Robert Toggenburg

Kathryn Lynch


© Copyright 2018 by Kathryn Lynch


Photo of Robert Toggenburg.

Itís amazing how our four footed friends can help us solve problems and make life easier.

It began when the Old Lady became annoyed by the repeated mailings from the Registrar's Office, urging the homeowner to register to vote. She was already a registered voter so the mailings were a waste of her time and of taxpayer money, by using county personnel to process these documents and pay for the postage. She called them once to straighten it out, but the solicitations still kept coming.

So it was, that one day the Old Lady sat down to fill in a registration form, using the name of "Robert Toggenburg" as the resident. "Bob" actually lived on the property a few feet from her trailer. He was a Toggenburg goat, a friendly, bearded male who spent his days foraging for greens and chewing his cud. She signed his name at the bottom with a flourish and sent the form on its way.

Toggenburg's Voter Registration card was delivered in the mail shortly thereafter and the solicitation forms stopped.

The Old Lady created a file, placing the name "Robert Toggenburg" on the label. It joined her important papers in the cupboard.

A Summons for Jury Duty arrived in the mail for Robert Toggenburg. The Old Lady found amusement imagining herself leading the big goat into the courtroom to report for duty. However, she knew full well the trouble she would be in if she pulled such a stunt. The Summons was placed in the file with the Voter Registration card, and she did nothing.

The Jury Commissioner at the Courthouse was tired of prospective jurors who didn't show up when summoned for duty. She asked the Judge to issue Failure to Appear Warrants for them, so that the Deputy Sheriffs could bring them in.

Two cars with Deputies arrived, parking side by side on the Old Lady's property. One Deputy went to the door announcing that he had a Warrant for Robert Toggenburg's arrest, while the other stood by. "He's not here", she responded. Not to be deceived, the Deputy entered the trailer, walking the distance from front to back, opening the shower and the closets, satisfying himself that she had been truthful.

The Deputy sat in a chair and began to fill in the Attempted Service form. He obtained a physical description of Toggenburg from the Old Lady--large build, greying beard, a friendly dude who loved the outdoors. He was quiet, didn't talk much. He didn't drive but enjoyed walking around. He liked his chew.

The Deputy in the other car was a farm boy. He watched the animals in the nearby enclosure, memories of his childhood flooding his thoughts. A large, friendly goat attracted his attention until he left his car to grab a handful of hay from a nearby bale to feed the animal a snack. The goat smacked his lips with relish as he macerated the food, the name tag on his collar glinting in the sun, letting the world know that his name was "Bob".

Solicitations from credit card companies, addressed to Robert Toggenburg, now inundated the Old Lady's mailbox in far greater numbers than the Voter Registration forms. They annoyed the Old Lady, who knew that the name and address had been sold to the companies by a county official, since it existed nowhere else.

For several weeks she used them to start a fire in her woodstove. Then one day she opened an application to study it. The form asked for date of birth, social security number, occupation, and income.

So it was, that Mr. Robert Toggenburg applied for a credit card, listing his occupation as landscaper and utilizing the date of birth and social security number of a friend of the Old Lady's who had recently passed away. She knew that her friend had never applied for credit, so the Credit Bureaus would have no prior information. She checked the box on the form, requesting a second card, listing her own first name with the last name of Toggenburg.

Two weeks later the cards arrived.

The Old Lady went to the feed store with her card, purchasing a half dozen bales of hay and three bags of goat chow for Bob and his pasture buddies. The following month she paid the bill in full with a money order.

She repeated the process a half dozen times. When new cards arrived, she made a purchase on each, which was repaid in full the following month. The credit card companies responded quickly by raising the credit limits on the cards. Soon, Robert Toggenburg and his "wife" had a wallet full of the most popular credit cards, each with high credit limits.

The Old Lady filed a Name Change Petition with the Court, requesting that her last name be changed to "Toggenburg". When the case was completed, she took the Decree of Name Change and her original birth certificate to the Post Office to apply for a Passport. Three weeks later the document arrived and she was ready to go.

For five weeks Mrs. Robert Toggenburg traveled around the world, enjoying every luxury; delicious food, first class hotels, sightseeing trips. Bell hops, maitre' ds, waiters, and other tourist personnel loved her, for the Old Lady was generous with the gratuities she added for them on her credit card slips.

When her world tour was completed, the Old Lady went to a downtown bank, and borrowed $4,000.00 on the credit cards. She placed $1,000.00 in four separate envelopes, writing the name of a grandchild on each. After tucking away these funds with her Will, she sat back and waited for the fallout.

Every month, Robert Toggenburg received bills for the charges the Old Lady had made for cash loans and her trip around the world. In addition, letters addressed to Toggenburg threatened to sue him for failure to pay.

Liability lay with the primary cardholder on the accounts even for the charges of persons holding and using a second card. Of course the credit card companies could have sued the Old Lady for civil fraud and gone to the District Attorney asking him to file criminal complaints for fraud, but no one dug into the circumstances surrounding the opening of the accounts. Every one assumed that Robert Toggenburg was around, he was a deadbeat, and he was ducking them.

Process Servers arrived regularly at the Old Lady's door. She told each of them that Toggenburg had not been around her house for several weeks. One clever Server gave the papers to the Old Lady as a legally recognized "Substituted Service". This company obtained a Default Judgment against Toggenburg for unpaid charges. The Judgment remained unpaid because neither he nor his assets could ever be located. After several months, all of the companies gave up and the accounts were closed as "uncollectible".

Every couple of months for about a year, a Deputy Sheriff returned with the Failure to Appear warrant. The Old Lady told him that Toggenburg had left the area. Finally, the Deputy wrote "Cannot be Served" across the document and he filed the warrant deep in an old cabinet at his office, never to be seen again.

Memories of her trip around the world filled the Old Lady's thoughts, bringing her much pleasure in her final years. She felt no pity for the credit card companies who were so eager for profit that they had issued their cards to a goat.

Epilogue: After the Old Lady died, her daughter came across the Toggenburg file. Sifting through the documents it contained, she was amazed that her mother may have had a secret lover. She had always been guarded about her personal relationships, particularly about her dealings with men. The daughter had suspected that her mom's trip around the world had been financed by someone else, probably by a man.

Bob Toggenburg lived 23 happy years, a ripe old age for a pasture goat. He outlived the Old Lady by almost 5 years, and he never paid his bills.

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