View Full Version : Bizarre series of email exchanges with a sort-of colleague - could use input

7-22-11, 2:07pm
You guys are smart and you help me see things in perspective - would love to get your input on this.

I work in an artsy field, and I recently interviewed a guy who wrote and directed a one-man opera that premiered in my town (I'll call him Josh). The show was amazing and really impressed me, as did the actor-singers who starred in it. It was just a beautiful, exhilarating thing and I was very interested to meet the guy who conceived and put together such a wonderful performance.

So we had a nice interview, and it turns out Josh is kind of a Renaissance man: he's a former actor, a voice coach, an improv teacher, an author of a singing-method book, a Ph.D (in what I can't remember), and a wanna-be film writer. So we did the interview and he sent me a handwritten thank you note - first one I've ever received. A couple months later he came back in town and told me he and his wife are planning to relocate here. He wants to have lunch. There was no hook (as they say in news) for a second interview, but I thought it would be fun to have lunch with the guy and network with him. Never hurts in my biz, you know.

So we have trouble finding a restaurant - the first one we walk into smells like a toxic cleaner, so we're on the street looking for something. I see a restaurant called the Captain's Inn, and he wants to go there. My heart sinks, because just the day before, hubby and I had been in there and gotten terrible service. The server was slow and pretended not to see us, and when I asked for a house wine, she just barked at me that they don't have house wine. No helpful suggestions or anything. So hubby and I said we'd dine elsewhere and left.

So as we're sitting there at the same place, I'm telling Josh this story about hubby and me storming out just the day before. I tried to be light-hearted about it, get him in on the joke or whatever. So the SAME EXACT server comes over, and I'm all Oh $hit. Anyway, I was pleasant and so was she - she gave us some frickin' EXCELLENT service actually! Josh apparently felt bad for her, kept watching her with his big soulful eyes and telling her what a great job she was doing. When we left, I joked with him that he'd changed her whole life (this is the kind of language his clients use, apparently, after experiencing his workshops).

So next day he emails me and we're chatting about possibly collaborating on an arts project, which I'm eager to do. And then something weird (sorry this is so long): He says, and this is verbatim from his message:

BTW: did I mention that I received an email from our server the other day? Here's what she said:

I noticed that you were at a table a local celebrity who once stormed out when I provided less-than-excellent service. That event drove me right into intensive psychotherapy because I finally recognized that it had a serious character defect of making people wait. And I'm a waitress!!! My therapist told me that I'm one step away from being institutionalized. OMG. When I saw her again the other day I was petrified. If you noticed, and I'm sure you did, I couldn't even hear the compliment you paid to me. I was so scared! I'm sure she is really a nice person. I am finally admitting that I'm the one with a serious problem.

I kind of freaked out - wasn't sure what Josh wanted me to think of this, or why he was sending it to me. When on earth had he and the server exchanged emails? I never left the table, and neither did he. I wrote him back and said: Look Josh, that part about me storming out? It was YESTERDAY! She can't have been in "intensive psychotherapy" over me just since yesterday. I added that I hadn't insulted or assaulted her in any way. We just informed her we were leaving, and we split.

So Josh writes me back:

Well, this is a longer story than I can go into right now.

Suffice it to say......
wait a minute.....
someone's pounding on the door....

OMG..... It's the server!

And no, I cannot give out her name.
It has to do with Dr/./patient confidentiality. I can't say any more.
I hope you "get it."

And do NOT leave anything at the restaurant. That would make her CRAZY.

Gotta go.

This last arrogant little note from him made me so mad I almost vomited. I couldn't believe it. I still can't! WTF? Why the haughty mystery over who she is? The only reason I asked him for her first name is that I thought he was implying I should go back there and apologize to her, which I was actually thinking of doing. But no! Josh's instructions are to NOT leave anything at the restaurant, because that would make her CRAZY! Why is he all-capping me? And how does he have this special relationship with her from just yesterday? And why is he ganging up against me with this random person that I had an incident with that he didn't even witness? And the fake mystery about, oh woo hoo, doctor-patient confidentiality? Like he's suddenly her therapist?

The whole thing took my breath away and I'm hopping mad. Anyway, he keeps emailing me about the project we were supposed to start collaborating on. I don't want to get within ten feet of this freak ever again, but I don't know how to respond to his note. What would you suggest?

And I'm still curious about his motives. I don't know why he sent me this stuff. I'm wondering - is he mentally ill? Is he just a self-important jerk who fancies himself a healer, someone who can fix people wherever he encounters them? Is he showing off - to me, to her, or what?

He's outta my life, but I'm just wondering how to think of all this. It has massively confused me.

iris lily
7-22-11, 2:12pm
...Is he just a self-important jerk who fancies himself a healer, someone who can fix people wherever he encounters them? Is he showing off - to me, to her, or what?...

I'd vote for this one. Interesting situation, people are weird. Along with cats. :) (see other thread.)

7-22-11, 2:16pm
LOL!! Thanks Iris :)

I'd vote for this one. Interesting situation, people are weird. Along with cats. :) (see other thread.)

7-22-11, 2:26pm
He's obviously fabricating the whole thing to try and "prove" something to you. See if he doesn't get himself caught in a tree until your hubby gets a ladder next.

7-22-11, 2:50pm
I think he was just kidding with you!! You shared this info with him and he's just trying to be funny. Don't you get it? lol!

7-22-11, 2:51pm
Well, I think he's doing another wonderful "performance" piece for you, creating the story, dancing and weaving around both the complexities and the "facts" you are throwing at him. You said this guy is inventive, artistic, etc.

If it were me, I'd email him, tell him "I get it! Wonderful performance art piece!", and relax.

