Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less


with 5 comments

Total Black: $65.20
Total Red: $230,428.97

Another night ushering at Avenue Q.  I had been thinking a bit about a comment received earlier today.  The commenter criticized me for making “a spectacle of myself” and suggested I either leave the country or remain in debt till I die.

At least he or she left a suggestion!  Not sure though how fleeing the country, presumably to Canada as another of her or his comments had suggested, will solve my debt problems.  Running away might be a quick fix, but I’d be left homeless in a foreign country.  I couldn’t practice law there.  I’d have to work illegally.  I’m sure there’s some sort of treaty in place between Canada and the United States regarding debt absconders.  But besides all that, there’s the more practical question of how I’d even get to Canada with the little bit of money I have.

It’s funny Canada was suggested though because it had crossed my mind one night months back to look into Alberta or Saskatchewan, whichever province is experiencing massive oil boom.  It’s the Canadian gold rush I suppose.  At any rate, all of this crossed my mind tonight while at work.  And a few moments later the song Schadenfreude came on and I started to grin wide.  The song is sung by an actress playing Gary Coleman who is now supposed to be living on Avenue Q.  He’s been reduced to being the building superintendent since he’s lost all his child actor fortune.  The song comes at a point in the show where one character has just been booted from his friend’s apartment and has nowhere left to go.  His closeted roommate had already kicked him out and he’s exhausted his welcome everywhere else on Avenue Q.  Coleman urges him to be homeless.  Then, like himself, he’ll be providing a service to humanity.  People can look at him and be thankful they’re not in his shoes.

Schadenfreude is typically reserved for more diabolical events, but it can apply to such minor misfortunes.  It is the evil twin of sympathy.  While sympathy technically encompasses feelings of happiness, we tend to associate it mostly with the sadness or sorrow you feel at others’ misfortune.  Schadenfreude, however, has you feeling happy at someone else’s state of affairs.  Why is it that we enjoy taking pleasure at the misfortune of others?  We do.  The song hits multiple nails on their heads: feeling warm and cozy watching people all wet and cold in the rain; that sneaky smile we get when the elevator or subway doors close and leave someone behind; the evil smirk when a woman’s heel breaks off, especially if she had no business being in heels to begin with, or how about the smile that crosses our faces when someone trips and falls, especially if it’s because of ice or snow.

I laughed while watching the show because it seems that this “spectacle” I’m making of myself makes quite a few readers happy.  The visceral reactions left by some commenters used to stun me.  Venom and Vitriol is one such example.  I didn’t understand where the anger came from.  If I succeed, so be it.  I’m out of debt.  One less burden on the banks.  If I don’t, so be it.  I’ll just keep plugging along.  But the difference it makes to readers out there I didn’t get.  I suppose I still don’t.  I suppose the world of the blogger is a bit self-centered, so I appreciate the comments, suggestions, feedback, and even the criticism.  but I don’t get the anger my words can evoke.  But today, after listening to this song, I figured . . . so be it.  Getting anger out makes others feel a bit happier.  Kicking the dog at the end of the day releases a bit of steam.  So if people get a bit closer to happy by lashing out at me, so be it.  They can feel a bit of pleasure at my misfortune.  Glad to be of service!

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

December 12, 2009 at 23:30

5 Responses

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  1. Don’t listen to these stupid pigs. I also have a blog and you will not imagine the nasty remarks I get for the most harmless posts. There are a lot of unhappy weirdos out there. You are not making a spectacle of yourself – yours is the most honest and heartfelt blog I have come across in a long time. Trust me I have been reading quite a bit about lawyers’ struggle this past year and this one really has something about it that makes me want to read more.


    December 15, 2009 at 18:57

  2. Dude, no reasonable person (including myself) is taking pleasure in your misfortune. But from reading your blog, it is simply not reasonable to expect you to ever come out from under your $230k nut. Big law is required to service debt like that ($60k salaray would do, if you were to dramatically cut down on expenses, which seems even less likely for you than biglaw).

    You also did not address my suggestions; maybe you were too emotionally hurt or maybe you are unable to be logical (either seems equally likely at this point).

    Here is your scattershot response to my post:

    >> Another night ushering at Avenue Q.

    You made how much, $50 ? That is 0.02% of your total debt wiped out … only another 4600 days to go.

