Do you know James Dewberry, ex-US Army sergeant in Europe and more recently a personal fitness trainer in New Mexico and South Carolina? Have you ever lent him any money? If so, did you have trouble getting it back? One of our writers did!
March 2010 -
We figure that if someone doesn't honour a debt then he deserves a place on 'Welsher's Wall'.
James borrows £1,440 (about $2000 at that time) from me to pay for his PADI Dive Instructor's Course while we are on the island of Utila, just off the coast of Honduras. He seems like a good guy, and the diving fraternity there seems to trust him, so I figure, 'Why not?'
He borrows it with a steely gaze, a firm handshake, a lockerful of military assurances ('army code of conduct...', 'man of honour...', 'never leave a buddy in trouble...') and a promise to repay it within a few months 'as a top priority'. He plans to qualify as a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor, work as a Dive Instructor in a Utila dive shop and pay me back in a short time. I'm satisfied with that.
June 2010 -
Having passed his PADI Instructor course, James becomes disillusioned with the idea of working in Utila. He tells me that he has no money and can no longer afford to remain on the island, so he must return home and work in America as a fitness instructor. He returns to the States but promptly takes an expensive vacation in Hawaii with his girlfriend! WTF? Hmm... How did he afford that if he couldn't pay me back in Utila?
In the months that follow he makes no attempt to repay the debt, although he sends me occasional chatty emails. He is in Santa Fe, New Mexico, working out a lot of the time at Krav Maga and A.B.'s Evolve Fitness
June 2011 -
A year has passed so I'm getting a little concerned. I ask James about repayment. He tells me he has no money but that 'repaying you is always on my mind'. Hmm, so that's alright then...!
October 2011 -
Sudden crisis! Eighteen months after lending him the money I suddenly run into very serious financial trouble of my own. A project overruns leaving me with no money and no income until it finishes. With my credit cards and overdraft maxed out I'm struggling to pay even for food at the grocery store. In desperation I ask James to repay me, in any way he can. He says he'll try.
By now I have no way to contact James Dewberry other than via Facebook, because he has moved house and email provider and somehow failed to give me his new contact details despite my requests for them. Requests for his contact deatils are met with excuses or deafeing silnces. Hmm...
November 2011 -
After loads of messages and requests for money he finally sends me £620, explaining that he can't send any more because he has absolutely no money and can't raise another penny without selling his truck. He promises to repay the rest as soon as he gets his hands on some money. Meanwhile, I'm in desperate trouble because £620 isn't anywhere near enough to get me in the clear. I wait for him to come up with more money.
Early 2012 -
After months of silence, James suddenly takes off with his girlfriend for an extensive travelling trip lasting most of the year. He travels through Central America, stopping en route
to get his teeth fixed, and then on to South America where he tours around sightseeing and posting pictures of himself on Facebook. He is gone for most of 2012. During the same time I borrow money from friends to keep my bank from foreclosing.
After he returns to the States I write to James - several times - asking for immediate repayment or some indication of when he will clear the debt. His responses are all in a similar, flat tone: 'Situation unchanged. I've no money. When I've got some, you can have it'.
He tells me that his latest plan to repay the debt is to publish a bestselling novel and send me the proceeds. As James has never written a book before, and as his messages are littered with weird syntax and spelling errors, I can't help feeling that this plan lacks a solid foundation and that maybe I shouldn't rely on it too heavily...
By now, my faith in James is hanging by a thread. In addition to being pissed off that he toured South America on my dollar, and amazed by his wispy book-publishing-repayment plan, I've discovered that James seems to exist in a grey netherworld of half-truth. For example, on Facebook he announces that he's gotten married (when he hasn't) and his published birth date there doesn't accord with the date he told me. James seems to exist in a fantasy world where he is the main character traversing a fictional universe. Hmm ...
September 2014 -
After four and a half years, I ask James to stop bullshitting and pay up if he really intends to pay his 'honour debt' (as he has referred to it several times). I'm feeling righteous, having recently finished repaying the bank and my friends all the money they lent me to help me out two years earlier. I figure it's time to settle accounts. James' debt is now so old that he could have paid me back at the rate of $1.20 a day! I express doubts that he ever intends to pay me, despite his promises, and ask if he's waiting for me to get fed up enough to write off the debt.
James' reply is: 'Of course I intend to pay you, but I've no money. If I'd had any money over the last four years I'd have paid you.' Strange words from someone who took an expensive vacation in Hawaii and went to South America for nine months during the same period!
A few days later James quietly deletes his Facebook profile leaving me with no way to contact him.
So that's it. Adios James Dewberry and the rest of my money! Clearly James' definition of an 'honour debt' differs from mine. I ask around about James and discover that he owes $750 to someone else, also from 2010, and that they've abandoned hope of getting it back. It seems he also owes money to others... Hmm...
If you know where James is and fancy collecting the residue of my debt, you can have it. The amount is £827 (or about $1295 at current exchange rates).
Alternatively, if you have some info on his whereabouts, please mail it in:
and please write "JAMES DEWBERRY INFORMATION !!" in the subject line so we can find it amongst all the spam we get :o) Thanks!
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