The Unmitigated Gall of Fame

Has a friend, former friend, relative, acquaintance, or acquaintance of acquaintance ever done anything so brazen, galling, or just plain tacky that it makes your jaw drop? If so, please nominate them for my Unmitigated Gall of Fame.

Over the years I’ve heard hundreds of stories about people who are all for themselves, and whose consciences and sense of fair play and decency are less than developed. Their actions at the very least are pathetically tacky; at worst they are brazen. They are what the Catholic nuns back in the day would call a “bold and brazen article.”

Come on, I know you all know people like this too. So below is a list I’ve been keeping of the exploits of people with more balls than Spaulding. Some of them are outrageously mean; others simply tacky (at least in my eyes); and all are cunning…an attribute I detest. A few are corporations (remember that according to Mitt Romney, corporations are people too!)

Nothing would make me happier than hearing other stories, the more brazen, the better! Please comment below, disguising small details if you need to. My goal is to feature a “Gall of Fame” in a future blog.

Here goes:
1. A former boyfriend from my single days had a friend who worked in Garfinkle’s, an upscale Washington, DC department store. This friend regaled us with stories about female members of a well-known political dynasty who would take out designer clothes “on approval,” on Friday and return them – with armpit stains – on Monday.

2. Years ago I worked for the Philadelphia Bulletin, back when Philadelphia had more than one city newspaper (nobody has this now; in fact, a few cities may lose their only newspaper.) When employees at our competitor, the Philadelphia Inquirer, went on strike, the Bulletin’s gentlemanly owners made a corporate decision not to capitalize on the Inquirer’s misfortune by trying to woo over its advertisers and readers. This was a gesture of solidarity with their competitor, and a classy thing to do. But once the strike was over, the Inquirer started to air radio commercials that featured an excited woman saying happily: “My Inquirer…It’s back!” She went on to say that now she could use the copies she bought of “that other newspaper” to line her cat’s litterbox. I’ve hated the Inquirer ever since.

3. Another company, with notoriously underpaid workers (think $23K for new hires), buys tickets to sporting events in case it wants to entertain customers. If no customer wants the tickets, the company sells the tickets to its underpaid workers at full face value. Now somebody might say this is good business sense, but I think it would be a whole lot classier to give the tickets away to some underpaid minion who’s gone “above and beyond,” or at least draw names from a hat. The company already paid for the tickets!

4. I think it’s galling that some petting zoos have feed dispensers that dispense about a tenth of a penny’s worth of corn for 25 cents. Your kids get goat saliva on their hands; the zoo makes a 2500 percent profit and the animals are never hungry, thus saving the zoo even more bucks at feeding time.

5. I once worked in corporate communications for a railroad, which faced frivolous and even outrageous lawsuits all the time. I remember one case when a two-year-old girl crawled onto the railroad tracks and a crew member crawled onto the snowplow in front of the locomotive to scoop her up in time, saving her life (Fortunately the train was moving slowly.} Guess what? Her parents still hired a lawyer!

6. An electrical engineer we’ll call “Ted” decided he wanted out of the Florida-based business he shared with another engineer, “Joe.” Ted “lawyered up” to make sure he got his fair share of the accounts receivable and the value of the business, and Joe was stunned. Just before he dropped the bomb on Joe, Ted and his family took a lavish tour of Europe, and spent several nights staying for free with Joe’s brother in Paris.

7. OK, on to the personal realm…a friend of a friend once received a new Sunbeam Mixmaster as a gift because her old one had broken down after many years of service. This bold and brazen article put the broken-down mixer in the new mixer’s box and returned it to the store for a full refund. I kid you not!

8. A  relative of another friend brought a van to her parents’ home within hours after her mother passed away so she could get first dibs on the furniture and jewelry, ahead of her sisters.

9. A friend of mine was invited to the wedding of a coworker’s son’s, a young man whom my friend did not know. She and her husband went to the wedding, which was so big that she was among the many guests who never had a chance to chat with the bride and groom. She never received a thank you note for her gift, either. But now the bride is expecting and my friend has received an invitation from her coworker to the baby shower!
10. A former neighbor of mine, who is from a very wealthy family, once bragged that she was able to get free strollers for all three of her kids by milking the warranty system. The first was a shower gift. She brought this first one to a local store towards the end of its two-year warranty, claiming it was defective and clamoring for a new one. She did the same thing with the replacement stroller two years later.

So did this get your juices flowing? Please feel free to chime in!

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9 thoughts on “The Unmitigated Gall of Fame

  1. Read Philip K. Howard’s “The Death of Common Sense” – all about crazy lawsuits and regulations. That will make you think the entire world is made of people like this. It’s disheartening, but funny when it’s retold. Like your stories!

  2. I was going to add one that immediately came to mind but I see you already captured it (#7). Will mull it over and check back tomorrow — can’t wait to see the comments on this one!

  3. When I was in high school, my history teacher had a cabinet with snacks in it. He sold them to the students because he knew how hungry people get in class, and wanted to make sure that everyone could keep their attention. It ran on the honor system, so you would add 50 cents to the locker and take a snack. One of the students not only stole snacks, but took all of the money!

  4. Your Article is so well done, unfortunately there are still many who want to have more than they want to give. That’s how societies fail. Great job.

  5. So very very true!!!!! The real shame is that it only takes a FEW to make headlines. Most would never think of doing these things but they are in the shadows!!!
    Really enjoy reading your blogs. You are a most gifted writer.

  6. I don’t know if it counts but I know someone who applies to get “Store Credit Cards” to get the 10% off on his/her purchase in different stores (Target, Old Navy, Gap… ) and then at the end of the process, this person CAN’T remember her/his SSN and then the process can’t go through. But still, get’s the money off for applying!

    I guess is also kind of smart…

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