A Story of Incredible Stupidity

on Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The following is a true story related to me over the Internet. I have attempted to calm the style down a bit and provide a more coherent time line, giving the original something of an "OMG-ectomy." The setting is a small business in St. Louis, what kind doesn’t matter.

The cast of characters:
  • Boss 1, not the brightest bulb in the pack, as will become apparent.
  • Boss 2, much smarter than Boss 1.
  • Client X, someone who has a very substantial and overdue bill.
  • Kelly, from Accounts Receivable.

It has become apparent to Kelly that Client X is a deadbeat and that the company will never see the money he owes, he has changed his cellphone number numerous times and his mailing address doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, Boss 1 doesn’t see it that way and one Friday decides to call Client X yet again to try to get him to pay his bill.

Client X apologizes profusely and says that he can pay by the 28th of the month. Then he makes a suggestion, “I was thinking it would just be faster if I did a wire transfer from my bank to yours. I’ll have my bank fax you over the form now.”

A few minutes later a fax arrives and Boss 1 brings it to Kelly to have her fill it out. The first thing Kelly notices is that the fax came from Client X’s office, not from the bank. The form requests not only the business account number, but also the beneficiary account number and the name and social security number on the account. Kelly smells a big, fat rat and calls the bank.

“First of all,” asked the bank, “how well do you know this guy who's initiating this request? If you don't fully trust him you shouldn't allow this to happen. Second, the only thing you need to share with him is the account number and routing number if he's only depositing, he can't withdraw anything if you only give him that much.”

Kelly brings this information to Boss 1 telling him, “The only numbers he needs are the ones you’d find on a deposit slip.”

Boss 1 gets angry and loud and tells Kelly just to do what she’s told!

Boss 2 overhears this heated exchange and goes to investigate. When he is told he can’t believe what he’s hearing.

“Boss 1, are you fucking insane?! You seriously think this guy is not just some scammer?! Well this is your proof that he is! This is NOT a bank form you moron! THIS IS A REALLY BAD IDEA!”

Boss 1 storms out of the room and Boss 2 hopes that’s the end of it.

Not much later Boss 2 had to go to a meeting somewhere in town. He hadn’t driven that day and Kelly gave him a ride. Along the way a still fuming Boss 2 says to Kelly, “Ten bucks says Boss 1 does it anyway and we're out all the money in the bank by Monday.”

When they return they find that Boss 1 did indeed fax the information to Client X. Boss 1 then proceeds to go ballistic on Kelly about not obeying his order and how dare she not respect his authority! Boss 2 jumps to Kelly’s defense and the two of them proceed to scream at each other for a half hour about how Boss 1 is hiding things from Boss 2, etc.

In the meantime, someone at the company has done some searching on Casenet, the online database for the state criminal courts, and it turns out Client X has a four page record that includes breach of contract, embezzlement, corporate theft and other charges. And Boss 1 gave him their banking information.

Kelly is left to go home and wonder over the weekend how she could work for someone so pig-headed, egotistical and stupid.

Boss 2 apparently called the bank because on Monday Kelly overheard another argument between the two, Boss 1 was wondering why the account was frozen.

I apologize for the lack of declining action in this story. Unfortunately, the person it came from is only an employee at the small business in this story and doesn’t hold a position important enough to know how the story ended. The company is still in business, so one can assume that cooler, smarter heads prevailed. It’s amazing what can happen due to one man’s greed and another one’s stupidity.