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What Is the Worst Bill You've Ever Had to Pay? 

Week of December 22, 2004

Phil Robinson
"Ethnocornologist," University of Missouri-St. Louis
"It was a renter's-permit fee, and [I was] asked all this personal information. See, in University City, before you rent you have to go to city hall and declare certain financial information, but in my mind that does not include a lot of personal questions about whether I'm married. They have stringent codes. I guess they're for the better, but probing people's personal business is just outrageous. It's like being forced to disrobe, sort of, in public."

Sarah Rosales
Shift Manager, Einstein Bros. Bagels
"Of my regular bills, the cell phone is the worst, because if you go over it's all these extra charges, and the service is still crappy. Once my cell-phone bill was $900: I went over that much. I had a minor-in-possession fine one time, and it was really hard to pay it, because the ticket read 'one 12-ounce bottle,' and to pay $270 dollars for one bottle of beer -- ridiculous. I could've thrown a three-day kegger with all my friends for that much."

Brian "Hop" Hopfinger
Bartender, Funny Bone Comedy Club -- Westport
"I had to pay a ticket for parking on Webster U.'s main parking lot, even though I'd bought a pass through the university to park there. They'd leased out so much parking space to the Rep, and the Rep was having a show that night, so the parking-ticket goons were on a spree. And they held my grades hostage until I paid the fine! They ought to be ashamed, shaking poor students down for fifteen bucks."

Orville Gordon
Maintenance Worker, United States Postal Service
"As a reservist I got activated after 9/11, and when that happens you fall under the Soldier-Sailor Relief Act, and that gives you a break on mortgage payments. But the lender didn't get notice, so the payments were in arrears, but not really. Still, they wanted their money, and twice I had to come up with two mortgage payments while on a fixed budget -- well, you put off other bills in order to have a roof over your head."

Sarah Boggeman
Delivery Driver and Quality-Control Taster, Racanelli's New York Pizzeria
"I'm still paying it! A $5,500 bill to St. Mary's from six years ago, when they stuck me in a hospital bed, fed me for two days and told me nothing was wrong. I'm down to about $4,500 now, and I'm probably never gonna get it down to zero."

Ken Schwartz
Attorney and Drag Bike Racer
"I just paid it -- the sewer bill on my former home. I called [the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District] right away and they told me that, yes, they have records that we're no longer in the house, and yes, they show the new owner living there, but for whatever reason I'm still getting the bill. In other words: I'm paying for them to shit in a toilet I no longer own."

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