This Speaker Is Canceled

, , , , | Legal | July 24, 2020

I run a writing group which organises talks, workshops, and other writing-related events for its members. Most events go off smoothly and the speakers and workshop leaders are a delight to work with. However, there have been a few that were less pleasant to work with.

A few days before a scheduled talk, the speaker calls and cancels, saying that something has come up. This is less than ideal since this gives us no time to organise a replacement, but I thank him for letting us know and then frantically try to notify members and organise something else.

Thankfully, we end up having a free-writing session and everyone rallies together to bring snacks and drinks and we have a wonderful evening.

A few days later, the speaker calls me.

Speaker: “I don’t seem to have been paid.”

Me: “Paid?”

Speaker: “Yeah, you agreed to pay me.”

Me: *Long pause* “You cancelled and never actually did the talk, so we didn’t pay you.”

Speaker: “Well, the contract says if the talk was cancelled with less than forty-eight hours’ notice I would be paid anyway.”

Me: “Yes… if we have to cancel the meeting with less than forty-eight hours’ notice. If you cancel, you don’t get paid, regardless of how much notice you give.”

Speaker: “Why should that make a difference? The talk was cancelled at the last minute, so I want the money.”

Me: “We’re not going to pay you for a talk you never gave that we didn’t cancel.”

Speaker: “Well, I guess I’m just going to have to sue you, then, aren’t I?”

Me: “You’re welcome to take legal advice if you want, but our contract is clear. You aren’t owed any money.”

After a few choice words, the speaker hangs up. A few weeks go by and he calls again.

Speaker: “I spoke to a solicitor and he says you have to pay me.”

Me: “We haven’t received any kind of correspondence from your solicitor.”

Speaker: “Well, he said you have to pay me, so I want my money.”

Me: “You cancelled your talk with less than forty-eight hours’ notice even though the contract asks for five days. The contract very specifically says you will only be paid for last-minute cancellations we make. You cancelled. That means you have no legal claim.”

Speaker: “Well, that’s not what my solicitor says.”

Me: “I suggest you get your solicitor to send us a letter.”

Speaker: “And then you’ll pay me?”

Me: “No. But then you can take it to court where a judge will throw it out because you have no case and are being ridiculous.”

Speaker: “How dare you?! This is so unprofessional!”

Me: “So is cancelling with less than forty-eight hours’ notice and expecting to be paid.”

The speaker shouted some profanities at me and hung up. Thankfully, I have not heard from him since.


This story is part of our July 2020 Roundup – the best stories of the month!

Read the next July 2020 Roundup story!

Read the July 2020 Roundup!

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Small Town, Big Country

, , , , | Friendly | July 1, 2020

Several years ago, we moved to a tiny town in Eastern Ontario very near the nation’s capital, Ottawa. Ottawa has huge celebrations for Canada Day, July 1. We’ve learned that areas surrounding Ottawa view themselves as detached from Ontario and Canada, but we didn’t realize by how much until this conversation.

The area is also very insular, not recognizing much of the world beyond its own boundaries. During our first summer in the area this conversation occurs.

Me: “Does [Small Town of about 75 residents] have any Canada Day celebrations?”

Local Official: “Yes, on [date in June rather than July 1].”

Me: *Puzzled* “Is that so the celebrations don’t conflict with those in the [Very Nearby Capital]?”

The official speaks in a tone as if I’d suggested a perversion.

Local Official: “No. Nobody goes to that! It’s so it doesn’t conflict with the big celebration in [Nearest ‘Town’ of a few hundred people].”

Me: “Okay, so we won’t miss that!”

We go to the June celebration in the tiny town, which is a picnic with very modest fireworks in the evening. On July 1st, we go to the festivities in the nearby “big town” which centres around a parade. The parade consists of locals driving their own undecorated cars around the main drag for an hour, followed by two horses. I speak to a local at the parade.

Me: “Have you ever been to the Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa?”

Local: “What?! There’s a parade there, too?!”

Me: *Internally* “We have soooooooo moved to the wrong place.”

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These Dog Shows Have Really Gone To The Dogs

, , , , , , , | Friendly | June 17, 2020

My wife and I have had many dogs in the years we have been married. Some might have been purebred. We don’t know; none were ever papered or registered. Most of the dogs we have had are what are commonly referred to as mutts, but we love each and every one of them; they are family members. As a term of affection, we often refer to our dogs as mutts, no disrespect meant for their lack of pedigree breeding, just our term for a well-loved pet.

We decided to go with a relative to a dog show in another city — one of those fancy dog shows with high-priced dogs, well-paid trainers and handlers, etc.

As we were in the parking lot on the way in, a lady walked by with what we refer to as a “dust-mop” dog — small, long-hair, etc. My wife whispered to me, privately, “Oh, what a cute mutt!”

The lady overheard her and immediately went into a rage, quoting the long list of the dog’s pedigree, the papers, the ribbons, the awards, etc. She was ranting and raving about how low-class we were for not acknowledging the superiority of her dog. We said nothing. Then the lady said, “I bet your dog doesn’t have papers.”

To this, I responded, “Well, he did have some, but he couldn’t read them so we put them on the floor when he was a puppy, and he used them. What does your dog do with his?”

Screams of obscenities followed us into the show.

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Unfiltered Story #195974

, , | Unfiltered | June 9, 2020

Im working a private awards dinner, each table has a bottle of red and white wine and a water jug as well as a couple of cases as centre pieces. I, and other staff, have been near the tables at all stages of the night and I’ve checked on this particular table multiple times in the half hour leading up to this.

* I’m walking around the table checking to see if they have finished their meals*

Guest in a rude tone: “Can we get a round of water at this table and make sure everyone else (all the other 27 tables) gets one as well”

Me: “Sure thing”

*i pick up the water jug and pour each of the ten guests at that table a glass and then ask my staff to do the same at other tables*

Five minutes later, note every person on this table has a drink.

Same guest, very rude this time “can we get some wine service at this table or at least get a bottle of red on the table seeing there’s none?”

Me, dumbfounded: “Mam there’s a bottle of red on the other side of the table…”

She was nice to me the rest of the night.

He’s Blowing Aggressive Smoke Signals

, , , | Right | May 30, 2020

I’m on the committee that organises a professional conference. I take a phone call at home.

Delegate: “You sent me an invoice for extra cleaning of my room. I don’t see why I should pay that.”

Me: “Because you smoked in your room. There was an announcement at the start of the conference and a warning in your delegate’s pack, and there were ‘no smoking’ signs in your room. You made the choice to smoke anyway, and so the venue charged us a penalty which I’m passing on to you.”

Delegate: “I blew the smoke out the window. I didn’t set off the fire alarm.”

Me: “The staff could smell stale tobacco smoke when they came in to prepare the room for the next conference. It needed extra cleaning.”

Delegate: “Whatever. You should cover it out of conference funds.”

Me: “I’m not going to add a little to everyone’s conference fees next year to cover something that was charged because of your action. You chose to smoke, so you get to pay the cleaning bill.”

Delegate: “If you don’t waive this invoice, I won’t come to [Conference] ever again.”

Me: “I’m sorry to hear that, but if you insist, that proposal is acceptable to me. When can I expect your cheque?”

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