Old-fashioned frock coat, top hat, theatrically somber expression


  • Professional stalking
  • Exemplary dress code
  • Catholic guilt

“It’s just one tool of many. But yes, we do sometimes use it.” Juan Carlos Granda is the commercial director of the largest debt collection company in Spain. While debt collection is never an effortless pursuit, in Spain it’s a near futility, given that the Spanish legal system is as tangled as an eight-year-old’s shoelaces. Hunting down debtors is tricky, forcing them pay up a practical impossibility—there is even a Spanish word, moroso, which means slow but also “a doubtful debtor.”

But Juan Carlos works for El Cobrador del Frac, a company invented twenty years ago on a premise so fiendishly ingenious that it would leap straight to the top of the list at G. K. Chesterton’s “Club of Queer Trades.” “It is an eccentric and Bohemian Club,” Chesterton wrote in the story of the same name, “of which the absolute condition of membership lies in this, that the candidate must have invented the method by which he earns his living.” More than that, the Cobrador del Frac’s creators—a group of four Madrid lawyers who prefer to remain anonymous—have invented an entire surreal industry.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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—Andrew Losowsky

Andrew Losowsky gave a talk at the Seventh Great Obituary Writers’ International Conference 2005. He lives in Madrid where he’s currently writing about Italian doorbells.

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