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25 March 2009

Ethical navigation help, please. Long. [More:]
I've been an architectural designer since 1986. For 10 years I was in private offices designing commercial space - office upfits, schools, libraries, churches, retirement communities, multi story housing developments etc.

The next 5 years I spent in space planning & space management for all east coast facility locations for Cisco.

In 2001 I was laid off, & after attemtping to return to private offices (I was miserable), I went out on my own in 2003ish.

I gradually changed my design focus to residential from commercial (I have no architect license, I'm fully self taught), specializing in efficient, simple kitchens, baths and closets, and using sustainable materials as much as possible.

2 years ago, I informally contracted with a design partner, & it soured. He found a stateside fabricator of the kind of cabinets we both spec in our projects. He wanted me and a couple of other designers to buy the cabinets through him, as he claimed he was the "exclusive" dealer of the cabinets in the area. At the time I had no reason to question the validity of that claim.

I started getting into green finish materials, doing my own research, and networking with dealers of those materials locally. On a typical visit one day, I noticed this one dealer had the same cabinets that Mr X claimed to be the sole provider of in our area.

So I called the sales rep for the cabinet company and asked if Mr X did indeed have exclusive territory rights, and the rep said no, that any designer could open a direct account with the cabinet company.

Bottom line - I realized that Mr X was gouging me an additional 60% to buy the cabinets through him. So I opened my own account.

Some idiot at the cabinet company leaked to Mr X that I opened an account. He called me, gave me a new asshole, accused me of stealing from him, I was slime, etc etc. I stood up to him & called him on the carpet for gouging me, false claims about dealership rights, he even lies about his education background on his website. Needless to say the call ended badly, hanging up on each other etc. We haven't spoken since. Until...
(don't leave me hanging!)
posted by kellydamnit 25 March | 08:18 I get this email from him:


Hate to bother you with this issue. So and So's bio needs to be removed from the website. I do not have the password in order to get in and make the change. You were the last one to alter the site. Do you have the information I need to do that? I appreciate you passing it on to me.

Thanks,Mr X

Now, I have sent this asshole the information for his own fucking website repeatedly. The way we left things I was so pissed I destroyed all records so he couldn't accuse me of sabotaging his site.

He has spread false info about me all over town, that I stole from him, etc. i have heard it from several sources, and I just take the high road and say, well I'm sorry he feels that way and move on. most people who know me know that I am an honest person, so it's not usually an issue, and reflects more badly on him for saying it, so I try not to sweat it.

And maybe I'm just thinking out loud here, but part of me really wants to write back and say, "you know, for someone who tells people I stole from you, you have a lot of balls to ask me for help. Fuck. You."

Or, I could ignore it, or I could be my usual helpful self and send him the info YET AGAIN.

Mostly I'm trying not to be knee-jerky, and I fully admit that I haven't let go or forgotten how shitty this guy treated me.

posted by chewatadistance 25 March | 08:23
Oh, and for time frame info, the hang up call happened a little over a year ago.
posted by chewatadistance 25 March | 08:24
Ok one more thing - he tells people he taught me everything I know, that he made me what I am, that I wouldn't be successful if it weren't for him.

I know that this is a classic sign of insecurity, but it still really pisses me off that he would say that crap and then ask me for help??? W.T.F.??

Ok I'm going to eat something now and get my mind on my own business. :D
posted by chewatadistance 25 March | 08:30
Honestly? Maybe I'm a bitch, but I'd respond with "sorry, after I found out you were telling people around town I stole from you I shredded all paperwork pertaining to your website. I figured that was a pretty clear indication that our working relationship was concluded, and did not feel comfortable having access to your online files any longer. I know I have sent you the password repeatedly, you're now the only one who has it. If you lost the email I sent you I'm sure domain hosting company X can assist."

What a douche. Let him twist in the wind.
posted by kellydamnit 25 March | 08:34
I'm not sure what to say regarding sending him a fuck-you email. It certainly sounds like he deserves it, but it's up to you whether it's worth the repercussions. But, for dog's sake, please don't help with his own password. Again!? That kind of incompetence is best left flailing.

on preview, kellydamnit's email strikes a good tone, imo.
posted by danostuporstar 25 March | 08:37
Also, sorry chewie. That sucks.
posted by danostuporstar 25 March | 08:38
I wouldn't send the fuck-you email; that's just acting out of anger and really helps nothing.

But yeah, like kelly and dano said, you're not responsible for his website. You've destroyed the records. No longer your problem. He burned that bridge already.
posted by BoringPostcards 25 March | 08:42
What kellydamnit said. (I personally might try to leave out the "after I found out you were telling people around town I stole from you", but the guy sounds like an ass and I might leave it in.)
posted by Specklet 25 March | 08:42
kellydamnit, you are the wind beneath my wings.
posted by Melismata 25 March | 08:44
(hmm, my other response got eated)

The design community is really small - so people already know he's a self-agrandizing ass. Really - they know that you have talents all your own. And, it sounds like you're doing so many good things to make a name for yourself. You can continue to take the high road.

I'd tell him that you sent the information long ago and he can look for it in his records, but that you destroyed your records to keep a clean slate.
posted by mightshould 25 March | 09:00
Yeah, what kelly said, but perhaps in a really cold and professional tone, i.e., I'm sorry, but our working relationship has been concluded. All documents relating to that relationship have been shredded and I no longer have any access to your online files, website or any business correspondence.

