The Pebble in the Shoe

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December 5, 2013 by Jim C.

 I recently came across this title of a book by Jim Fannin.  While I haven’t read the book I suspect the author is alluding to “Pebbles” as unresolved thoughts, images and experiences in a person’s life.  What immediately came to my mind as an “image” is not the pebble in my shoe, but the pebble in the shoe of a consumer. Well get back to this image in a moment. 

 I’d guess that 100% of shoe wearing persons have had this experience, literally, of a pebble in their shoe which is a real distraction of the moment until it is removed.  Ever run a race or take a walk with a pebble in your shoe?  Even the smallest of small pebbles, a grain if you will, is enough to take your focus off the goal and put it directly on that shoe.  We all know that the only way to resolve this is to stop whatever you are doing, take off the shoe and remove the pebble.  How many times do you try to put off the inevitable of stopping what you are doing to remove that pebble?  Do you try to think of something else, or hope the pebble shifts to a different spot in the shoe, or magically goes away just like the way it arrived?  Ignoring the pebble may cause it to blister and maybe even become infected.  One thing is for certain, by ignoring this situation it will only go from bad to worse and sooner or later you will need to address the culprit and the resulting consequences.  We all know what the only real fix in this situation is: Stop what you are doing, remove the shoe and shake it out!  When the shoe is then replaced the pebble is gone and the burden is lifted!  A literal smile returns and you can now refocus on the goal or job at hand. 

 Ok, so there’s the image for you.  Now let’s relate this to the business of debt collection.  The book asks “What’s your Pebble?”  My answer to this could be:  An unpaid debt.  When an unpaid debt becomes delinquent and is referred for collection that is when the little pebble will begin to grow.  If not taken care of quickly that “pebble” can grow both metaphorically—in the form of print mail notices and telephony reminders—and literally in the form of added court fees and interest. Unfortunately, the pebble (i.e. debt) is more often than not, ignored!  The pebble, in its early stage is simply uncomfortable, but as time marches that uncomfortable feeling becomes worse.  Just as a debt placed in collection, in the early stage isn’t such a bad thing; you may receive a call from a friendly customer service rep asking for payment trying to work out an amicable solution for both the consumer and the creditor, or you will receive a letter requesting payment and advising of your rights under the laws as they exist today.  By addressing the debt sooner rather than later you avoid further expense, embarrassment and derogatory information placed in the credit record.  The pebble is removed – the debt is paid…Life is good!  (again, easier said than done).  Unfortunately the greater share of consumers will allow that pebble to blister and develop an infection.  This is the point where legal action may begin.  If so,there will be additional expenses (the consumer bears) which could have been avoided in the early stage if paid.  This only becomes more expensive when a wage garnishment is filed.  This pebble has now become a serious infection!  Sleep may be difficult, attitude is poor, and life isn’t good while this pebble sits in your shoe without being addressed.  At a certain point one may find it best to address the pebble head on, shake it out (i.e. pay the debt or make some kind of payment arrangement to resolve it.)  When that occurs, I have been told by many a debtor that Life Is Good, again! So, the next time you have a pebble in your shoe you should ask yourself:  Did I forget to pay a bill?

Jim Cox is Vice-President and co-owner of United Credit Service, Inc.

Founded in 1950, United Credit Service, Inc. is a full service revenue cycle management and debt collection agency in Wisconsin providing highly effective, customized one on one management and recovery solutions for our business partners. Visit our website at or call 877-723-2902


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