Tuesday, April 5, 2016
My Life With Comic Books: Part # 201
A brief introduction:
My name is Paul Howley, owner of the Eisner Award winning pop culture collector’s store known as “That’s Entertainment” in Worcester, Massachusetts and a second store in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Some people have called me the “luckiest man in the comic book business.” (I’m not) My stores have been around for over thirty years and it’s been a long and interesting combination of events and people that have brought these stores to this current place. It is not my intent to boast or brag about my store or my life. I just want to tell you my story. In many instances, my wife remembers things a little differently, but this is the truth as I remember it.
The current cast of characters:
Paul Howley: age 48
Mal Howley: age 48
Adam Howley: my son, age 21
Cassy Howley: my daughter, age 17
MY LIFE WITH COMIC BOOKS: THE HISTORY OF A COMIC SHOP: Part #201
After Adam’s accident, we began to receive bills from the local community hospital where the paramedics had brought Adam’s body. Adam had died in the car, but at that time, paramedics could not “pronounce” someone dead without a doctor being involved. So, about a month after his death, the hospital began sending the bill to our address. It was upsetting to see Adam’s name on the envelope. I called the hospital billing department and I explained that Adam was an adult so I shouldn’t be responsible for the bills. He had insurance that covered eighty percent and the final balance would not be paid. They apologized and told me to ignore the bill.
The next month we received another bill for the same amount. I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt…perhaps this bill was already processed before I had communicated with the billing department. I called them and they told me (again) to disregard the bill and they’d be sure to stop sending the bill to me.
The next month, when I received the bill again, I went down to the hospital to speak to someone “in charge” to settle this. The people I spoke with seemed interested in getting this straightened out and by the time I left the hospital I felt confident that this was settled. But, of course, it wasn’t.
The next month, not only did I get another bill for the exact same amount, I now got a “demand notice” with the threat of the bill being turned over to a collection agency if I didn’t pay the bill right away. I made another trip to the billing department at the hospital and explained that if they didn’t stop billing me, I’d start looking into their outrageously expensive charges, including the charges for two sets of chest x-rays and the charges for TWO doctors to examine the x-rays of my already-dead son. I also made sure to remind them that I have no legal obligation to pay this bill. The head of the department assured me that he understood and he’d personally see to it that I would no longer be billed for these expenses.
Amazingly, I did not get another bill the next month! But I did get a phone call from a lawyer claiming to be representing the hospital and the collection agency. She was demanding that I take care of this bill right away. I explained to her that I have NO legal responsibility for this bill because Adam was an independent adult. She threatened to put a lien against Adam’s estate. I sarcastically laughed at her and told her that Adam’s “estate” consisted of some used music CDs and about six pairs of baggy-jeans. I told her, “If the hospital is that desperate for money, you’re welcome to come over and pick out some things you’re interested in.”
Instantly, her attitude changed. She said, “Would you like me to represent you in a lawsuit against the truck driver and the trucking company who collided with your son’s car?”
I replied, “Why would I sue them? My son collided with them. It wasn’t the truck driver’s fault!”
The lawyer explained, “Very few trucking companies properly maintain their vehicles so they COULD be found liable.”
“You’re a disgusting weasel,” I exclaimed. “How do you live with yourself?!”
That was the last I heard from the hospital and their legal representatives. Now, I’m sure that there are a few nice, competent people working at that hospital. I personally know two doctors and a few nurses who work there and they seem professional and courteous. But for me, after three terrible experiences with incompetent and rude employees, I’m DONE with this local hospital.
Since Adam had no legal will prepared, I needed to hire a lawyer to “settle” his estate. Adam had no money and he didn’t own any property but it still took nearly a year to go through probate court. It was a relief to have that unpleasant part of this over.