It isn't every day you find out which crack your life slipped down twenty years ago.

A change-of-address form. Which either didn't get sent, or wasn't noticed if it did, who knows at this remove. But it turns out that that was why my college never contacted me to explain What Happens Now after I took some time off to regroup; no exit interview, no here's where you could go from here, and no by the way this is the paperwork for a $500 loan you may not have been told that you actually received that you'll have to settle at this point Because The Reasons.

You may be getting an inkling of where this story is going.

Contact was reestablished at least one intervening move later, by which point said forgotten loan was in collection and we wrote to ask College why we were getting letters about that when neither of us could recall seeing paperwork to the effect it had actually gone through in the first place. Oh, College said, we can't lay hands on your file, it might have been for this? (But I never did the this.)

We went into the office. College still couldn't find the file to sort out whether this was even my loan. So the question sort of... got left there, Eh, well, paperwork, what can you do. And there matters stood for a couple more moves, and twenty-two years, and $1200 in penalties-and-interest, until I finally got annoyed enough at having to explain this in response to the periodic collection letters that I went all the way into Mum's files and combed through the actual College paperwork such as we had myself.

And found the loan. Or at least something resembling it in the right amount on one obscure printout. And we went into College's office again, and they produced my file at long last, and in the file was the original unopened undelivered this is due now please letter that anyone could have shown us at any time since we started asking about this in 1994.

Some days it just does not pay to chew through the straps.

I'm not sure where this goes from here; we're talking to College about how to resolve this, starting with why didn't (several-finance-officers-ago) actually explain HOW to clear this as a disability case, which is where I'm currently hung up trying to figure out who my medical chain-of-command to prove any of that even is. (To sum up: Plan dropped $DOCTOR, I dropped Plan, New Plan said 'sure, have $DOCTOR', and then assigned me someone who's not $DOCTOR. Cue phone-tag hell...) I'd just go ahead and pay it off if I was remotely in any position to; College does seem willing enough to shoulder some blame for the part of the fees that have accrued since we originally tried to resolve this 20-odd years ago (the most recent offer from Collection is in the neighbourhood of $1200 instead of $1800 -- do other people's lives get so wrecked over amounts a CEO wouldn't even wipe their arse with? Or is that a stupid question these days?). But right now I'm at a spoonless ebb just trying to think about which thread of this to start unpicking first...
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