Here’s a true story from my early career.
I have been cursed by a client! Really!! It was a curse placed upon me by a white-magic-practicing witch. It was 1977, my first year in business. I was contacted by a local owner of one of those trendy “enlightened” book stores. More than a book store owner, she was a self-proclaimed doctor of parapsychology, a psychic, a fortune teller, a mystic, a seer, a spirit-channeling guide, a link to ( mentally add mysterious music and echos ) the other side….. side…. side…. side.
She wanted me to design a new house for her, a scale model of The Great Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt. Only, her’s wasn’t going to be in a glamorous location outside Cairo, but in a field outside Wetumpka. Pyramid Power was big in the 70’s, and she was big into it. I was just getting started and would accept anything, even this weird wonder of Wetumpka.
Now, there’s a lot to this story. It’s too long to tell it all here, so this is the very short version.
We agreed on a fee, and I drew the plans. She refused to pay. I asked why. Her reasons : business was bad, which was not true; her husband was suddenly and unexpectedly divorcing her, which was true. Years later I would meet him, and hear his side, the side that did not want to be married to a maniacal mystic, the side that for the sake of his children and himself chose to no longer put up with a steady stream of gullible dropping-by-the-house Autauga, Elmore, Lee, Macon, Montgomery, and Tallapoosa Countians, all desperately needing a self-proclaimed doctor of parapsychology, a psychic, a fortune teller, a mystic, a seer, a spirit-channeling guide, a link to the other side….. side…. side…. side.
So, I sued her…. in Small Claims Court……. for the entire fee…….. one hundred and fifty dollars. She didn’t like it, and made sure I knew it. She conveyed her displeasure through a messenger.
Working for her as a personal secretary was a weasely little man named Gary. In the weeks leading up to our court appearance (a big phrase to connect with a measly $150), Gary would call me and make threats. At first the threats were empty, hollow promises like, “You’ll never win,” and “We’ll never have to pay.” Then they became violent, like, “We’ll be waiting for you with a baseball bat,” and, “We’ll tear you to pieces.” I won’t say I wasn’t worried, and in the weeks before the hearing, whenever I left my little apartment, which was also my design studio, another big phrase to connect with a business in a shoebox, I was careful to look for Gary or some other bat wielding henchman, but they were never there. Also, during the month before the court date, my business boomed. I was hired by client after client, adding at least one new job each day. It was so exciting to hear the phone ring,……. until a week before the trial, when Gary called again.
They knew mine was a brand spanking new house plan business, a struggling start-up for which clients and jobs were yet to exist. I had nothing. They knew it. They thought they could use it. That’s why Gary called a week before the trial date.
“Now you’ll be sorry,” he began. “She’s had enough,” he added snidely. Then, in a tone of voice that, through the phone, actually conveyed the sneer on his face he jibed, slowly for effect, “How has business been the last few weeks? Pretty bad, huh? She’s put a curse on you! But drop the case, and she’ll lift the curse.”
My answer, “Please tell her that I wish I had known, so I could’ve appreciated the curse she put on me. But, this has been the best month of my career, so please ask her to do it again.”
CLICK! …. That was Gary hanging up hard.
This is all I’ll tell you on this side of “The End.” I’ll tell you the rest, later, on the other side….. side….. side…… side.