    >> Not sure though how fleeing the country, presumably to Canada … will solve my debt problems.

    Because your creditors will not pursue you outside of the US !

    >> I couldn’t practice law there.

    You aren’t practising law now either. Become a high school teacher in Toronto, you’d be qualified, and still be reasonably close to ‘home’ (NYC or Scranton).

    >> I’m sure there’s some sort of treaty in place between Canada and the United States regarding debt absconders.

    No there is not. Do research and find out the facts.

    >> It’s funny Canada was suggested though because it had crossed my mind one night months back to look into Alberta or Saskatchewan, whichever province is experiencing massive oil boom.

    Saskatchewan grows wheat, Alberta grows oil.

    “…self-pity party redacted … ”

    I saw Avenue Q last time I was in Manhattan; didn’t enjoy it. Too much ‘in’ pop-culture humour (give Gary Coleman a rest) and the music was just so-so.

    Anyways, good luck.


    December 15, 2009 at 20:14

  3. the_guy_that_left_the_spectacle_comment

    December 15, 2009 at 20:18

  4. That’s better Mr Spectacle Comment. People are struggling – and you may have some valid points but to slam someone during such sensitive times when people are just trying to make ends meet is just not nice. These days people can take anything to heart – even an anonymous comment. I know I do when people post mean things on my blog. I don’t even know these people but because like Laid-Off I am temping and in such an uncertain and stressful situation I tend to take their views a lot more seriously than I would if I had a proper job and was more secure.

    Are you serious? How can running off to Canada be a solution? Maybe it’ll work short-term but it will ruin his credit and what will he do when he decides to come back.


    December 15, 2009 at 21:51

  5. Just because I’m a nice guy:



    This is not legal advice. You are not a client. I’m not even an attorney. If you want legal advice, contact an attorney admitted to your jurisdiction’s bar. What I am saying here is probably 100% wrong and if you do anything in reliance on it, you are a blithering idiot who deserves whatever bad shit is very likely to befall you.

    Now that that’s out of the way, I will say that I am a paralegal and have worked in the collections business before. I also have a similar issue with my prospective move to the True North Strong and Free.

    First off, anyone who says you’ll be criminally prosecuted, deported, or rendered inadmissible because of student loan debt should be ignored for their own good. Neither the U.S. nor Canada have anything resembling debtor’s prisons. Hell, I think the Canadian government expects that a certain percentage of people moving there are doing so, at least in part, to start a new life free of old debts.

    Also, I have not, despite a thorough and diligent search, been able to find any questions in any immigration paperwork regarding debt or financial obligations of any kind. The only exceptions are sponsoring a family member or the requirement of unencumbered (e.g., the money is not already pledged as collateral) landing funds.

    In Canada, the U.S. government cannot employ its typical tactics like “administrative” (read: Sans due process of law) wage garnishment against any Canadian wages you might earn. Now, if you default, they could still garnish any American wages or seize any American property to cover the debt. They can also seize your U.S. tax returns and, incredibly, take a percentage of your U.S. Social Security.

    To come after any of your assets in Canada, though, they would have to (1) sue you in the U.S. and then attempt to domesticate that judgment in Canada, or (2) sue you in Canada based on the U.S. contract.

    As to (1) that is what you’re thinking of by “international agreements regarding student loans.” It has to do with countries recognizing civil court judgments from other countries, not student loans per se.

    As for (2), they could do that, but you would be able to raise defenses under Canadian law like, possibly, expiry of the statute of limitations.

    From what I’ve read, I doubt they would do either (see above). It depends on how much you owe and who you owe it to. If they did come after you as described above, you would have the option of declaring Canadian bankruptcy. The Canadian Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act exempts only *Canadian* student loans from discharge. It does not address loans from anywhere else. Now, they could possibly oppose your discharge, but at least you would be in a position to negotiate at that point. That’s far better than the one you probably find yourself in at present.

    Another thing to keep in mind: American credit does not carry over to Canada. I have had three different reps from three different banks tell me this. As I said, “some would look at this as having to start all over again from nothing. Others would look at it as a new lease on life.”

    Well, I hope this helps, but read carefully the first paragraph. And read it again.



    Also check out:



    December 16, 2009 at 21:20

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