DECEMBER 13TH, 2009 – Account Delinquency Letter
On December 13th, 2009, I received an account delinquency letter from America’s Servicing Company (the mortgage servicer) on behalf of Wells Fargo and Deutche Bank.
I’d been in my house for just over 5 years. Back in 2004, after looking all over south and southwest, I bought in a south Austin neighborhood between S. 1st and S. Congress. It’s a good location because both streets will take you straight downtown. That also meant that home values would likely continue to increase. The house was a fixer upper previously owned by the Maxies. Mr. Maxie was a former state trooper and worked on the secret service detail at the Texas State Capitol. I’m not sure if they actually called it the Texas Secret Service but, it was their job to protect the governor. Yup, he was one of then future president George W. Bush’s personal body guards. Rumor has it, back in the 90’s a neighbor kid and his friends broke into the house, stole Mr. Maxie’s guns and then shot up his house with his own guns (some of the bullets are still inside the front door, which received a marginal D.I.Y. repair). I don’t know if that adds value to the house but in Texas, it’s a pretty cool conversation piece when people come over for the first time…”Hey those look like bullet holes”. “They are. See, what happen was…”. That’s the kind of thing that people talk about which is good for a business. It may be a little weird but once the studio is finished, I’ll bet it will get people in the door to rent the studio, just from the word of mouth. Besides, Austin is a weird town.
The thing that originally drew me to the house, however, was not the history connected to Mr. President George W., but it had been one of two model homes when the neighborhood was new back in the 1980’s. What would have been a garage on a typical house, was enclosed for use as a real estate office and was nicely landscaped out front. The former real estate office bonus room attracted my attention for use as a future film post-production studio. My first studio was a fairly cubicle shaped bedroom on Shoreline drive, off East Riverside. That’s where I slept and did the sound mix for “Master of the Game” (MOG), the first feature film to be shot at the now ubiquitous Austin Studios (formerly airplane hangars at Mueller airport, now redeveloped into a mixed-use subdivision.). Since I had mixed “MOG” with great results (the film got a limited theatrical run and distribution on DVD through blockbuster.com), I knew what was needed and what wasn’t to get professional results out of a studio. Given my background, it made perfect sense to buy the house and build one, in spite of the fact that I didn’t know the first thing about construction. Another great thing about the Maxie house was that the electrical work was already configured for the builder’s intended use of that space as an office, not a garage which usually has only one GFCI plug (GFCI is one of those plugs with the red reset button, like what you find in some bathrooms…no good for a studio). It had three 120v and one 240v circuits. The room was big. Larger than your typical two car garage and it was in my price range….Jackpot!
When I got the delinquency letter, my resume listed 7 years’ experience in account management, project management, systems installation and maintenance, but the doors had closed on my future in the systems integration business. I had only a few thousand left in my retirement account which I had cashed in so that I could continue paying my bills (including the mortgage). Around that same time, I followed a lead with a local production company and was hired as an independent contractor on a month to month basis. The job involved engineering and video operator work on mobile production trucks in the live sporting event arena. This was right up my alley since I had a college degree from the University of Texas in TV and film production as well as 7 years’ experience installing, designing, and troubleshooting AV and TV systems and equipment. After Three years of working as an independent contractor, all the hard work finally paid off when the production company offered me the video and lighting operator position at the soon to be launched “Longhorn Network”. Full time work, health insurance, and regular pay. How could a bank turn me down for a loan modification now?… But, the LHN job happened later, towards the end of my effort to secure a loan modification. Let’s go back to 2009. Since I was now running my own business, I needed a home office, database, accounting software…etc. I bought a new computer and all the software (mostly old versions off eBay) and got the office setup in the smallest room of my studio. By the time I ran out of money, the home office was fully setup. The database software was just sitting there staring me in the face not getting much use. Managing accounts in the SI business required meticulous record keeping so, I was already conditioned for the difficult (if not impossible) job of keeping tabs on a giant corporation, but I never thought I’d use my new home office to navigate through such a personal ordeal. Over the four years that followed, it would see more personal use than business. But, what to do about that delinquency letter? Well, I figured I should probably fill out the form and send it in…so I did.