“My heart is strong,
I will not fail,
I won't be wronged,
I will prevail.”
I will not fail,
I won't be wronged,
I will prevail.”
― Alexandra Lanc,
I've been taken. Duped, fooled, suckered. I fell for the con about this time two years ago, and it has taken a huge amount of my time and energy since. It's like I'm slowly moving thru the 7 stages of grief, only I can't quite read what the next one is supposed to be. Closure and Acceptance will be nice....if I ever get there.Getting ready to move from Georgia to North Carolina was a big deal. We were closing down a business that had been my life, my love and my livelihood for over 25 years. We were selling the property that held countless unique and sentimentally valuable plants. We were leaving the house we designed and built on our own; the one that would be our last house ever, we thought.
To get that done took a lot of re-imagining, a lot of re-planning, and a lot re-organizing of convictions, sensibilities, and perspectives.
But, on the other hand, moving could be a good big deal. If we could manage the physical and mental move, we would be going to live and love the salt life at the coast. We could be downsizing the stuff of our lives in exchange for the grand babies that would fill our hearts. If we could just hold our breaths for about 12 months and get it done, we would be good. I made it for about 11 months. It was a bit of a struggle letting go. All the emotion coming and going was building to that final month. Time was getting short. Decisions needed to be made. It was the band aid I just had to rip off, hoping the pain would go away quickly.
One of the very last things I had to do after moving but before actually closing on the sale of the house was to have an estate sale. We had some nice furniture and antiques, some silver, china and glassware that should have sold pretty easily. It mainly amounted to things that I would just not have room for in the new place at the coast. So it would be nice to pull in a few bucks for this or that, but mainly I needed to be done. So I started looking for someone to run an estate sale for us.
Then I slipped.
Looking back now, I was stupid; and willfully stupid. I did not want to face the final separations. I just wanted someone to come in and take care of it all. I wanted to look away; to be forced to stay away. And boy, did she know that. She was based nearby. She said all the right things about my stuff. She said her husband was a UGA professor. She said she could do the sale before the closing.
I asked a few questions. I checked out her husband at UGA. I stopped asking questions. I signed the contracts. Stupid.
At first it seemed like everything would be fine. Joe packed up his final loads and finished the move. Kathy Dove started staging the remaining items in the house. We would let her run the sale, take remaining items on consignment, and clean out the house before the closing. All that seemed to go according to plan, and the house did present itself clean and empty when we arrived for final walk just before the buyers. I was almost done holding my breath.
In the next month I got "the package" from the sale. Not a lot of money, a sheet scrawled with vague items sold, pictures of what furniture supposedly went to consignment, and a note full of excuses about the inventory not quite finished....one of her main guys was in the hospital....she would get it to me soon.....she would be sending monthly checks and reports on the consignment items.
So the weeks went on into months, and I started writing emails asking about the inventory and money she owed me. I even mentioned recommending her to our real estate agents hoping she might respond better. Well, that did get her to respond with a tiny check and a big goosh. But after that, for 6 months I got nothing.
By then we were really moved and settling in. Life was good on the coast. I really wasn't worried about the money. But I was nagged by the idea that I had been fooled; that I had trusted without verifying.
The story goes on from here, but the queasy feeling remained. I have retold each excruciating detail to myself a thousand fold....mostly in the middle of the night. The long story short version is that I took back what was left of the consignment. Much had "sold" without being paid. I made myself sit down with the original sale list only to find that many, if not most, of the expensive, choice items were unaccounted for. As she said to an undercover reporter just last week, "She was a picker before it was cool to be a picker, and she got most of her good stuff from estate sales".
From there I made myself go through everything in order to prepare to sue in Magistrate's court. She avoided service. I found a way to have the Secretary of State accept the service for her company. She did not pick up her certified letter. That meant she missed her allotted to to respond. I got a judgment. She renamed her company for the third time, and started over again. I had her shut down on the national estate sale advertising websites with that judgment. She still continued locally. I wrote bad reviews everywhere I could think of. I wrote the BBB. I contacted the trade organization for legit estate sales companies. Somewhere in here folks started contacting me about their experiences. I was not the only one fooled, cheated, frustrated. Each story held different details, but all shared the theme.
The struggle continues. It's still not about the money. It's about owning my mistakes. It's about not being the victim. It's also about working with other women who won't be victims. It's also gotten to be about law enforcement's reluctance to help us fight; about the bad guys and good guys; self esteem; the truth. I have learned a lot about the law. It's not perfect. It's not a straight line. I am beginning to see how using the law, even in this insignificant way, is more art, study and creativity.
So where am I now? I am trying to pursue and let go all at the same time. I am trying to support the group. I am fighting disappointment and relishing success each step of the way. I am leaning on my friends and family for good times, and hoping to improve. Hey, I am trying to remember..... that's life.
"If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid."
Epictetus, Greek philosopher