Actually, he sounds really interesting to me, even delightful, and eccentric.....just what I'd expect a person as you first described him to be. He even tried to give you a hint..... "I hope you get it."

I'd LOVE to meet him. But.....I'm kind of an odd duck myself, and way more eccentric than I look on the outside (I "pass" well as a normal person, hahahahaha)

Just my thoughts on it, for what they are worth....probably not a lot. ;-)

7-22-11, 3:34pm
Wow, that kind of makes sense. I didn't get the joke - but I've been having a really crap week and I think it's distorted my perceptions. Maybe. (sigh)

You guys always give me something new to think about. Thanks! :grin:

Anne Lee
7-22-11, 5:10pm
I too think it's an odd joke from a quirky guy who probably has a really intense interior life.

7-28-11, 8:54pm
Maybe an overly intense interior life.

7-29-11, 8:27am
I think he wanted to impress you with his creativity. How easily he could make a total drama from the two-liner you made about the waitress.
A bit weird IMO, but those creative people probably have to use their imagination or lose it...;-))

8-1-11, 2:36pm
Thanks for the input, Chris! I think you're right - IMPRESS is turning out to be an important concept in my understanding of this guy's motives, I'm finding. He's been acting like an entitled blowhard jackass as well.

The other day he emailed me asking for comp tickets to a chamber concert our station has been promoting. I usually don't even ask for comps myself - I feel the arts groups deserve to be paid for what they do, and I sort of feel self-conscious and reluctant whenever I ask for a free ticket. But Mr. Magic here just demands that I comp him. I said I didn't know if I'd be able to get a hold of the right person before the end of the day, but that I would try. My day got busy and I forgot all about it.

Over the weekend, I get a super snotty message from the executive director of the group, telling me some guy went up to the table, gave my name and said I'd given him permission to see the show. She rapped me on the wrist and reminded me that I don't have authority to do that. Oh, and apparently he told them he was a conductor!

I was just seeing red. On Monday, I get a chirpy email from Josh thanking me for the great concert! I pretty much read him the riot act - said he had compromised me with one of our arts partners, and forbidding him to use my name ever again. God I was steamed!

He came back with all kinds of excuses and justifications, and basically just questioned my version of reality - "Here's what really happened." His description of events was that they were just fine with it, even rolled out the red carpet for him! I said, look, it was obviously a problem or the incident wouldn't have made it to the executive director. Don't do it again, okay bub? Etc.

I think he may be delusional - but in any case he's definitely an operator. And whether he's lying as a matter of course or just fibbing, I don't feel I can trust him. Oh, and now he wants me to write a screenplay with him - or for him, I can't figure it out. He's already dreaming about the big-name stars he thinks he can rope into the project, based on the fact that his sister's husband's step-father's mother-in-law is a film score composer (more or less).

Maybe he's not that bad, and it's just some visceral repulsion thing going on for me. Maybe if I liked the guy, these other aspects wouldn't have the coloration for me that they do. I can't figure out why he annoys me so much. Life is short, though - why deal with someone who drives me nuts if I don't have to ? ;)

I think he wanted to impress you with his creativity. How easily he could make a total drama from the two-liner you made about the waitress.
A bit weird IMO, but those creative people probably have to use their imagination or lose it...;-))

8-1-11, 4:37pm
Hmmmm......your initial feelings about him are starting to turn out to be right! At first, I just thought you weren't catching on to his humor, but he's obvious got some issues going on. How weird of him to drop your name to try to get into the concert. Sounds like he's a liar and delusional too. I think its time to cut him loose (if you can!). He sounds pretty persistent. Good luck.

8-1-11, 5:04pm
Yow, this guy sounds like quite the character....and that's the charitable way of putting it.

The incident involving him getting into the concert would do it for me. This is going beyond just weird emails, stories about waitresses, doing screensplays, etc. He actually weasled his way into the free concert and got you in some hot water with the executive director. He's willing to go that far and then lie and twist things when confronted about it. Cut him loose...quickly.

Hopefully you were able to clear things up with the executive director.

Float On
8-1-11, 5:06pm
I can't stand 'users' like that. And they seriously expect everyone else to bend over backwards to do everything for them.
We know quite a few of them in the art show circuit.
On a smaller scale because we live in a tourist town, we have people that come out of the woodwork and expect us to put them up, get them free tickets to shows and parks, or get them killer discounts at a big resort (you live there you must know people), etc. Had one guy I hadn't seen in 15 years call and say he was bringing a group of 12 and needed me to set him up with free tickets for 3 days worth of events. I said 'are you serious?' and hung up on him. He called back (!) said 'I think we got disconnected'. I said 'Yes we did, on purpose.' and hung up again.

8-2-11, 1:38am
Well, on second thought.....I'm not so sure I'd really like to meet this guy.....I have a high tolerance for eccentricity, but not such a great tolerance for "users", and this guy sounds like he's just not worth it.......ah, well......sounded like fun in the beginning, but on closer inspection, not so much. ;-)

Anne Lee
8-2-11, 9:38am
Kinda makes me wonder about all the other wonderful things he said about himself.

8-2-11, 10:04am
Thanks guys! Good to know I'm not nuts and not being oversensitive...

Yeah. The fact he'd be willing to get me in trouble in order to score something for free shows me he's either massively unaware of how the world works - immature, learning disabled perhaps? - or he's a narcissistic user who doesn't give a damn about anyone else. Bad news either way ;)

Yeah, I think I was able to patch things up with our arts partner, thanks for asking :)

Float On, good for you for hanging up on that guy! I need to get some of that gumption for myself!