One of my more interesting assignments back when I was process serving involved ambushing a weenie wagger on his way to church. I’m not making this up.
The situation was this; a not very gentlemanly gentleman was wagging his weenie at a local woman in a small Oregon town. After a certain number of provocations, the recipient of this behavior reported it to the police. The offender’s wife explained this behavior on the part of her husband as secondary to having been rejected as a lover by the recipient of the conduct who promptly sued for slander and everything else her lawyer could think of. By “promptly” I mean after the criminal charges had resulted in a guilty plea so liability had been established.
The problem for the lawyer bringing this suit was that the defendant was not cooperating in being served. Every time the process server knocked on the door, no one would answered it. The lawyer assumed his process server had been “made”. Rather than just continue this plan at considerable expense since the small town in question was a fair drive from just about everywhere else in the state, the lawyer decided to try someone else, which is how I got involved. The lawyer decided the defendant might answer the door to a different person so he hired me. The lawyer also suggested that since as far as could be determined, the defendant did not regularly leave the house for any specific activity except church, that I might be successful if I were to make my attempt as the man was on his way to services.
Now, I don’t normally interfere with people’s worship–not without extra pay–except for the time I ambushed a rabbi on his way to services, but hey we’re talking about a convicted weenie wagger not a merely allegedly weenie wagger.
So, off I went at the crack of dawn to a little town halfway between Portland and the Coast, papers in hand. The location of the man’s house was proof, yet again, that GPS won’t get you everywhere you need to be. The problem in this particular instance was that the house in question was on what they call a “flagpole” lot meaning it had a long driveway going back off the road and in fact, it was in back of another house and could not be seen from the road. Also, since the man’s conduct and subsequent convictions had made the local paper, he had taken his house numbers down.
After driving back and forth long enough to be convinced that the house had to be somewhere in the immediate vicinity, I turned down a driveway which appeared to be closest to where this house number was, if it actually existed which my GPS said it did. After finding a house in back of a house I decided this must be the place although I couldn’t find a house number. But, this is where it would have to be if it existed, this house right past the large sign that said, “beware of dog” with a picture of a Doberman on it.
Still seated in the car, I looked around carefully, no dog. I got out of the car and slammed the door loudly in the hopes of stirring any sleeping dog, and then quickly re-opened the door in case I needed to get in again. No dog. I shut the car door again. No dog. I found that to get to a door, I had to climb up a very long steep stairway. I got to the top of the stairway, now cut off from my car. No dog. Also, no lights. It was just eight o’clock in the morning, unlikely that my quarry was already off to church. Knocking produced nothing. I retreated back to the car. No dog.
Not wanting to admit failure or have to make a return trip out here, I went back into town and found a restaurant open for business and got one of the largest and best hash and eggs breakfasts I’d ever had which came with biscuits and a very good sausage gravy. After breakfast and my usual ten cups of coffee, I packed up the two-thirds of my remaining food (quality and quantity: the place is now out of business or I’d mention it by name) and headed back out to the house.
I got out of the car, started walking towards the stairs and guess what, a large dog. In fact, large not friendly looking Doberman. Oops. I froze. Fortunately, right behind the dog came the owner who perchance to be the man I was looking for, who accepted the papers and I was able to get back in the car without injury and zip-off mission accomplished. I spotted a doe and two fawns on my way back, got some good photos and gave my client the five dollar deer discount.
Here’s a tip about pricing process serving work. If the first question you get asked by the client is “do you own a gun?” charge more. I always do. By the way there are two questions I never answer; do I own a gun and do I carry a gun. I think it better to let people get the answer as a surprise. I will admit to not having shot anyone, yet. The last time I was asked that by a lawyer who wanted me to serve papers, I inquired as to why this was being asked, and was told that the person being sued had broken his tenant’s jaw with a crowbar-hence the lawsuit. I did agree to do the serve, and luckily for me, was able to serve the assailant’s teenage daughter who didn’t try to hurt me, but just took the papers. Yes. I got extra for that one anyway.
This lawyer was considerate enough to let me know that this serve might be trouble; meaning I might end up being severely assaulted with a blunt instrument. I appreciate getting a heads up in cases of this kind. Not everyone does that.
For example, Nationwide asked me to serve papers on a man in Beaverton and told me that this guy was probably the only seven-foot tall black man in Beaverton not a member of the Portland Trailblazers, so if he denied who he was, I should drop serve him. I was also told he might evade as he had warrants out for his arrest.
So, off I went to find this dude. I was curious as to why he might have warrants out for his arrest, so I thought I’d read the documents I was to serve on him in case they shed light on this issue, which was unlikely. He was probably getting sued for failure to pay his electric bill. No so. He was being sued for civil damages for being an accessory to a murder by torture. I’m not making this stuff up.
According to the lawsuit, this man’s dubious friends suspected an acquaintance of stealing some tools so they tortured him to get him to tell them what he had done with the tools, which didn’t produce any tools, but the victim died, and the man I was supposed to be serving with papers had helped hide the crime and apparently locate the tools which had not been stolen. Since he was not charged with committing the murders, but only helping his murderous friends, he had been released on bail, which he had skipped out on hence the warrant for his arrest. I could picture him not wanting to be arrested, and not responding well to a knock on the door.
Just in case he had a gun as well as an attitude, when I located his apartment, I made sure to stand well to the side of the door before knocking. I knocked and jerked out-of-the-way, half expecting a shotgun blast through the door. Fortunately, for me, he was not home.
I never did find him home, and eventually returned the papers for re-billing. I have no idea how that story–thank God.
Another person I never found home was the dentist. This was one of two residences that in all my years of work I refused to return to. It was a beautiful home, right down on the Willamette River under a stand of ancient evergreens. Whomever had built the place had seemingly robbed a church to do as the place had numerous stained glass windows with religious themes. A little odd, but very beautiful. Standing on the doorstep, waiting for someone to answer, I glanced down at the papers and saw the basis of complaint was assault. I read on a bit further. He was being civilly sued for assaulting his wife, breaking numerous bones. There was also a description of him on the field sheet–six-foot six inches tall, heavy-set. Oddly enough, that was not what spooked me off this serve. After I got in the car, I had a mental picture of the man sitting at his kitchen table, his head blown off with a shot-gun a self-inflicted wound. I have no idea why that image came to me. I turned the papers in and never came back.
Sometimes I get some interesting serve notes on the field sheet, like the one that said “he lives in the woods with a bunch of heavily armed Neo-Nazis so try to serve him at work.” I do have more dog stories, and some gun stories, but those are tales for another time. Here’s a hint, though. If you’re out in the boondocks where your cell doesn’t work and there aren’t any other houses in the area and no one knows where you are and you get a gun in the face–do try to be polite. I’m not making this up.