| Piecrust Promises
Once upon a time . . .
How many stories have begun this way? Too many, I suppose. It's
a catch phrase, designed to draw you into the beginning of the story.
I think it's much better than "it was a dark and stormy night",
but than who am I to know. For those who don't know, a piecrust
promise is a promise that is easily made and easily broken. I used
to think that it was just a catch phrase, but that was then, and
this is now. My mother once promised me she would never again allow
a boyfriend to interfere and distrupt in our families' life, that
family came first.
Once upon a time, I was sitting in the dentist office staring
out the window as the receptionist set up my next appointment when
I noticed that she was using a standard Microsoft product to track
clients appointments. It was at that moment I had an epiphany. In
that small dental office, who had set up that Microsoft product,
who installed the operating system, ran the cables, or even bought
the power strips? Staring out the window of the dozens of other
little offices, mostly medial and dental, I wondered who set up
their computers. A new business was born. I would hire myself out
to business too small to warrant a full time computer staff.
It wasn't bad work, but at least it was steady. I was never going
to get rich, but it was better than contracting, and certainly better
than working retail. The work of software installation for offices
started to dry up as more and more people became computer savvy
and installation routines become easier and easier. As the web grew
in popularity, I shifted from software installation to web page
requests. It seemed like everybody and their brother needed a web
page for selling something. I suppose it was only a matter of time
before porn and the web merged.
A person once told me that all internet technologies are the direct
result of the porn industry. Like so many others, I could see the
huge profit potential of a porn site with minimal work. I could
sit in my home office, update the site, and let retailers and advertisers
pay me for my traffic. And what traffic there was! A porn site,
even a bad one, receives 100 times the traffic a regular site does.
The only problem in entering into this business was the cost outlay.
Unlike non-porn sites, everybody wants a piece of this cash cow.
The cost of set up was a bit more than I could afford. Desperate
to tap this golden faucet I did what all sons do when they run out
of money. I turned to my mother. She in turn, asked her new boyfriend,
who had money, and prior business experience to help.
I wish I knew then what I know now ( ah, hindsight, i sn't that
a dream of all of us? ). When Glenn agreed to loan me the money,
I should have said no. I should have just walked away, but I didn't.
Glenn mailed off checks to pay for the hosting fees, setup, and
domain name. I also wanted to cash in on others like myself, so
I used the name of my business for the domain name with the idea
of using it promote web page development. Any porn sites I would
do would fall underneath that as demonstrations of my abilities
as a web designer. Those web pages would earn me money, and the
portal page would earn me clients.
As soon as the site was live, I got to work. I promoted the site
with link trades, link lists, and mailing lists. Anything I could
think of to drive traffic. I avoided the whole spam issue, though.
I worked late into the evening trying to generate traffic and keep
the sites fresh. I gathered advertisers and merchandise affiliates
to generate income. The only time I took off was to run Charelen
to the dentist, and to take her out now that then for dinner. Charlene
wasn't happy with all this, but she started singing a different
tune when the checks started rolling in. I paid Glenn back all of
his money at the end of the first week, with interest for his trouble.
The first month whizzed by. No web development clients came in,
but the money from the advertisers, partnership, and affiliates
was more than enough for me.
One bright sunny Monday morning, I woke to find I couldn't check
the domain mailbox. Thinking it was just a glitch, I proceeded with
my normal Monday task of updating the content, and checking the
on-line statistics of my advertisers. I couldn't do either. Now
I knew there was something very wrong. I put a call into the web
host and discovered the horrible reason. I was told that the owner,
the person who signed the checks, came down to see them personally
several times during the month, and had informed them that he needed
to change the pass codes since he had to let a disgruntled employee
go. Yes, that's right folks , Glenn claimed the whole thing as his,
and that I was "just an employee " - a disgruntled ex-employee.
As if that wasn't bad enough, he had a notarized statement that
showed he was owner of not just the porn sites, but the web development
business as well. The notary public and paralegal that did the work?
You'll never guess. It was my mother.
I was locked out of everything. All of it, the host, the domain
name, advertisers, affiliates. All of them had been visited several
times during the month by the true owner of the business, Glenn.
I was listed everywhere as just an employee. I screamed, fought,
begged, all to no avail. In the end, I had to accept the fact that
all that I had done was taken from me , gone, and my mother was
I wish I could say that it ended there, but it didn't. Unbeknownst
to me, Glenn also ponied up the money to help my mom prop -up her
Paralegal business. In return, she handed over all financial control.
She didn't just have him handle all her business accounts; she also
gave him control of her personal finances, her checking account,
credit cards, all of it! Everything was managed by Glenn. She was
only allowed to keep the cash that came in through her already struggling
A few years prior, when my mother didn't have enough credit to
secure a car loan, we put a car loan in my name. I had also given
her a department store credit card on the promise that she would
pay for any charges on said card. I never thought about it until
the moment my whole business became somebody else's property with
her help ....
After a few days of fighting with everybody , trying hard to convince
them that I was the true owner of the business, and that Glenn was
just the financier, I got a little call from Glenn. I was told that
I was indeed his employee and that I should get used to it. He told
me that I would not be doing any more web sites for anybody else
other than him. He also wanted to have control of my finances as
he did my mother 's. I told him what he could do with his proposal
in no uncertain terms. He told me I wasn't "dedicated"
enough, and needed to spend more time with the business and less
time with Charlene. He threatened me and my wife with physical violence,
but I shrugged that off. It was then he played his only trump card.
Since he paid my mom's insurance, and making the car payments, he
would stop paying them and leave the car, engine running, in a high
crime area downtown so that it would be stolen and I would be responsible
for the remainder of the loan. Since DMV listed me as the owner
of the car, I retrieved the car from my mother, kicking and screaming,
before he could pull any stunts.
Is it me or does this read like a bad Jerry Springer episode? Hoping
things would die down; I started planning to rebuild my shattered
web presence. I scraped up the money and started over, although
my heart wasn't in it any more. I spent more time visiting job sites
and going on interviews than I did updating the site. After a few
weeks I got a real, 9-5, job and put the past behind me.
A few months after the above incident,I had completely forgotten
about the credit card I had given my mom. We needed something and
I went to use the account that I had given my mom (it was in my
name afterall) . I got to the store and lo and behold could not
use the card. The card was run to its limit and the account had
been closed due to non-payment for 60 days. It now had to be paid
in full to be re-instated. As if this wasn't bad enough, the only
other time I had ever used the account was to buy Charlene the lipstick
she needed for the wedding. A $15 tube of lipstick had now cost
me $500 plus a black mark on my credit. I called Glenn to tell him
to stop interfering in my family's private business; he said that
there was nothing I could do about it since my mom had signed everything
over to him. He said that he was not going to allow my mother to
pay this bill. This was too much, I stormed over to see my mother,
and she said that what ever Glenn said goes.
Then I got a call from the power company telling me that a bill
had gone unpaid for 90 days (the maximum they allow) and my power
was to be disconnected. I suspected some more Glenn funny business.
I checked all of my statements and everything seemed on the up and
up. I trundled over their offices to show them I was all paid up.
It seems that when my mom got her apartment the bill was somehow
set up in my name. I paid the remaining balance, and told them to
shut it down because I didn't live their anymore.
I moved on with my life, saddened by the loss of all that I worked
for, saddend even more by my mom's descent into virtual slavery.
I still do web sites (like this one), but I always thing twice before
I utter the words "I promise".