I’M GOOD IF YOU’RE GOOD by Peter Nolan Smith

Opening a jewelry store in the Plaza Hotel seemed like a good idea in the Spring of 2009. I was dead broke after my arrest in Thailand for copyright infringement and my wife Mam was pregnant with our son. The Plaza was one of New York’s premier destinations. Wealth was in my cards.

Richie Boy launched the store in the Retail Collection in October. I was his store manager. His two partners were supposed to supply customers and merchandise and money. We saw little of three. Mario was stealing goods to pay for his sickly son’s treatments and the Iranian had been soaked by a six-figure bar mitzvah. My check was late every week and one rainy Tuesday I went over to Chase to cash my wages. A smiling bank officer was at the door.

“Can I help you?” She was wearing a trim bank suit.

“I just need to cash a check.” It was for $800.

“Do you bank here?”

“No.” All my bank accounts were wiped out in April. The balances were zero.

“Would you care to open an account?”

“Why not?” Normal people had bank accounts and I wanted to live a normal life.

The bank officer led me to her office. Nancy was about half my age. She treated me with respect. I filled out the forms and she entered my social security number into the computer.

“Oh.”

“Something wrong.” Her ‘oh’ had an edge to it.

“You had an account here before.”

“I did.” I knew what she was talking about.

“A credit card debt of over $60,000.”

“Yes.” I was ready to run and my hand reached to snatch my check before the doors to her office slid shut and the police arrived to drag me to debtor prison.

“Did you go bankrupt?” A frown drifted across her lips.

“Something like that.” I told the bank’s debt collection service that I was going to prison in Thailand and asked for an extended line of credit. They said that they weren’t bail bondsmen. The phone stopped ringing after that call.

“Well, because they wrote off your debt.”

“They did?” $60,000 had gone poof.

“Yes.” Nancy was smiling again. “You still want to open that account?”

“Am I good?”

“Yes.” She was eager to score a new customer.

“Are you good?”

“Yes.” Her bosses had greenlighted my banking with Chase.

“Then I guess I’ll open an account.” I signed the necessary paperwork and ten minutes later walked out of Chase a new man thanks to the bank’s forward-thinking policy.

International Write-Off Day is coming for us all.

It’s better than Burning and Looting Day by a long shot.

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