I’m feeling guilty and want your honest opinion about how I treated my reindeer who helped me out at Christmas time last year. I can’t actually quite remember the name of this reindeer but I do remember its number, 573B, ok confession number 1, I looked up the reindeer’s reference number in the system. Hey with so many reindeer’s you sort of lose track reference numbers are a good way of knowing one reindeer from another especially with the language skills of some reindeers, can’t blame the reindeer’s for the tough life they have can you? I don’t do background checks on the reindeers I buy services from who would it’s only advertising at Christmas time after all.
But I digress this is supposed to be me giving you a truthful summary of how I treated reindeer 573B last Christmas. Reindeer 573B came to me at a Christmas party, ok I saw an opportunity to increase my magazine sales by having something Christmassy hanging off my tabard. I’d been looking for something to hang from the zip and when the reindeer, which had been used as decoration for the main present in a lucky dip, came my way I did see the potential sales, contracting the reindeer to take care of my advertising needs, would bring. My job last Christmas was selling a magazine in the street on a self employed basis.
The reindeer was down on its luck and struggling to get enough work to feed itself, the poor thing had lost its stable the day before it’s job decorating the lucky dip Christmas present. “That’s terrible” I said, “but I may have a opportunity for you”. The reindeer looked hopeful and we discussed terms of the agreement. The reindeer needed food and shelter, so I offered accommodation on a board and lodgings basis. Ok I let the reindeer live in my shirt pocket, safe and close to my heart. I did of course pay the reindeer for its services to me which was slightly less than the amount I had to charge for board and lodgings. I have my overheads to cover after all. We agreed that the reindeer would work 5 weeks in advance of its first payment and be paid once every 4 weeks thereafter.
Anyway, one morning when 573B, came to be placed on the zip I realised one of its antlers was missing. We were getting on really well and were now on number only terms this was not just any reindeer it was 573B, I had dropped the formal title of reindeer I feel we were getting along grand and was of course concerned that 573B wasn’t looking after itself properly. There was also the matter of 573B appearing not to eat very well or at all, if truth be told.
Thing is although I did intend to buy 573B proper reindeer food I just never got round to it. I was on and off rough sleeping at the time and experiencing a lot of bullying type behaviour from other homeless people. I had been forced out of the night shelter by a couple of people who slept there, the night shelter staff never barred me but theres only so much being shouted at, having any conversation with friends interrupted by having someone loudly state that I am guilty of a long list of crimes, which are technically an anatomical impossibility for me to commit, and other similar behaviours. Sometimes fellow clients can bar a person from a service by they’re behaviour. Services provided by charities or churches designed for homeless and vulnerably housed to use, are only run by the unstated consent of those actually using these services. I was also experiencing similar harrassment at the free food places, I was having a tough time as you can imagine, does this excuse my failure to buy reindeer food?
I’m not a nasty person I offered 573B a share in all the food I had but 573B always refused it, said it only ate reindeer food and what I was offering was not appropriate. Is the lack of acceptance and gratitude my fault?
At this point I can hear some of you, my good readers, start to suggest that if 573B wasn’t eating the food I was offering, why didn’t I take the price of board away and just ask 573B to pay for the lodgings element. Well if I took away the board cost of the board and lodgings it would set a precedent for any other creature that I provided board and lodgings for in the future. Some creatures can’t actually source food for themselves and I would be negligent if I only provided lodgings. I’m not a heartless person I care. The other thing was 573B owed me money, it hadn’t paid a penny by this time for the board and lodgings service I had provided, I didn’t chase 573B for the money, as I knew that 573B would not get paid until it had provided 5 weeks of advertising to me. 573B was free to sell its advertising services to others and thus earn more. I can’t be blamed for 573B not looking for suplimentary forms of income. 573B was and still is a free agent.
To cut a long story short after 573B’s self neglect caused it to lose its second antler I was forced to let 573B go. It hadn’t completed the first 5 weeks of advertising and the agreement clearly stated that if 573B was unable to deliver advertising services for the initial 5 week period this failure would result in 573B forfeiting any entitlement for financial recompense relating to advertising supplied. A reindeer with no antlers is useless for Christmas advertising as nobody can tell what sort of animal it is. A broken antlered reindeer doesn’t really shout ‘good will to all men’, neglect and exploitation is closer to the message it gives. That negativity is not going to increase sales of a magazine in the street. What choice did I have but to let Reindeer 573B go?
I must say Reindeer 573B sees things slightly differently and we are now involved in a sort of industrial dispute. Reindeer 573B has made some legal blustery threats but there is no evidence that Reindeer 573B will carry through its threats, as I’ve heard on the grapevine that this particular reindeer has been made legal blustering threats before. While 573B was providing its advertising service, it did show me some paperwork which appeared to relate to complaints but the responses didn’t match up with the wording of the complaints Reindeer 573B had written. I think I’m safe from the court action this problematic reindeer threatens. However back to the original question did I do wrong by Reindeer 573B?
(Any comments most welcome I promise not to use any for purposes of defence in the outside chance this reindeer does get a court hearing).