Last year I briefly worked for a start-up that was founded by a housemate of a friend of mine. (At the time I wrote in this blog that he was a friend of a friend. In reality the two of them share the same house. I didn’t want to go into too many details about my friend because I didn’t want his home life to be adversely affected by whatever I write in this blog.) Basically the start-up would sell disposable jumpsuits that were pre-sprayed with Sawyer Permethrin spray. I did the administrative tasks, including manually spraying these jumpsuits with the permethrin spray and packing them into plastic bags.
There were weird things about the start-up from the beginning, such as the owner’s insistence on using my Square reader card for all credit card transactions (even though it was connected to my PayPal account and not the start-up’s) instead of getting one for the start-up. But I had let my bullshit guard down mainly because he was my friend’s housemate. On top of it this person was dealing with his own struggles with Lyme disease while also simultaneously dealing with a partner with dementia. If it weren’t for my compassion and softheartedness, I probably would’ve walked out the door way sooner because I grew weary of dealing with the frequent reprimands for any slight mistakes while being discouraged from taking any notes on procedures so I can do my job better. (He expected me to just retain his instructions in my head instead of taking notes.)
Even though I tried to encourage the founder to get a free blogging account, he talked me into writing a post in this very blog instead and I foolishly went along with it. I wrote this post about what I was doing and I included a selfie of me wearing one of the jumpsuits.
We were preparing for formally rolling out the jumpsuits at the Loudon Lyme 10K/5K/1K Fun Run. When the founder asked me about other events, I mentioned the Greenbelt Green Man Festival that took place the weekend before the Loudon event. By that point it was too late to get a vendor booth but he talked me into wearing one of the jumpsuits to that event and sell them from a large Aldi recyclable shopping bag. Even though I got plenty of attention, I failed to sell a single jumpsuit. The start-up owner wasn’t too concerned about the lack of sales and he assured me that we would sell more at the next event.
I naturally assumed that we would have a vendor booth for the Loudon Lyme event where we would sell the jumpsuits. In fact I even helped out with designing promotional materials that I assumed would be displayed at the booth along with the jumpsuits. It wasn’t until two days before this event I was told that there wouldn’t be a vendor booth. That was how I found out that the founder had this sales plan where you never register for vendor booths at events. Instead you would just show up to these events wearing one of the jumpsuits while selling the others from backpacks—just like I did at the Greenbelt Green Man Festival.
Anyway we failed to sell a single jumpsuit and the person sent me a text message a few days later accusing me of self-sabotage. I was pissed at that point because I had written that blog post promoting the start-up and it was basically too late for me to delete it since it’s common knowledge that what you put online lasts forever. So I wrote a retraction post where I announced a new policy where I would no longer write about work I do for other people until after a project is finished and I provided details as to why I’m no longer with the start-up that I previously wrote about. I basically put that start-up behind me after I wrote that post.
I would occasionally hear from my former boss on Facebook but we didn’t interact very much. A few days ago he tagged my name to a Facebook page that was a sales page selling permethrin-treated jumpsuits. I took a look at that page. It looked like it wasn’t even completed and it didn’t look like it was a real business page. There was no email address, phone number, nor any other information about that business other than the name. There was one post on that page that said “Don’t tick me off” but that was it. Here’s is why this page raised my ire: This page was using my selfie as an avatar, implying that I was the owner of that company. Which meant that the one post on that page had my selfie next to it, implying that I was the one who wrote that.
I sent a message to my former boss asking him if that was his page but he didn’t respond. The next day I decided to send an email my friend asking him if he knew anything about this since they are still housemates. My friend promptly responded with an email where he said that his housemate had not mentioned reviving his jumpsuit business at all nor had he seen any evidence that he had done so (such as seeing an excess amount of jumpsuits lying around the house). I began to think that some unknown sleazy asshole was trying to start some bogus business on Facebook while using my selfie as the face of that fake business and that was why my former boss tagged my name.
So I reported that page to Facebook. After I did that, I sent a message to my former boss thanking him for letting me know about this page and I had reported it to Facebook for using my photo without even telling me. At that point he finally responded saying that, yes, it’s his page and he doesn’t know how to remove my photo that he uploaded on that page without even telling me. He offered to pay me for the use of my image.
Six months after I wrote my original retraction post, I made an update at the end of that post because the founder finally paid me the rest of the money he owed me and I wrote that update to reflect that fact. At the time I wrote:
Would I work for him again? I don’t know. It really depends on a lot of things (such as whether he would do things differently now or not).
After his latest shenanigans with using my selfie as the face of that Facebook page without even telling me fist, I have decided that there’s no way in hell I would work for him again. It was bad enough how he ran that start-up last year. What he recently did is totally sleazy and unethical and I want no part of that.