Tuesday, June 6, 2017

My First Field Inspection: A Wreck

I've been at this gig for some months now. I've gotten comfortable with meeting strangers who might not be glad to see me once they find out the purpose of my visit.

Of course, one always has to start somewhere, and as you can understand, when I had my first field visit assigned to me in early March I was pretty nervous. Was I going to screw up? What if the debtor turned belligerent? What if I messed up on the report? What if I couldn't even find the residence?

The morning of my visit turned out to be cold with quite a bit of recent snow and ice on the ground. Great. It's hard enough to get around town when the weather is like that. According to Google Maps, the debtor's residence was on a lousy road at the end of another lousy road.

I decided to do the job before I reported to my "real" job at 9am to get it out of the way. I left the house about 8am, in the hope of catching the debtor at home before they might be leaving for work.

The roads were crap. I located the neighborhood and nearly bottomed out trying to enter; the road was nothing but potholes. Success! I had spotted the house number listed on my paperwork. Before getting closer I took a photo of the street sign.

What a dump this neighborhood was -- rundown duplexes with ratty cars parked in front of most of them. None of the yards showed any sign of landscaping or any other attempts to make them look nicer. This was the type of place where you wouldn't feel comfortable exiting your vehicle wearing business attire and a photo ID, because someone might think you were in law enforcement and decide to start some crap.

I approached the target residence and snapped a photo of the house number on the front. Now, where was the collateral I was there to inquire about? There was no car of that make and model in sight. Was my info bad? Had the debtor possibly moved?

There was a mound of snow near the edge of the parking lot, about 80 feet from the residence. I then noticed the mound had a wheel visible. There was a car under the mound.

I approached and quickly brushed off some of the snow. The color, make, model and VIN matched the vehicle on my paperwork. The license plate had been removed.

The car was totally wrecked. The front end was falling off, as was the right front fender. The lender was going to be upset when they saw this pitiful hulk. I took a dozen more photos and then approached the residence.

Knock, knock. I could hear a television. Knock, knock. A baby coughed and I could hear movement inside. No one would answer the door. I waited another minute and knocked again. Still no response.

My instructions said I could attempt to verify the debtor's occupancy by speaking with a neighbor. Unfortunately, if the neighbors were home (and I believe they were because there were cars parked in front of their homes), they had probably seen me snooping around and taking photos, and decided they didn't want to talk to me, either.

I returned to the debtor's house and taped the sealed letter to her from the lender to the front door. It was all I could do. I would never know if she still lived there and was actively avoiding me, or perhaps had long moved away and just left her destroyed car behind. Not my problem.

My first-ever field inspection was complete. It earned me $25 -- not bad for about 40 minutes' total work including the time it would take to file my report online and upload the photos.

This was something I decided I could get used to. I was hooked. My field inspections have become more varied and interesting as I've progressed, but I'll always fondly remember that sad little Hyundai Sonata peeking at me from under its snowy shroud.

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