Here’s What Can Go Wrong

Here’s What Can Go Wrong

Some joker once said, “An oral contract is as good as the paper it is written on.”

Many storytelling agreements do not rely on written contracts but are based only on good faith.

And they happen well in advance. You are invited. You say you will appear. And your mutual agreement is as good as a handshake. (By the way, diamond traders still seal deals and exchange huge fortunes with a mere handshake.)

But now we are in the era of email, and the unreliability of cyberspace, and things have changed. Here’s what happened to me.

It was three months before my scheduled gig, fully three months after our handshake, when I found out that my name had been left off the schedule.

I wrote, “What happened?? You asked me to tell in August, and you even approved of the name of my session and now it appears that I am not on the program at all! I only found out when I tried to list the date in the Voices in the Glen newsletter. The editor notified me. And I’ve had it on my website all along. Oh, dear!”

She [the person who promised the gig] replied, “There must be some error. You were definitely on the list. I recall putting you on the list. I will double check. I am so, so sorry. My profound apologies. I am not sure how this happened. Please give me a day or two to rectify this. I had sent around a note to have people put their dates into a google doc to make sure I had the correct schedule. Perhaps you did not get that notice and somehow your date was given away.”


Perhaps I did not get that notice? I definitely did not get that notice. But the fault is mine for not following up sooner. I should have had suspicions about the prolonged silence.

I write this article as a caveat. Check and double check. If it seems too long since you have been in contact, be suspicious that, unlikely as it seems, something may have gone awry.

She ultimately offered to add my name to share the gig with the other tellers but, she said, they were unable to reprint the flyers that had gone into print a few days before she received my email. I replied that hers was one of my favorite places to tell and I had been so pleased when she asked me, and that I had planned my entire August around the schedule, and that it was a real calamity (I thought, but did not say, breach of contract) but to travel a distance from Virginia for a chance to tell a ten minute story and my name not even mentioned on the schedule ….It did not seem worth it.

Next year I am the first on the list and I get to choose with whom I want to share the stage. But ultimately the success of that transaction will depend on me. You may be sure

that I have already plugged an early tickle date into my computer along with her telephone number and note to myself that says, “Urgent.”

submitted by Laura J. Bobrow