Just very businesslike, very calm and very much, NO. I wouldn't say anything about him saying you stole from him or any of that because something about this is ringing my bullshit detector. Suppose he didn't lose his password? Suppose he wants, for some twisted reason, to accuse you of messing with his stuff somehow? It doesn't sound like you could put it past him. Therefore I would really stress in your email that you do NOT have the password. Then make sure you keep a copy of the email just in case he starts stirring up shit again.
posted by mygothlaundry 25 March | 09:05
What mgl said, although taking the low road is so tempting in these situations!
posted by muddgirl 25 March | 09:29
Agreeing with mgl. And adding that if he's removing a bio, it's presumably because someone he used to work with is no longer working with him, and given the info you've provided, that relationship may also be incredibly fraught right now and so you may not want to get involved, even tangentially, in the symbolic severing of their working relationship.
posted by occhiblu 25 March | 09:57
You guys are so awesome. BP - good point about the anger for the sake of anger. kellydammit - I like the part about our business relationship concluded. dano - thanks, big bruddah :).

mgl - you are totally right about the bullshit detector - he is manipulative as all get out, & in fact fits to description of a sociopath as laid out in the book The Sociopath Next Door. That is probably the only reason I would even consider responding at all.

Everyone else - totally right about letting him twist in the wind. For now I'm debating whether to respond at all, or to respond with the "I destroyed my records when our working relationship ended..." version.

thanks, you guys.
posted by chewatadistance 25 March | 10:01
occhiblu - good point also! although I know through the grapevine that the bio he wants to remove actually left way back in the summer, so he is a monumental slackass for letting it go this long out of date. For all I know the person who left called him & said get my shit off your site, asshole.

With stuff like this, who needs soap operas?!
posted by chewatadistance 25 March | 10:04
The design community is really small - so people already know he's a self-agrandizing ass.

mightshould - this is so true. I can't tell you how many parties, openings, networking events I've been to where people openly criticize the guy, without even knowing I worked with him.

Also, I know that he has had no work at all since last October, and he kicked his wife out of their house at about that time, too. And she is paying for the house he's living in AND the condo she's renting. Also, the cabinet rep told me that a client of Mr X's called the rep directly b/c he was getting no customer service from Mr X. He's got serious issues. I'm glad to be away from him.
posted by chewatadistance 25 March | 10:08

All the good advice was already taken, so I just wanted to add that.
posted by mudpuppie 25 March | 10:09
No password for him, he doesn't deserve it. :P

If you see him in a dark alley, you could trip him...
posted by halonine 25 March | 10:14
Yeah, wow, what great advice here. I would agree that a piece of communication stating that you no longer have any access to any of his stuff, whether or not you might still have the password kicking around somewhere, is probably a WISE approach given the sounds of this guy. MGL might be dead on...he could be trying to establish that you DO have access and so therefore are responsible for something HE did. Just thought I'd echo that advice because it rings pretty well in my ears.
posted by richat 25 March | 10:24
I searched my sent email archives & found the one where I sent him the info - it was last August. It didn't say anything about my not having access anymore. I think you guys are right - I should send the "i don't have it" note.
posted by chewatadistance 25 March | 10:39
One thing I'm seeing more now in the design community is collaboration between firms/businesses. Anyone who is known for spreading negative gossip about others will fare poorly when decisions are made about people to be on any team. Best to keep your good reputation. (you can make a doll and stick pins in it to help you with the crazy-making of this guy)
posted by mightshould 25 March | 10:40
Here's what I just sent Assholio:

I destroyed all my paper and electronic records of access to your website when our working relationship concluded. I have not had access to your website since summer of 2008.

I left the timeframe of last access vague because I'm not honestly sure when I last edited his site. I did remove my own bio (b/c I knew he was too incompetent to do it himself) and I think it was late summer sometime. So if his host looks at IP addys it will coincide. He is way too lazy to do anything legally aggressive, but at least I know my ducks are in a row.

posted by chewatadistance 25 March | 10:53
Although the low road is very tempting, I think you did the right thing in keeping it neutral, chewie. And yes, thank dog you're no longer associated/associating with the dude; he's a train wreck waiting to happen.
posted by deborah 25 March | 12:12
I think you worded that very well. Nicely done! Now, fingers crossed that this will be the last you hear from this goof.
posted by richat 25 March | 13:26
LOL he wrote me back in all caps: OK

I didn't really give him much to work with. I was tempted to add, "enjoy the wind twisting." but I kept it to myself. HA!

I really agonize over crap like this. That sociopath book really helped me
A) learn to spot the behaviours of manipulative people, and
B) either avoid getting entangled with them, or how to get untangled if it happens.

In the book she talks about how people with a normal conscience will feel guilty about things like plagiarism or white lies or any emotional abuse of a gazillion varieties - sociopaths don't feel remorse at all, they just go from conquest to conquest.

Part of the trouble with normal people dealing with sociopaths is that we can't fathom *not* having a conscience. I have to admit that I was pretty amazed that he would even ask me for help after the way he treated me - as if the whole thing never happened, in his mind. Unbelievable.
posted by chewatadistance 25 March | 13:47
Penis. || Whooo-hooo