How Twitter saved me from the bailiffs
Let me tell you a story.
It was a chilly evening when I arrived home late last Tuesday from a business trip. The house was empty, which was no surprise, seeing as my flatmate was on annual leave from work and therefore getting in on some big-time mattress action at the boyfriend’s place.
I dumped my overnight bag, shucked off my suit jacket and loosened my tie, then went to the doormat to gather the post.
I squinted in the low light at an official looking document I’d gathered up amongst the takeaway menus and boring circulars from the bank.
My stomach dropped through the floor as I read the words at the top of the page:
HIGH COURT ENFORCEMENT AND CERTIFICATED BAILIFFS
Now, I’m a good boy and I pay all my bills (pretty much) on time, so I knew it must be some sort of mistake. A closer inspection revealed it was actually for my landlord, who’s very kindly giving his rental property — my home — as his address.
It’s weird; I’m never one to panic over things like this — the ‘big’ stuff doesn’t faze me. Bad service in shops or restaurants? Running late or being kept waiting? Yep — guaranteed rant-fodder. But tell me my house just burnt down and I’m cooler than a penguin on skis.
But hey, nobody wants to be confronted with a letter that basically says: “Hey! Guess what? Bailiffs came to your house today because they wanted to take all your stuff! Yaaay!”
Not exactly the welcome home I’d expected.
Now allow me for a second to digress. I promise it’ll make sense in a sec.
Throughout my love affair with the internet, one thing remains constant:
I love Twitter.
Ask anyone who’s ever tried to wrench me away from my BlackBerry for more than five minutes and they’ll confirm that I’m a bona-fide addict. I’ve lost count of the amount of times my friends have turned to me and screamed: “Stop bloody tweeting!”
So naturally — out of frustration rather than fear — I stood in my kitchen and tweeted the following:
“Fucking wonderful. Have just arrived home to find that bailiffs have visited while I’ve been away because my landlord hasn’t paid his bills.”
Within five minutes, my long-time friend Mike (LondonVoiceover), had seen the tweet, called me and put me on the phone to his ex-partner and now close friend Jules, who happens to be a top lawyer type. Jules outlined the law and my rights, and told me he would put me in touch with a solicitor if I needed one.
One of my followers, misterebby, saw the tweet and linked me up with his friend StumpyKim, who’d had a similar experience. I also got detailed tweets from TrevorCosson and dizzy84 telling me what to do.
BradDMason was in his office in Toronto, Canada when he read the tweet, and proceeded to Google UK tenancy laws, which he then tweeted to me.
And when you’re standing in your kitchen after a 5:30am start and half a day of travelling, thinking: “I really don’t need this” — even hearing a simple “sorry to hear that/big hug/hope everything’s OK” from people is kind of nice.
A while ago I wrote about how Facebook is controlling your relationships.
For me, Twitter does the opposite. While I never forget the fact that it’s a virtual social network, it’s a far more accurate reflection of what happens during ‘real’ socialising than Facebook.
It’s like being in a bar full of people. Some know each other well, some in passing, and others not at all.
You can wander around and dip into others’ conversations as you please. If they don’t float your boat, you move on.
You’ve got the attention seekers, the jokers, the idiots, the loudmouths and the just plain barking. You can choose the people you engage with and those you smile at politely and ignore.
And if you want to break off into a virtual corner and have a private chat, you’ve always got the option of direct messages.
Twitter ‘friendships’ happen naturally; you’re not forced to cement them by declaring to the world: “X and I have MADE FRIENDS!” Can you imagine if someone chatted to you for ten minutes and then said: “Are we friends now? Can I have that in writing?” before forcing you to look at 300 photos of them?
I’ve met some wonderful people on Twitter, one very special person in particular. So while I stick to my original claim that you should never substitute a virtual circle for real live friends, being connected with people on Twitter is like carrying my friends in my pocket wherever I go.
And who wouldn’t want that?
The next day, after a considerable number of phonecalls and a lot of hold music, I managed to sort the intricacies of getting the heavies off my back and away from my front door.
So while Twitter didn’t exactly save me from the bailiffs, it certainly helped me sleep more soundly that night.
And you’ve got to admit — it was a pretty good headline, wasn’t it? ;)
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