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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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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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Stuff It, Toilet (Attendant)!

, , , , , , | Working | April 14, 2020

(I am working as a volunteer at an event; we only deal with entertaining or guiding the public. I need to use the bathroom and, on entering a cubicle, I find the toilet completely clogged. People have kept using it even though it was obviously blocked. I pull the door shut and lock the door using a coin. Afterward, I go in search of the attendant. I find her chatting to a male dressed in the same uniform at the entry to the bathrooms. They are not discussing work.)

Me: “Uh, excuse me, I just wanted to let you know that one of the toilets is blocked and that I…”

Attendant: “Go away, leave me alone. I don’t need to be told that every thirty seconds “

Me: “What the h***? I was just trying to tell you that I lo–“

Attendant: *cuts me off again* “I told you to get away from me. I don’t need to be told every thirty seconds.”

(The man is looking on, open-mouthed.)

Me: “As if it’s obvious that I can see that you’ve been told by anyone! I’m sorry I disturbed your conversation about what you are having for dinner.” *turns and starts walking off before turning around* “Oh, what I was trying to tell you was that I locked the door, and I was going to tell you which one, but now you can just find it for yourself.”

(This means that she has forty cubicles to check as the doors go all the way to the floor and up to the ceiling. About an hour later, one of my fellow volunteers comes in.)

Volunteer: “I’ve been asked by one of the toilet cleaners to let one of our volunteers know how sorry she is for being rude to her. How am I going to work out who that is?”

Me: “Yeah, that was me.”

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