Next door to us is a fourplex apartment complex. We know the residents of three of those apartments and two of them have been here longer than we have. We haven’t really ever talked at length with any of them because they are all Spanish speakers and also my Spanish is pretty good, it’s difficult to carry on a conversation. But we’re friendly, say “hola” and are otherwise good neighbors to each other.
One couple, Nancy and, well, I don’t even know her husbands name, used to have an older man living with them. We didn’t really know who he was, but he, too, was very friendly and always waved and said, “hola”. In retrospect, we haven’t seen him in a while.
Nancy came over this morning in tears and handed me a letter and explained (in Spanish) that she needed to ask my help and thought it would be easier for both of us if she give me a letter (in English) that explained her situation. At the time I was struggling with Oliver who had just fallen and was crying so I told her I would read it and get back to her.
With angst in her eyes she told me she needed to hear back from me by noon.
So after I put Oliver to bed, I read the letter. It explained that the older man who had been living with them was her father who had formerly lived in New Jersey. Apparently he had 1) been involved in a car accident and 2) had a stroke (I can attest to the stroke as when he arrived here he was hardly able to walk). She went out to help him and ended up bringing him back here with her, thereby missing his court date.
At some point he needed to renew his green card and sought the advice of an attorney, who told him to go back to New Jersey and rectify the situation. Apparently INS realized there was a warrant for his arrest and incarcerated him.
So in her letter she explained that the bail was $8000 for her father to be released. Her lawyer had found a bail bond company that would allow her to put down 15% if she could find a homeowner to cosign.
So basically she was asking us to cosign. She assured us that since she was 8-months pregnant, she wasn’t going any where and that her father wouldn’t flee because his life was too good in the U.S. and he would never think of disappearing on someone who had helped him.
Unfortunately we’re not in a position to cosign for them as we used our house as collateral to buy the interior design firm.
But I asked Nancy if perhaps the bail bonds place would substitute a higher percentage of payment for the cosigning. I told her I may be able to help with $1000 by putting it on a credit card if they were willing to do so.
She said she had an appointment with her lawyer at noon and would get back to me.
Now, am I being kind and caring or am I just being stupid? I’m a pretty good judge of character and Nancy and her husband really are kind people, based upon our limited interactions.
Having said that, I also know that money and relationships don’t mix. We will have absolutely no assurance, other than verbal, that they will pay the money back. I am also only making 66% of my income while I’m on disability leave, so things are a little tight around here.
But maybe that’s not important? Maybe this is an opportunity for me to help someone I know (a little)?
I’m absolutely torn about this. What are your thoughts?