There is a worm who owns an Internet company, who owes me big bucks (big to me, at least) for work I did in good faith. I admit it – I was stupid. At first he paid, never on time, but close. Then, the gaps between payments grew, until I awoke one morning and realized there were twice as many invoices as checks. I sent the worm several messages, determined not to whine, and eventually received just a portion and a promise of what was owed me.
Today I initiated an email chat with Gnat – a warped, but experienced writer who’d set off in the same leaky canoe as I, with the very same worm at the helm – to get another take on the sorry situation.
Me: Any luck in squeezing the turnip?
Gnat: I am somewhat taken aback, but certainly not offended, by your fascination with my turnip. Actually, I have long ago given up turnip squeezing and other foreplay while awaiting breakthroughs in enhancement medical research. On another subject, after long last, long, long last, I received a check last week for roughly 10 per cent of what is owed me. The bad news: this guy is pretty well broke and there is no reasonable way we can squeeze his turnip. The good news: he knows we are powerless yet still made a payment. That would indicate his heart, if not his pocketbook, is in the right place. If you want to talk face to face, you are going to have to stop being such a snob about Walmart. I will be the guy in the produce department fingering the turnips.
Me: I once saw you in the produce department, Gnat, and I don’t believe it was a turnip you were fingering . . . but a rutabaga. Rutabagas are generally larger and juicier than turnips, although they have skins like alligators and require constant heat and pressure to produce any juice. Just yesterday I again addressed our turnip worm – hopeful to glean a dribble here, a dribble there – until I have enough liquid to complete my recipe.
(You really think he’s broke?)
Gnat: Yeah, I believe he is broke.
You got the wrong guy. I have never massaged a rutabaga, although your description invites the possibility with words that could even provoke a medical breakthrough. In truth, I was the fellow staring wistfully at the cucumbers.
Me: Not to be a jicama, but is that a gut feeling or gas – do you have reason to believe this is true?
Gnat: I assume you are speaking of financial responsibility. My resource is observation of the evidence, conversations with Aggie (another victim) over the months, and, finally, her observation that he is indeed broke.
Me: You are far cleverer than I, and sneakier, too – both traits I admire greatly. If Aggie said he is broke, then I guess he is. However, he did commission me do a job last month, and he paid the invoice before it was due, probably because I told him that he’d have to if he wanted me to do anything further. So far, he has requested nothing else, though. I was wondering if knowing this might change your mind? (Sorry about the cukes.)
Gnat: Oh, well, it is just life in the produce aisle. Lettuce just understand that life is not always a bowl of cherries.
Me: True. So you recommend we all continue to make salad elsewhere, whether or not he’ll lettuce, turnip and pea?
Gnat: Sometimes in my frustration I must say, “Oh, just fork it!”
Me: You’re done, then?
Gnat: Not really. I still find a luscious peach irresistibly mouthwatering.
Me: You’re a bit of a fruit fly, but I always enjoy talking to you. Thanks for your feedback, Gnat!
And so, Dear Reader, please tell me in a comment what would YOU would do – continue to bug the worm until he produces the lettuce . . . or stick a fork in him, as my friend Gnat has done? Either way, I’m back to the compost heap for now . . . and I thank you for your kind consideration of my plight.