Going to small claims court for a debt you can't pay is humiliating

Mary Duncan

Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

I just had my day in court — I am getting sued for a debt I can’t afford to pay.

I like to use the expression “you can’t get water from stone” but apparently that isn’t the case when you are sued in small claims court.

They will take anything they can get from you, even if you can’t afford to pay it.

The whole experience was humiliating, except for the fact that we were all in court for the same reason.

Every person sitting in there with me was also being sued for a debt, and so I felt some comfort knowing that I wasn’t alone in not being able to pay my bills, and that in a way, we were all in this together.

But from there, things weren’t so good.

I had to go before the plaintiff, the lawyer representing the debt buying company who is suing me, and plead my case as to why I couldn’t afford to pay the $140 per month they were asking for.

Of course, I started crying.

I couldn’t help it.

Trying to explain that I left the real workforce a year and a half ago to move in with my parents so that I could homeschool my disabled daughter brought me to tears, and thankfully, those tears seemed to have negotiated me a much lower rate than what they originally wanted me to pay.

All in all, I got off much easier than I thought I would, having to pay less than half per month than what they were asking for originally, but I wish I didn’t have to come to this.

Showing up to small claims court is like an admission of being poor.

If we could afford to pay our debts, we would have without it getting this far, but some people just can’t come up with that extra couple hundred dollars per month to pay off years-old debt, and I am one of those unfortunate few.

Actually, I’m not one of the few, I am one of the many.

40% of Americans can’t come up with $400 on the spot, and I am one of them.

Trust me, if I could pay off all my debt I would, just to get this weight off of my back, but now that I have settled with one creditor, I am living in fear that more of them will come after me and sue me because they think they can get something out of me now.

You can’t get water from stone, I kept telling myself.

But that isn’t the case.

They’ll take anything and everything they can, whether you can afford it or not, because they just don’t care about people’s lives, they only care about getting their money.

What makes it even more humiliating is to know that I’m being essentially scammed, because this firm surely bought my debt for pennies on the dollar.

But now, there is nothing I can do.

I admit that I owe the debt — I do.

Now, I have to start paying it.

I suppose I can admit that I’m getting what has been coming to me, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less — my pride or my wallet — and I pray that I don’t ever have to go through the humiliation again of standing up in front of a courtroom full of people to explain that I’m too poor to handle these payments.

Being poor sucks.

I’m just glad that this part is over with, and now I can start parting with more money without this court-cloud hanging over my head.

I hope you never have to go through this.

My advice: don’t use credit cards.

Because life throws you curveballs, and you never know when you might not be able to afford to pay them off anymore.

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I write about relationships and parenting, life, society, people, and sometimes also beer.

Connecticut State

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