Friday, January 29, 2010

Question for the weekend (by Suzie)

Why do debt collectors have to be so cold and curt? The two most common answers are problematic.

1. They hate their jobs. People with bad jobs should remember that the people with whom they are talking may also have miserable lives. (The reverse is true for people yelling at the debt collectors.) As Ani DiFranco says:
maybe you don't like your job
maybe you didn't get enough sleep
well, nobody likes their job
nobody got enough sleep
maybe you just had
the worst day of your life
but, you know, there's no escape
and there's no excuse
so just suck up and be nice
2. They think that, if they’re nice, the debtors will try to manipulate them. This attitude is pervasive among those with power over the poor: The person seeking food stamps or welfare benefits or public housing is trying to cheat you, and so, you better treat them like dirt to let them know that you won’t stand for any foolishness. Maybe that works with some potential cheaters, but others may think there’s no point in being honest because the system doesn’t care about them and will try to cheat them out of benefits. People who don’t cheat are just beaten down further.

I’ve been thinking about this while working with Bank of America’s “home retention team” on behalf of one of my sisters. How does this pertain to feminism? Compassion often has been associated with women and seen as a weakness. We need to revalue it.