The Bookstore of Hard Knocks

Story Submitted by Joel:

Phyllis and I met by chance at a bookstore.  She was leafing through a T. S. Eliot book and, having read The Waste Land once upon a time, commented, "Good book."

She replied, "You're familiar with Eliot's work?" and the next thing you know, we were sitting down for coffee.

She was studying English at a nearby college (she was younger than she looked) and promised to send me some of her own original work, including some poetry and short stories.  As an appreciator of literature (and occasional dabbler in writing it, myself), I looked forward to reading her works.

They arrived via e-mail a week to the day.  I opened the Microsoft Word (.doc) file over a cup of tea and prepared to enjoy her works.

An error message appeared, saying that the files could not be opened in Microsoft Word.  It asked if I wanted to open them in another program in an effort to recover the text.  This has happened to me before, when opening files that are saved incorrectly.

When I did manage to open them, hundreds of pages of garbled text in at least a dozen fonts greeted me.

I wrote her back, asking her to resend them, as they didn't come through properly.

She wrote back, asking me how I liked her stories.  I wrote her again to explain that her files were somehow corrupted, and that none of my word processing programs could open them correctly.

She didn't write back for a day, then wrote me, asking if I'd like to meet up over drinks the following day to discuss what I thought of her work.

I told her that I would love to meet up, but that I'd be unprepared to discuss her work, as it had not come through in a readable way.

Again, she ignored that part of my message, so I figured that she would maybe be bringing me a hard copy upon our meeting.

We met over wine at a local restaurant and after catching up, she asked me what I thought of her work.

I told her, "I wrote in my e-mails that it didn't come through quite right.  Everything was garbled and corrupted in the files.  Would you mind resending them?"

She looked as though I had told her that her work was shit.  She downed her glass of wine in less than three seconds and said, "Sure, fine.  Whatever."

I reiterated that I had every intention of reading them, but that the files didn't come through properly.

She picked up her end of the tablecloth, knocking my wine glass over, wiped her mouth with it, and stood up.

"I'm going to go and send it to you, right now," she said, and left.  I was too stunned to follow, although that might have had to do with the wine that was dribbling onto my lap.

I settled the tab and called her.  She picked up and I apologized for offending her, if I had inadvertently done so.

To that, she laughed and hung up.  I never heard from her again, and to this day, I have no idea what it was that set her off.


  1. A Bad Case of No Reading Comprehension

  2. one word: .pdf

    She needs to learn how to use adobe reader.

  3. @Erik

    Your names like my name!
    ...Sorry. Got a little excited there.

    Also, wiped her mouth with the tablecloth? WTF?

  4. She obvs thought you were a lying sack of shit (we know you're not), as this sounds like the typical excuse that a guy would give when he doesn't want to tell the girl that he hates her writing. She probably ignored all the messages, hoping to give you time to read them before you met up, a "last chance" if you will.

    I would have taken a screen shot of the whole mess and sent it to her so she'd at least know you weren't lying. But you're probably better off without her.

  5. What are you talking about? That garbled mess was her writing. It's abstract don't you know? No wonder she was offended. You pretended to like literature and didn't even know about the new trend in writing.

  6. Hopefully the OP learned her lesson: MS Word format doesn't work well for interchange with other people.

    1. Sorry, I meant Phyllis not the OP, obviously. :)


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