“Educated Criminals Work Within the Law…”
I wouldn’t exactly call street mugging a noble art, but there’s certainly a refreshing honesty to it. They wave the knife at your throat, you hand over the dough, they run off. I know, it’s happened to me too many times on the streets and before. It’s not great but at least they’re not like mobile phone companies. You know where you stand with muggers and it’s worth the tenner you lost to not have to spend hours on end fruitlessly negotiating with them in call centres in far off lands only to be routinely lied to, cut off and then left with the dawning realisation that you’ve signed a contract, they’ve got you by the b*lls and now they have your money they’re gonna make it as difficult as possible for you to escape their clutches or get your money back, however shitty their product is.
I once spent nearly six hours on the phone to a Virgin Call Centre, being cut off repeatedly, demanding that they fix the crappy phone they sent me which THEY broke through a faulty download, only to be told by the bloke on the end of the phone, ‘Well I’ve worked for Vodaphone and T-Mobile and they’re MUCH worse.’ ‘Jeez,’ I thought. ‘What do they actually DO? Come around to your house and rape your cat?’
But it’s not just mobile phone companies. Banks, GPs, lawyers, estate agents, basically anyone who sells anything over the phone or on the street, charity muggers…we live in a ‘take the money and run’ society. Let’s not forget politicians. And watching them all with their snouts in the trough, you think. ‘Well, if they can do it and get away with…why shouldn’t I?’ So some kid who tries to copy these ‘respectable’ role models and nicks a load of trainers from JD Sports ends up being fed drugs behind bars while they waltz away with their crimes. Because he didn’t know the golden rule. If you are gonna steal, just know the law and pirouette around the outlines of it, without ever crossing over that line. Meanwhile some nasty-arsed businessman can put his company into liquidation, leaving hundreds of hard working people unpaid, waltz away and then set up the same venture a few weeks later untouched by justice. These people have blood on their hands…
It happens in the public sector too. My friend Jimmy just got into a place after more than a year on the streets. He gets f*ck all in benefits but still has to fork out for council tax. He got a bill two months ago telling him he needed to hurry up and pay around £20 a month. He’s suffering from PTSD like me and he’s very anxious and disordered and he genuinely forgot. Anyway a few days ago he got a terrifying letter in bold, blood-red ink from Barking and Dagenham council tax services.He had three days to pay the entire bill for the year (which of course he couldn’t do) or they were adding £190 to his bill (for what?) taking him to court (costs money!) and sending the bailiffs around. Luckily for Jimmy he’s got f*ck all to confiscate. But that exercise will also presumably cost money.
Jimmy tried to call them over several days, to offer to pay some of what little he has left, so they might call the legal dogs off. It took 35 minutes first time and it’s not freephone so he ran out of credit after 27 minutes. The next day he spent money topping up his phone and tried again but again the waiting time was over half an hour and he didn’t have enough money to both pay the call and pay their bill. Eventually he walked three miles to their offices in Dagenham assuming he would be able to pay. It’s called the ‘one stop shop’ so it’s meant to deal with everything council related, but apparently it’s everything bar council tax. They let him use their phone to call through to the single human being dealing with council tax enquiries (who works in the same building!) but the waiting time was again half an hour and he missed the cut before the phone lines close at 5pm. He will no doubt try again tomorrow.
Had they bothered to look into his health records, which they DO have, they would have discovered that Jimmy was very nearly sectioned on many occasions recently for feeling suicidal. By tomorrow he will be a day late so they will have no doubt by then applied the £190 ‘fine’ to his bill. Well, you can’t get blood out of a stone so it’s a futile exercise doing that to a man who doesn’t even own cutlery. But, like the dishonourable people mentioned above, by the time this is sorted out, they might well yet have actual blood on their hands.
It won’t say that on his death certificate though. It will say ‘misadventure’…