround sound system that adorned my office: supposedly stored there, too. So are photos and memorabilia of my mother, grandmother, my deceased brother, Jon, and the surviving sibling, Chris.
So are Alice’s medical records and family pictures. All the furniture that was squeezed into the Pod could be removed and auctioned off. Losing our stuff would be a personal disaster. Shall I blame Alice for trusting a neighbor who became her confidante over the 10 years they knew one another?
We are short of ideas and in a tight squeeze. Bates doesn’t return our phone messages. Either he will come up with more money, or the container will languish and incur monthly rental fees. So we have to do something. To add insult to injury, a trusted musician about whom I wrote glowingly in a Bucks County newspaper has stiffed me for $100 on a futon. He doesn’t answer my calls either.
On a lighter note, I volunteered to work in the Hillsboro Library, and eventually could wind up with a paying part-time job there. Also, I joined the choir of Hillsboro’s Unitarian Universalist Church. And if you re-read my review of Melissa Hart’s author presentation called “Author Within,” she added a glowing comment about my coverage. Hart teaches journalism at the University of Oregon.
Therefore, all is not bleak, but that doesn’t stop me from being pissed. Happy Halloween, everybody!