Oh, the temptation to make you all wait...ah ha ha!!! (Note: This is why I must never be given power. I totally abuse it).
Okay, when last we left our lovely heroine, Dena was sitting on a broken-down coach next to a woman who refused to meet her eyes while the woman's husband ranted and raved and stomped about the room cursing. And now...
Once I realized the woman knew exactly what she was getting me into, I knew she would be no help. I desperately wanted to get out of there, but the man was still walking around and whenever he came to a standstill, he stopped right in front of the door. I took a breath and tried to reason with him, telling him my offer was just that, an offer, and why didn't he explain his perspective to me and we'd go from there.
Forget it. I don't know if the man took something before we met or if perhaps he took it while he was getting the paperwork, but he was on something. His eyes were glazed and crazy all at the same time. He started yelling at me that he "owned every GD-ho (whore) in the county." I have no idea what relevance this had to our conversation but it scared the hell out of me that he brought it up, nonetheless.
Trying not to show how scared I was, I said, "Tell me how much money you're looking for." He named some astronomical figure. I don't remember the details, but say if the case was worth $2,000, he named $50,000 as his figure. Still, I acted like I was considering it.
"Okay," I said. "The problem is, that's beyond my check-writing authority level. If I write you a check for that, they won't cash it." The man stopped pacing and listened to me.
"What I need to do," I said, trying to act like I was considering options, "is to take this to my supervisor and get his signature. He'll have to authorize it."
"And he'll do that?" asked the man.
I was afraid to outright lie, so I shrugged. "I don't know," I said. "But I can tell him the points you've made to me today and why you don't think my offer is fair--"
"GD right your offer isn't fair," the man interrupted, getting worked up again.
"Well, that's my point," I said. "My offer is just an offer and you certainly don't have to take it. But I'll explain everything to my supervisor about what you're looking for and I'll call you."
My eyes flicked to the woman who was finally looking up, glancing from me to her husband. I got the feeling she knew exactly what I was doing but I also had the feeling she wanted to help. She said nothing.
"Well... I guess that might be alright," said the man.
I stood and picked up my briefcase. "Okay then, " I said. "I'll be in touch soon."
The man reluctantly moved and let me pass, but he followed me out the front porch and halfway down the steps.
Have you ever seen the movie Poltergeist, where at the every end when the family is escaping, the Dad tries to fit the car key into the door but can't because his hands are shaking so bad? I always thought that was a movie thing but it really does happen. My hands were shaking so badly it took 4 tries to get my key in the door and as I stood there I just knew this loon of a guy was going to come sweeping off the porch and across the yard to stop me.
But he didn't. He stayed on the steps and glared at me as I pulled away.
My heart was racing. I called Blair on my cell but got his voicemail. I was so upset I had to talk to someone so I called my supervisor, Mike. "Are you okay?" he asked almost as soon as he heard my voice.
"Yes. No. I don't know," I said, my voice shaking. "I was at this guy's house and..." The emotions came and I started crying a little. "I was at his house and..." Then I hit a bare patch (this was the EARLY days of cell phones) and the line went dead.
I later found out that Mike--the nicest guy in the world, btw--was standing in his cubicle yelling, "Dena? Dena?" into the line, totally panicked that something awful had happened to me. He's flinging files around the office, trying to find my schedule and figure out where my appointments were that day. I called back 10 minutes later when the phone came back in range and by that time, a small crowd had gathered around Mike. I think they were ready to send out a search possee which is funny, embarrassing, and touching all at the same time.
And that's the end of the story. This woman eventually settled for my initial offer because her claim was never worth more and I never spoke to or saw her husband again.
But going back to my original point with all this, I NEVER should have gone with them in the first place and my body/spirit/mind/gut/whatever tried to warn me. There were times when that man was pacing and cursing that I really thought he might haul off and hit me or worse. I count myself very lucky to have gotten out of there unscathed. And so now, even though I don't listen to my gut all the time, whenever I get that prickly "be careful" feeling, you can bet I pay attention to it.
(See Mom, I lived...)