Settlement by Edward M. Lerner

I’m proud of what I do, and strive to do it better every time. My doppelganger had taken a straightforward task, a process that I perform regularly, that I’ve streamlined and optimized, and somehow created an individualized abomination. My evil twin practically itemized each staple. I considered the petty venality of triple-spacing paperwork to maximize buck-a-page Xeroxing, and wanted to vomit.

SoftSell was a reputable vendor; they’d never take part in such a paper-shuffling conspiracy, pyramiding billable charges through the ludicrous exchange of standard forms. We never courier anything. It’s 1999, for God’s sake—we use the Internet.

Why would anyone tolerate this? A sneering echo of my dream self answered: had Gray not paid every extorted penny, I’d have slapped a lien on his business. Contesting my charges would have meant retaining the services of another systems integrator, whose services would come no less dearly than my own. My inner demon smirked: even then, what artificer questioned his fellow’s fees?

So Gray told himself that software upgrades aren’t done often—better to just pay, and put the unpleasantness behind him. Seething, he wrote the check.

That was always the way.

* * * *

I got up this morning with a bad taste in my mouth. The moo-shu pork at the back of the fridge might have been too old, but I don’t think that was it.

I think it was refinancing my mortgage yesterday, in the posh law offices of Gray & Associates.

As luck would have it, I’m supposed to upgrade their website soon. I’m looking forward to it.

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Categories: Edward Lerner