Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Cold Way To Go

by Daddy X

Taboos are defined as cultural prohibitions of certain acts, or improper use of objects deemed sacred in a particular society. In a larger sense of the word, could taboo be linked to karma? Will defying human ideals or even cultural norms wreak havoc with one’s path? Will we, in fact, reap what we sow?

Take one executive Momma X used to work for. It was her first gig after building a 20-year career, ending up as director of Design and Production for a non-profit publisher.  She’d now be working at, not only a for-profit business, but at a much higher salary. Yesssss….

She was already acquainted with the owner of the company when she sent in her resume. Years before, they had attended psychic reading classes together, but hadn’t had contact for many years. Upon reviewing her resume and knowing her reputation, he hired her on the spot, saying “I liked her back then, and I like her now!”

The world of for-profit publishing operates with somewhat different criteria than a Greenpeace. The former’s funding is private, and expected to make a profit (duh) for its investors. Just as in the non-profit world, the game is to keep costs down. There are ways to achieve this, and one of those ways is not paying the bills, easier to do when reputation isn’t as critical as in the non-profit realm.

So let’s call the new boss Sam. Sam the publisher—at Samco Publishing.

Sam was a self-starter, having historically produced a line of hobbyist calendars: sports cars, art, trains, dolls, etc. When he hired a high profile, highly competent sales personality, he managed to acquire some big-time licenses: Star Wars, Ann Geddes, Harry Potter and the like.

Samco eventually grew to employ well over a hundred people, a considerable entity in our little county. Sam was a local success—the Golden Boy. His employee Christmas party was an extravagant bash at an exclusive hotel. We saw him speak at a dinner served in his honor at the prestigious Officer’s Club in the San Francisco Presidio.

However, all was not well with the company. Sam (like our President) was one of those guys who thrived on chaos. He would get a new idea the day before a six-figure print run. He’d halt production of a book when the delivery date was imminent. He didn’t pay his bills. After a run, he’d claim some minor (read invented) error and refuse to pay the printer, threatening to sue. Suppliers would often take the loss rather than fix the alleged error. They knew that any revised product would also be deemed ‘imperfect’.

Momma began feeling badly for her supplier reps, many with whom she’d had prior relationships. When she’d tell them they were unlikely to be paid, the reps would say they got their commissions when the deal went through. It was their company who had the responsibility to collect. Obviously, this way of doing business involves a law of diminishing returns. Employees were laid off. Suppliers shied away. New suppliers were found, and were subsequently screwed as well.

For years, Samco had an ‘angel’ investor. Rumor had it that the guy had sunk 30 million in the business. At one point, said investor decided to cut his losses and quit throwing good money after bad.

Samco’s unorthodox closing made front-page news. The day before the headlines, employees were called into a room and told to clean out their desks, go home and not come back. Locks were to be changed. No paychecks would be issued; no accrued vacation time would be addressed. Their health insurance hadn’t been paid for several months. There were employees who were scheduled for medical procedures. Others were at home recuperating. Some had used vacation time as a savings account.

Fast forward ten years. Nobody had heard from Sam after a few lame attempts to do short run calendars, soon after he’d closed Samco. Nobody wanted to work with him. Momma X didn’t even return his call.

In 2016, Sam’s dismembered body was found in a freezer in Bangkok. Authorities said it had been frozen for at least 8 years.  It was found during an investigation of a passport forgery ring. That sounds right. Sam was in printing. The Bangkok paper reported they had found the person who’d cut the body up, but not the murderer, likely a disgruntled associate who hadn’t been paid.

It took a year to identify the body; there’d been no missing person report. Nobody had looked for or even asked about Sam.

Sam, the Golden Boy.

Nobody cared.


  1. Now that's a chilling story, no pun intended.

    Heaven preserve us from people like Sam.

  2. OMG, Daddy X. That story is more dramatic than a Hollywood thriller.

    1. Thanx, Jean- Strange (and a bit squicky) that I almost feel privileged to know a person who came to such an end. It could sure make a good thriller. We'll see if I can work it into something.

  3. Definitely could make part of a thriller. I wonder how much it cost to run a freezer that size (what ever the size was--I guess being dismembered made him take up less room) for eight years in Bangkok.

    1. I do have an incomplete story set in Bangkok that could perhaps accommodate parts of this.


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