After discussing reasons why you should or shouldn't give up your job, POSSUM LIVING gives you details about the cheapest ways with the best results to buy and maintain your own home, dress well, cope with the law, stay healthy, and keep up a middle-class facade--whether you live in the city, in the suburbs, or in a small town. In a delightful, straightforward style, Dolly Freed explains how to be lazy, proud, miserly, and honest, live well, and enjoy leisure. She shares her knowledge of what you do need--your own home, for example--and what you don't need--such as doctors, lawyers, and insurance. And she has a lot of realistic advice about saving money, as well as practical information about
* Be sure you're right and your adversary is wrong. These methods work only on people having a guilty conscience.
* Keep your goal clearly in mind. The goal is to get your money back, or get the guy to stop hassling you, or whatever. The goal is not revenge or an ego trip, or an excuse to vent your spleen.
* Go only so far as is necessary to attain the goal. Give him a chance to do the right thing. His guilty conscience is your best ally, but if you overdo it right off the bat, before he has a chance to reevaluate his position, his guilt feelings will be replaced by outrage, and the situation could get out of hand.
You must proceed intelligently. If you can't control your temper, you're going to blow the game. A friend of ours--a hot-tempered man--lost his cool and threatened his wife's lawyer in open court. He not only lost the suit, he also spent thirty days in jail for contempt of court and making threats.
If possible, call your adversary on the phone during normal business hours. Calmly and dispassionately explain your position. Don't threaten him.
Give him a reasonable length of time to think over his position.
Call him again--preferably late at night--and curse and threaten him. Do not identify yourself or refer to anything that you alone might know. (He'll recognize your voice from the other call, but won't be able to prove it.) Do not repeat the call--once is enough for your purpose. Do not specifically say when or where the trouble he is in for is going to occur. If ever accused of this call, deny it.
Now comes the hard part-you have to convince him he's vulnerable.
* Visit his house late at night
and do something to let him know he has an enemy who has no intention of playing the game by his rules. (If you don't know his address, look it up at the courthouse. I explained how on page 133.) Do not take a weapon or anything that could be called a weapon that you wouldn't want to discard if necessary. Go on foot. I'm going to leave it to your imagination as to what to do when you get there. However, some people say that houses have windows, and others have it that bricks may be found. And cars are often left out at night and might have their tires about them at such times. And still others say telephone lines run outside of houses and are thin. And I've heard that penknives are sharp. Don't be in a hurry--look the situation over for potential. Perhaps he has a dog, so you might want to take along some liver or meat to befriend it. If the dog is downright vicious, come back another time and poison it. It's no sin to kill a vicious animal, and it will make your adversary feel more vulnerable.
* It's perfectly legal for you to knock on his door because you want to talk over the difficulty, as long as you don't use threatening or abusive terms or he hasn't sworn out a peace bond on the matter. (Don't show anger under any circumstances--better act simple.) The mere knowledge that you are concerned enough to go to so much trouble (and know where to get him) might be enough to give him pause to reevaluate his position. Let's hope so, so you don't have to come back another time, and also to save him trouble. If he orders you to leave, do so immediately--your mere appearance has accomplished your purpose. If the cops show up, dispassionately explain that you were upset and merely wanted to discuss the matter. Remember--you're simple. Don't show any emotion except perhaps despair--the cops are human and will merely wish to be rid of you, if you only which give them the chance. If you don't seem threatening you'll simply be dismissed.
* Make no further contact with him for awhile. He'll be hyped up from the adrenalin discharge caused by the incident. In three days this will wear off. He'll then be depressed and fair game for his guilty conscience. Then, too, his family will want to know what's going on. His greed may override his guilt, but he may still be ashamed to let his loved ones know what a rat he is. Don't have scruples about getting his family involved--they do get the material benefits of his sordid dealings, you know. Let them know at what price in infamy they get their luxury.
* If he doesn't come around on his own, about four days after the incident call him during business hours and talk over the situation. Don't gloat. Don't admit or hint around that you did anything. Let him save face and chances are he'll let you talk him into taking a fairer stance. If he doesn't--go back to the third step. you may not want to do all this.
You may not be equipped to handle the adrenalin discharges involved. Or you may have ethical reservations. Those are two legitimate points. However, in many of these stressful legal hassles you're going to get your adrenalin stirred up one way or anyhow, so you might as well choose your own time and place rather than have the clerk of court appoint it for you. After all, who's managing your adrenalin discharges, you or some lousy clerk of court? And ethics boils down to justice--you're either just or unjust. If you're satisfied you're right--what do you care what some judge or other person thinks?
It's harmful to your health to have a worry hanging over your head for any length of time if you happen to be a certain physiological type of person. You need it to be settled. Cut the gordian knot! Our legal system is probably the best ever designed for the overall population it serves, but that fact is small consolation to us hyper-adrenalin citizens. The "law's delays" have been criticized at least since Shakespeare's time and are still a point of attention today. As Diogenes recognized, 2,300 years ago, "Justice is what all rational people want, and law is the substitute they are sometimes willing to accept. The best course is to avoid situations likely to lead to legal action, but failing that, settling out of court is the next best. But do it yourself.