Sunday 23 March, 2014:
I wake up before 6 am. After a while I get up and make something to eat, and go back to bed – where I get a text from little Michael.
I like Michael, but I hardly know him and besides, I haven’t seen him in months – he and Tau had an argument a while back. Tau says he can’t remember much of what it was about.
Well, today Michael texts me to ask if I can help him sort something out. He says he owes thousands of dollars in fines on his car. There’s some story about how he sold it, and the person he sold it to is the person who incurred the fines. Only the car is still in Michael’s name, and he can’t prove this with the court. I’m not sure what’s really going on – but I feel sorry for Michael, all the same.
So I just tell him to come round sometime, and, “Today?” he replies, straight away.
He turns up around 3. When I let him in, I can see right away that something isn’t right. He’s real skinny (and he’s always been pretty skinny), and jittery and semi-rambling about stuff. Clutching a big sheaf of paper, which turns out to be letters for fines that he owes. He tells me the story in more detail, about his friend and the car, and then – kind of contradicting himself – he tells me that he’s just had his car taken off him. I still can’t figure it out, but I can see he’s not in a good way. So I just let him talk for a while.
He mentions Tau and Leroi, too. Says they did something which he can’t forgive, after everything he did for them – this is how Michael puts it. He tells me he lent them money when they moved to Rutherford Ave, bought heaps of groceries and stuff (“I put food on the table for Sheree…” he says). And I don’t doubt there’s some truth in all that.
But then he starts to rave a bit, telling me he gave them them 10K (which seems not at all credible) and this is how he was treated in return. I don’t even try to find out more, or make an alternative case for anything, because Michael is just going on and on. Telling me he has ‘no problem making money’, he can always make money. And in the same breath he’s asking how to get a loan to pay off all these fines.
I ask him (gently, because I’m pretty sure I already know the answer) if he’s still working at the parts store, and he tells me no. So I explain how he won’t be able to get a loan from the bank, and say that I don’t advise him to take one from a finance company – the interest rate will be way too high.
He listens to me, but I can see he’s desperate to get this stuff sorted out. He tells me there’s a warrant out for his arrest – he didn’t turn up to court over the fines. he didn’t know what to do or say.
I suggest that he could ring the Ministry of Justice and speak to someone about paying his fines off. I actually think it might be ok doing it that way – the courts are quite realistic about getting some money – any amount rather than none.
Michael calms down slightly at this idea. He asks if I can help him ring and sort it out. He waves the papers, wanting to do it right then and there. I tell him that there won’t be anyone at the call centre on Sunday, he’ll have to come back sometime during the week.
“Tomorrow?” he asks at once.
“Yeah, tomorrow should be alright,” I tell him. I actually feel pretty sorry for the guy. No matter what the real story is, it isn’t a good position for him to be in.
“Thanks, Miss,” he keeps saying, and, “I didn’t know who else to ask.”
“It’s ok,” I assure him. “I don’t mind helping you out.”
“Shall I… come to school?” he asks. I can see from his expression he doesn’t want to. And I guess I understand why: he wouldn’t want anyone at MC to see him this way.
So I say, “No… just come here.”
“Can I come here, Miss?” he checks. “After school tomorrow?”
“Sure,” I tell him.
After this, we just talk a bit more. Michael tells me his family don’t want him around. Again, a confusing sequence of events follows. First he says he’s sleeping in the car (this is when he had the car, I guess), then that he’s staying with his dad. “But my dad just sits and stares at the wall,” he says. “Ever since my mum passed away. So I’m staying with… a friend.”
Whatever the story, he isn’t the way he used to be. And in my (not very expert) opinion, he’s definitely on the hard stuff.