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A mercantile exploration from an intrepid online shopper:

I recently purchased a piece of furniture on craigslist.  I got the cash, drove to the location (the parking lot of a big box store) at the appointed time and waited.  And waited.  And they never showed up.

And from the purveyor of fine goods:

What do you do when you sell someone something online and they say they’re going to bring cash or pick it up and then they don’t show up?  Should you email them again?

LISTEN:

I don’t see how that would do any good – they’re dead.  Or at least I certainly hope they are.  Ar at least seriously injured.

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t wish death upon anyone in retaliation for flaking out, but that happens to be the only reason someone can simply not show up for an event or activity to which they have R.s.v.p.d.  Well, that and uninvited unconsciousness.

There are other issues, of course, a serious illness, death of a family member, car crash, zombie invasion – whatever.  Coma.  But as long as your cell phone works or the post office hasn’t gone bankrupt, you need to tell someone you’re not showing up.  In the event of something truly catastrophic, I’ll give you some wiggle room timing wise, but if traffic’s just messy, or it’s raining, or you’re stoned… Uh-uh.  Pick up that phone.

Before, after – whatever – people deserve an explanation.  If it’s social, “Something better came up,” or “I just didn’t feel like it anymore,” however you word it, are worse excuses than being killed in a car wreck.  But if it’s mercantile, how hard is it – I mean, really – to just email them back or send them a text saying “Hey, I changed my mind, sorry”?

The answer?

IT ISN’T.  IT ISN’T HARD AT ALL.

So why don’t people do it?

My guess is that the internet has created a well known effect of dehumanizing people on the other side of the keyboard.  Once upon a time, when the users of this device were in far flung reaches of the world, and there was less transparency in the information available to you (remember those early email addresses?  Yeesh…), one could get away with terrible behavior.  Usually just saying awful things and what have you without fear of any consequence, save whatever damage one did to one’s own soul.

But now we’re seeing more and more the willingness and ability for people to hold bad behavior to account.  If you don’t believe me, ask some recently deposed sports authorities, or members of Congress.  Or anon.

There will come a day when the rules of society, heretofore rolled back to caveman days as we scrape out a new existence on the internet, will come back in full force.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up being legislation (if it isn’t legislated out of usefulness altogether).  But when that day comes, your flaking on someone or being flaked upon will bring down the wrath of those unjustly offended, and they’ll have a legion of similarly offended and indignant people to back them up.  Just like we used to do with seated dinner parties…the unjustified absence was anathema, and severely punished.

You’ll wish you had died.

You’d feel better, at any rate.

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