“Repo Reality TV” and the Three Stooges


Monkey see, monkey do. Or so the saying goes. At least that was the rationale my mother used in her seemingly paranoid belief that I shouldn’t have been watching The Three Stooges. In her parental fear that I might take to hitting other kids in the neighborhood over the head with hammers or poking them in the eyes, she would claim that the show was dangerous in that I might imitate them. While that never stopped me from watching them, I’ll never forget how bizarre the concept was even at the tender age of five years old.

I never thought I’d say it, but maybe my mother was right. For over a year now, I’ve been chronicling incidents of violence, injury and death in the repossession industry, most of which performed upon the industry by the general public. Unfortunately, sometimes these incidents are conducted by people either in the industry or on the fringes of it. Needless to say, these “wanna-be” repo men, have to learn the trade from somewhere.

We all learned to pick locks, slim a car open or hook a car from someone. While these skills are essential, the most important things were the things I learned about how to behave in the field. After all, if no one told you, how would you learn? The same holds true for the general public.

Since the inception of the recession, which is reportedly over, based upon the measurement of GDP, many people who had never been in the crosshairs of collections activity, let alone repossessions, have been exposed to these unfortunate experiences. High unemployment rates and inflation on stagnant incomes have pressed many from the middle class into dire financial straits of which they are unaccustomed. We’ve seen everything from cops to teachers acting out in ways more resembling an episode of “Cops” rather than the seemingly pillars of society that their professions represent to the average person.

It is in this new exposure to the negative financial elements that the worst seems to be brought out of people. People who may have been living in a state of denial that they could be the subject of a repossession. I can very easily see how shocking it could be to wake up to the reality that, for often no fault of their own, they are failing to meet their financial obligations and have become the subject of finalization procedures.

And like I mentioned before, this also holds true on the other side of the fence as well. Many people with no experience jumped into the collections and repossession industry and often with disturbing results.

I suppose it’s a little understandable that adrenaline gets flowing and the “fight or flight” mechanisms kick in on either side of the driveway in the middle of the night, but the frequency of these incidents seems to go beyond my earlier explanation.

Let’s face it, the average person is pretty gullible. They’ll believe just about anything they see on TV. What they pass off as reality TV is merely a series of camera shots taken both in and out of sequence in order to raise the dramatic elements of the desired story line the producers and directors want to use for entertainment purposes. Without it, reality TV would be just as mundane as watching me drink coffee and reading the news in the morning. Fact of the matter is, the average repossession is fairly boring and uneventful for everyone except the repossessor who knows that every assignment is a roll of the dice as far as the possibility of an incident.

Now, take the new masses exposed to the repossession industry for their first time and expose them to reality TV in it’s most ridiculous and unbelievable form and it’s like gasoline on a fire. Regardless of how stupid and unbelievable shows like “Operations Repo”, “Lizard Lick Towing” and “Bear Swamp Recovery” look, in both the foolish bloated characters and bad acting, people believe this garbage. Seriously, go look up their fan pages or Google on “is Operation Repo real” and you’ll find morons out there eating this dog food up.

It seems as though the newly exposed public has been taught very poorly by television and those naïve and or stupid students of the boob tube have taken up camp in both the repossession industry and their humble residences where they sit like programmed killers from “The Manchurian Candidate” just waiting for their subliminal messages to leap into action with a gun, bat, knife or a simple lawn “wrasslin” episode upon the appearance of a tow truck in their driveway or their neighbors for that matter.

Just as disturbing are the dumb “Bubba’s” programmed with the same kinds of images and ideas that climb into trucks every night just itching to fight anyone stepping out to discuss the repossession with them or so ridiculously scared that they speed away unaware of the people in the vicinity or that of the borrowers. There’ve been far too many tragedies on this side of the driveway too.

Had the writers in the 40’s or 50’s so desired, I can very easily imagine an episode of The Three Stooges where the trio are rolling down the road in a tow truck and pulling up to a house with the car destined for repossession in the driveway. Use your imagination, it’s not hard at all, just replace Larry, Curly and Moe with “Reverand Ron” or any of the clowns from any of the other shows.

Will these shows ever end? Sure, someday. But not as long as the public keeps sucking this dribble up. I’m afraid the public psyche has already been damaged. I honestly don’t see anyone out there that will be able to do a damn thing about it. It’s free speech, just like The Three Stooges and the whiz kids at TruTV are raking in the dough and laughing so hard they’re wetting their pants all the way to the bank.

People do come to imitate what they see, especially in the absence of anything to offset it with anything resembling dignity, respect or understanding.

I guess my mother was right after all. Perhaps just a little ahead of her time. I just never could have imagined I would have learned this lesson like this.







Kevin Armstrong



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