On Holding a Pointless Grudge

January 15, 2012

The Sierra Nevada mountains from near Bodie, California: November 2006

There's this public figure I can't seem to get away from. They're on TV quite a bit and I keep seeing their face in shops, staring out at me - usually with a particularly self-satisfied grin - from adverts. Being alive in the 21st century should make me used to this sort of thing: but I always get a bit narked when I see this particular individual, because I think they owe me money.

A few years ago this person was one of a number of investors/owners of a media outlet which I did some work for. I invoiced for the agreed fee but there were delays; then the (ordinary, non-famous, salaried staff) person I dealt with left the company; then the company ceased to exist. At some point in the middle of all this, the public figure jumped ship. 

I was far from the only person who didn't get paid, and the sum involved - a couple of hundred quid - is a lot less than I understand others lost when the company went down. In many respects I was lucky to only do one piece of work for them, towards the end, and not end up with a lengthy list of unpaid invoices. So even though I could really do with that money right now, I realise feeling annoyed about it at all is a bit daft.

Worse: I have no evidence whatsoever that this particular public figure even knew that the company was failing when they ceased their involvement. Maybe they did, maybe they didn't - I just don't know. And even if they did, it's not like they did anything illegal; nor that they singled me out. It was just business, and all they probably did was act on advice from their accountant to cut their losses in an investment that had gone bad. There were other people involved too - some of them also public figures, though less ubiquitous, and who thus haven't quite achieved the same presence in my life. So me being annoyed with this one person specifically is irrational, and quite possibly unfair. 

Yet whenever I see them - and know that an automatic fact about every time I see them is that they're being paid, and paid handsomely, to show up in my life without an invitation - I get irritated. Part of it is irritation with myself for still allowing them to have this effect on me. It was a couple of hundred quid, two or three years ago - I should be able to forget about it, stop letting them have this stupid hold on a section of my psyche. But there's an equal and opposing part that won't allow me to let it go - which insists that it's the likes of me giving these sorts of things up that allows the likes of them to carry on going through life without facing up to their responsibilities. 

The likelihood of me ever standing in front of this person and being able to tell them any of this is of course pretty limited. And them not knowing just ensures that my irritability is all the more purposeless. I'm sure it reflects poorly on me as a person that I'm not able to just move on: it's certainly not something that I think has an overall positive effect on my quality of life. And yet, as irrational, small-minded and unhelpful as it surely is, I'm not ready to throw in the towel on my pointless grudge just yet.


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