The Nose

The Nose: What happens when a debt collector calls the state? Just imagine ...

(Disclaimer: No, state government phones aren’t tapped. But if they were, this would be a transcript of a conversation provided to The Sniff by an unnamed source.)

Somewhere in Olympia, a phone rings.

Voice: Hello?

Collector: Hello, am I speaking to Washington state government?

Voice: Who is this?

C: This is Hope. This is a debt collection call. I’m calling on behalf of the local, state and federal courts.

Voice: Just a moment, let me transfer you.

(Hold music: New Age synths)

State Legislature: Hello?

C: Hello, is this the Washington State Legislature?

SL: Who is this?

C: This is Hope. This is a debt collection call. I’m calling on behalf of the courts. SL: No speak English? Lorem ipsum? C: Excuse me?

C: This is Hope. This is a debt collection call. I’m calling on behalf of the courts.

SL: No speak English? Lorem ipsum?

C: Excuse me?

SL: (Sounds of crinkling paper) I think we have a bad connection. I’m getting a lot of static.

C: We’re calling to collect $30 million in fines that you’ve incurred because you haven’t fixed public school funding. The fines have been increasing every day since 2014. How would you like to pay that today, by cash or card?

SL: Don’t try to play that game. I know how that works. You have no power here, you insignificant gnat. This is the Legislature!

C: Would you like to make an arrangement to pay your bill later in the week?

SL: Oh, very clever. I’ve heard that before. Who’s your supervisor? I’m an attorney. I’m gonna have your job.

C: I told you I’m calling on behalf of the courts. In addition to the school funding, you’ve also incurred numerous fines for failing to treat mentally prisoners stuck in jail.

SL: Hey, genius — not our problem! Get it? That’s the the Department of Social and Health Services! Don’t you people even know the right numbers to call? I’ll transfer you now, even though I don’t have to.

(Hold music: death metal)

DSHS: Hello?

C: Hello, this is Hope. This is a debt collection call from the courts.

DSHS: (Whispering) Can’t you leave us alone? Please, please stop.

C: You’ve been ordered by the courts to pay these fines.

C: Hello, this is Hope. This is a debt collection call from the courts. DSHS: (Whispering) Can’t you leave us alone? Please, please stop. C: You’ve been ordered by the courts to pay these fines.

DSHS: (Wailing) WE KNOW! We know! It’s not our fault. Can’t you understand that? We’re giving all your money to the attorneys to fight you! We don’t have anything to spare for the inmates. We’re trying to fix it, and we just stopped you from putting us in jail!

C: The fines are increasing every day. Would you like to pay by cash or credit today?

DSHS: Oh god. Look, it’s the Legislature’s fault. They’re the ones telling us to do everything on the cheap. Let me transfer you.

(Hold music: sad emo ballads)

State Legislature: Hello?

C: Hello, this is Hope. This is a debt-collection call on behalf of the courts.

SL: If you call here again, I’m calling the attorney general. Do you understand?

C: You know, collection agencies did just give a big chunk of money to the Senate Republican campaign.

SL: What? Wait. Who is this again?

C: This is Hope.

SL: (Smooth) Oh, hello, Hope. I remember you. You were at the campaign kickoff with your charming family. It was 2.5 children, right?

C: You may have confused me with a different Hope.

SL: Not at all, not at all. I’ve always been a big fan. It’s so hard to run a business these days, what with all these crippling regulations. I mean, you’re just trying to collect lawfully incurred debts, that’s all. I don’t know why people have a problem with that. No one cares about personal responsibility anymore.

C: That’s a good point. That’s why I’m calling.

SL: You know, I’ve got a great idea. We need to hook you up with the Department of Transportation. It’s amazing what a hard time they’re having collecting toll payments from these deadbeats who don’t care about the rule of law. They’re running a program that might be very interesting to you.

C: But…

SL: I’ll transfer you now. And thanks so much for your contribution.

FEAR THE WALKING DEAD?

Those shambling steps … the low, raspy moan … the sound of decayed fingernails scraping the door … what is it?

Aaaggh! It’s Tony Ventrella and his resurrected Eighth District congressional campaign, back from the grave! The ex-sportscaster, once famous for being far fitter than longtime rival Wayne Cody, announced his campaign in April, then dropped out in July, too late to remove his name from the list of Democratic contenders seeking a chance to get creamed by incumbent Republican Dave Reichert in November.

But then — horror! — Ventrella, coasting on name familiarity and the stubborn minority voting bloc of old local sportscast supporters, actually outpointed (insert alternate TV sportscast verb here) his lesser-known rivals, after urging voters to pick them instead. Sneaky!

But then -- horror! -- Ventrella, coasting on name familiarity and the stubborn minority voting bloc of old local sportscast supporters, actually outpointed (insert alternate TV sportscast verb here) his lesser-known rivals, after urging voters to pick them instead. Sneaky!

“I thought, ‘Holy cow, now what do we do?’ ” Ventrella told the Fishwrap this week, after telling supporters to send small donations to his campaign war chest, which is flush with empty air, compared with Reichert’s cool $1 million.

Obligatory sports metaphor paragraph: Ventrella says he’s in this to win it now (insert alternate sportscast cliché here), and he’s trying to make a game of it for the sake of his unlooked-for support, but it’s hard to see him catching up to the Reichert juggernaut at this stage.

Oh, Tony. You’re so darned nice it’s almost no fun to mock you — almost. The Sniff knows about your keynote schtick on the red-hot Seattle speaking circuit. Your signature speech is titled “Smile in the Mirror.”

Don’t — please don’t say it now — not with the fraying khakis, the flecks of dirt, that empty eye socket and the missing teeth. Somewhere, deep in the cul-de-sacs of the Eighth District, a remnant of the electorate is screaming.

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