Crooked morals

This story took place some time ago, and I’m not bringing it up to get back at anyone. I even doubt the people involved will be reading this. I merely thought it’d make an interesting read for you, so here is a short version of the whole mess.

A couple of years back, I won an award for a site of mine. Nothing extraordinary, but something I took pride in nevertheless.

The reward should’ve been delivered to me, but right after the contest ended, there were some problems amongst the organizers and a delay occurred. I was reasonable and put no pressure on anyone and decided to let them take care of the problems and wait for my reward. After all, had I gotten into similar problems, I’d not want anyone breathing behind by back.

I decided not to even bother anyone with phone calls then — e-mails are much nicer. So, from time to time, I’d sent an e-mail to the person in charge of the whole thing. Sometimes, he didn’t reply to an e-mail, but that was OK. I didn’t even get upset or anything when he claimed he didn’t receive the previous mail I’d sent. Although, you gotta admit it’s highly unlikely, that an IT professional, a person that communicates via e-mail non-stop “doesn’t receive” an e-mail. There was no bounce. Maybe the e-mail got lost somewhere between here and there? I realized his excuse was not a valid one, but that was OK. I was in no rush.

Some time passed, without any news. The problems, as the man-in-charge wrote one an e-mail got through, were not due to his errors: other people did not hold up to their end of the deal and naturally he needs time to sort things out with them. Our correspondence became very slow, so I started to call him at his office, just to make sure he would not forget about me. Plus, as I’ve learnt, e-mail is unreliable. His secretary would answer and connect me to him. At this time, he supposedly had an accident and injured his neck on one of his business trips, so that caused more delays. I can understand that, so the wait continued.

By this time, months have passed since my reward should’ve been in my hands. Instead of leaving him wrestle with all his issues, I proposed that we forget about that particular reward and that he buys me some books instead. It was easier and quicker for both of us, so we agreed on that and I sent him my wish list. It consisted of a few web-design books, the price of which was smaller than that of the reward I should’ve gotten. After this agreement, everything seemed pretty much OK and I hoped and expected the books to arrive at my home address soon.

I was wrong. No books arrived.

I called the man-in-charge and asked him where does he think the problem is now. He said that the package is probably on its way. Perhaps it takes more time for it to fly over to us, he said.


An Amazon package arrives within a couple of days. I simply said “OK”. After all, he was injured, so I let him take care of it in his own time.

More time passed, and passed quickly, but no books showed up at my doorstep. When I called, he said that he doesn’t know where the problem is and that the books should’ve been here already. I politely said that I’d continue to wait, giving him another opportunity to order the package.

Then summer came along, a busy time of the year in his office. It became more and more difficult to reach him there. A nice lady at the desk asked me who I was every single time I called, although I introduced myself at the beginning of each of our conversations. She probably checked their black list for my name, or something. And every time I called, she replied that the man-in-charge just left and that I should call back. She never knew when he was going to get back to the office, that’s how busy he was. Always on the run, never able to call me back. After a dozen of phone calls, she ran out of excuses. I felt sorry for her, making her lie to cover for her boss. You could tell just by the tone of her voice, how uncomfortable she was by the whole thing. And all because of a couple of books and a man not being man enough.

Then, he decided to go on vacation, as the secretary had told me, leaving it all behind. I asked her when he’ll be back and wrote down the date. When that day came about, I started calling again, but the lady at the desk managed to come up with more silly excuses. I bet she hated the sound of the phone ringing.

I then got a hold of his cellphone number. I was not desperate and I did not try hard to get it, I just knew a colleague who had it and had no problem giving it to me. One day, I decided to give the man-in-charge a call. I politely introduced myself, although there was no real need for this, because by this time, he knew my voice very well. Now he too was in an awkward situation and now he too was feeling uncomfortable. And so he should have.

He squeezed out a lie, telling me he has not got time to speak to me, because he is in a middle of an important meeting. He told me he was extremely busy, but he would call me as soon as he finds a bit of time. Nice one, eh? He probably thought I did not know he’s lying, because all the time I was holding back I did not let him know what I was thinking or feeling. I was nothing but polite and understandable from the word go. I had nothing but respect and patience when dealing with a colleague that is probably twice my age. And to him, I was probably just a naive youngster. Someone he though he could fool.

He did not phone me, of course, although he promised to do so. As understandable as I might be, I do not think highly of people who do not keep their promises and keep lying. I would’ve let the whole thing go if he would’ve just kept that one promise he made.

More time passed. By that time, more than a year and a half, after I had won the contest. You’ve read that right. More than eighteen months to keep a promise.

One nice, sunny day, I decided to be a pain in his ass. I was less busy than him so I had time for it. I called him on his cellphone, but he did not answer. I started the phone calls in the morning. I tried his office, too, he was not there. I tried a few dozen times, at the very least. No luck, same old story. I continued to try to reach him the whole day long, until late afternoon. Then I sat down and wrote a post at a forum where he posted daily. Yup, he had time to write posts, and he’s not a two-word poster either, but no time to call me. I knew that by posting on that forum I’d get his full attention. I described the whole thing, up to that point, in that post. I was discrete and polite, still playing my role. I never named names, but I knew that several important community members would have a pretty good idea of who is who. Others would be guessing, and even though my post was anonymous, they would probably guess right.

Literally minutes after I posted the story, the man-in-charge gave me a call. Minutes. This was the very first time he called me, not the other way around. I hoped to get him to do that, but I did not expect he would react so soon.

He immediately started to turn things round. He accused me of foul play and insisted that none of the problems were caused by him. What nerve! I maintained my cool and let him do the talking for the first ten or fifteen minutes of the conversation. He said that the package got lost and he intended to pay for another one, but since I accused him of such terrible things in my post, he had no intention of paying for nothing. If the books come, he’d give them away to a library, he said. Which was also super silly, because the books ought to have arrived at my address, not his.

After his initial attacks got no response from me (I barely said a word, letting him bury himself), he changed his tactic. Obviously, he thought I’d go public with the story and shit his pants a couple of times.

Little by little, he was letting me know he’d order the books (“again“) and that he wants to forget the whole deal. The middle part of the conversation was where I laid out the facts, which are enough for anyone to see he is to blame for the whole mess, but still he insisted nothing was his fault. He insisted he is nothing but an honest man. I kept my mouth shut, but came close to puking at one point. He also told me I was simply at the bottom end of his daily to-do list, which is huge.

What can you say to that?

We spoke for probably 45 minutes. I cost him a lot of his precious time that afternoon. At the end of that telephone torture, after some more monologue, he said he’d order the books right away. I just replied “OK”.

Five minutes after we ended the conversation, he called again. He needed me to send the info again. He did not even know which books I had wanted. Had he ordered them in the first place, we would have had that info.

Two or three days later, I got my package and that was the end of it. We never spoke again. The books I got lie on my shelf to remind me of that mess and of crooked morals. The moral of the story? Do not let anyone take advantage of you. You know better.

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