"There's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out." -Lou Reed

Saturday, April 11, 2009

For Shame!

I saw this story a few days ago, and was curious and startled by the premise. In Spain, there is a deep fear of public humiliation, and personal honor is very important. So bill collectors there have devised an unusual way to get their money out of their debtors. They either send out their own agents in costumes or hire actors for the deed, and these costumed collectors descend upon the homes or businesses of those owing money, and publicly harass and expose them. They may not even speak, and only follow them from their homes to other places. Or they might loudly proclaim the nature of their arrival.

Can you imagine? I mean, thank goodness this isn't the policy in the US right now, or there would be a parade of costumed creditors outside my door right now.

This tactic is working in Spain, but it makes me sad. I know what it is like to be unable to pay your bills and you feel badly enough. Public humiliation like that, especially when personal honor is so important to the Spanish people, is cruel and unusual punishment. There may be some who well deserve the visits from debt collectors in costume, but I am sure most of the people are just unable to pay their bills for the same reasons we all are.

I thought a lot about how this would go over in America, too. This premise would last days, maybe only weeks before someone involved a firearm when seeing Zorro at his door, loudly telling everyone he or she was in debt. No one would take those costume jobs here.
Well, unless they really needed a job desperately, or if they were in a lot of debt. Ironic, huh.

Spain's Costumed Debt Collectors: Final Notice?
By Lisa Abend

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, Montserrat Vila sat in her Barcelona apartment, waiting for the bullfighters to appear. They were not coming to show off some cape work in her living room. In fact, they were not real bullfighters at all. Rather, the three men, dressed like matadors in garish tight pants and embroidered jackets, were coming to collect a debt.

It's safe to say that at the same time elsewhere in Spain, a monk, a Zorro, a clown and a Pink Panther were doing the same thing. Read more....

article and photo courtesy Time.com


Anonymous,  July 29, 2009 at 1:13 PM  
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