I had been meaning to write about this experience for quite a while for my
blog, but Wayne and Nicole from The Right Buzz bribed me with chocolate and
dry British humor. You gotta love ‘em! For the sake of maintaining people’s
privacy, I have changed names, events and locations.
During my college days, I was able to balance partying, good grades, work,
extra-curricular activities, and graveyard meditating all at once. My morning
commute consisted of listening to Therion or Cannibal Corpse whilst sipping on a
hot cup of black coffee. My monochromatic wardrobe just made life easier. I did
get the occasional odd stare.
I, for the most part, enjoyed many of my classes. I had a good relationship
with many of my professors; not to say that I didn’t struggle with a few difficult
ones. I made many friends and had many odd experiences.
I will always remember the first day. I was on my way to a political science
class. I was waiting with four other students for the elevator. One of them looked
my way and gave me a half smile. I returned it with a nod. He was wearing a t-
shirt with the lyrics of Voodoo Child inscribed on his chest. According to my
registration sheet, my class was on the fifth floor. The elevator arrived after five
agonizing minutes. The doors opened and students corralled their way out. There
was this one girl, carrying a Longchamp bag, would not get off because she was
too busy having a quarrel with someone on her pink phone. She was blocking the
way; stuck in her own little world.
Unexpectedly, Voodoo Child guy shoots me a quick glance and grabs my
hand leading me into the elevator. He pushed his way through, as other students
followed suit, making a point to Longchamp Bag Girl that the universe does not
revolve around her. Flabbergasted, she scoffed out loud. How dare we not wait
for Her Majesty to finish her call!
“I’m Eugene. This is my second semester here.” Voodoo Child guy half-
smiled again, proudly.
“I’m Maureen. This is my first day here.” I replied expressionless.
I finally reached my destination. I took a seat and lo and behold, there was
Eugene asking me if he could take the seat next to me. I didn’t mind just as long
he didn’t bore me with the philosophical findings of Jim Morrison. It was going to
be a few minutes till the professor was scheduled to arrive. I took out a book and
started to read.
“You read French?” He pointed at my book.
“Not really.” I replied.
“You’re reading Pensées by Blaise Pascal.” He scoffed with a smile.
I ignored him.
I didn’t want to have this conversation with a stranger. I was French
educated for a few years. I didn’t want people knowing that especially in the
country I was living in at the time where many revered French speakers and
belittled English speakers, especially Americans, particularly ones with a heavy
Brooklyn accent. I had successfully oppressed that part of me for years. I was
bullied by classmates and teachers alike. I also did not like telling people that I
was American. I just let them assume that I went to an American school. Anyways,
that’s another story. I was reading Blaise Pascal that day because my friend Harry
had hooked me up to write a student’s paper. We both went to the same school
the year before graduating. He was my broker. In these situations, one would
need a middleman. No one knew who wrote the papers. They just knew Harry
provided. I paid him a good commission. It was a good arrangement. Any time a
student got caught, nothing would trace back to me. As for Harry, no idiot would
dare snitch on him. He would bring that person down and their whole family tree.
He was street smart and a good friend. We were on the same sports team at
school. We always had each other’s back.
Over the course of a few weeks, Eugene and I became friends. He knew I
wrote for the university’s poetry and short story section. He took on a part-time
job as a cashier at the supermarket I frequented near my favorite graveyard. We
would run into each other in the hallways or at the café on campus.
One day it stopped…
I never saw him again at the supermarket or on campus. He just
disappeared. Harry told me that Eugene had transferred to another university.
Word had it that he had a major problem with one of the professors. Knowing
Eugene’s short temper and disdain for many social norms, I wasn’t too surprised.
I ran into him one day at a rave. I was with a group of friends including
Harry. We went somewhere quiet to talk and he explained to me that he had
transferred and was at a university near where my parents lived. He just didn’t
feel comfortable at the former college. We exchanged numbers and we met a
few times for coffee. I would help him brainstorm for his marketing classes and I
got a history lesson about Jim Morrison in return.
A year and a half later, he landed a paid internship. He was promised a full-
time position upon the completion of his degree. We would still meet up and talk
writing and business. We would brainstorm about ideas for his final paper. He had
writer’s block and even without that, he could not put down his ideas properly on
paper. I almost always knew what he wanted to write because I was his friend and
I wrote other people’s papers. I found nothing wrong with helping him. Life was
good; I was getting paid to ghostwrite articles and a few literary pieces.
A few weeks passed after helping Eugene with his paper and I received a
phone call from a number I didn’t recognize. I picked up. New people call me all
the time either returning a phone call for jobs I’ve applied to or someone needing
“Hello?” I greeted expecting to hear someone’s secretary.
“Allo, Am I speaking with Maureen?” The man with a light French accent.
“Yes, this is she.”
“I am sorry to bother you, Maureen. Let me introduce myself. My name is
Remington Scott. My understanding is that you are friends with an individual by
the name Eugene Dev. He is an employee in my office. I would like to meet with
you. I need to speak with you face to face.” He said.
“Is Eugene alright? I don’t understand.” I felt quite alarmed. I knew Eugene’s
family was trying to settle in Europe and was quite alone.
“No, Eugene is dandy. Nothing’s wrong.” He reassured me.
“Alright.” I took a deep breath.
“I just need to speak with you about some work, but I don’t want you calling
Eugene. I kindly ask you not to say anything to him at all. We did not have this
conversation because I can only presume you have never heard of me. Please.”
Okay…this was weird. Not alarmingly weird but weird.
I was always sworn to secrecy in my line of work albeit accounting, ghostwriting,
or hiding my friend’s pack of cigarettes from her parents. Nothing new to me. I
really didn’t know what to think. I did not want to betray a friend’s trust. I decided
to hear out what this well-spoken man had to say and then decide.
I agreed to meet Mr. Scott at an upscale café, frequented by businesspeople, on a
Friday. When I got there, I was led by a hostess to one of the outside tables on the
veranda. Mr. Scott was already there looking at what appeared to be a leather
portfolio. He stood up, shook my hand, and insisted I call him ‘Remington’.
Remington was in his early forties. A tall slender man who wore a crisp
Ralph Lauren shirt with Ferragamo loafers. He was a man who was incredibly
young at heart. Unlike the suit and ties around us, he was very casual.
After exchanging pleasantries, I asked Remington what was going on.
“I am going to cut to the chase. I am the COO of X franchise. It is a new franchise
in this country. I, currently, oversee the marketing and advertising till we hire a
marketing manager. It is not part of my job description but because I know this
franchise so well; my input is kind of important. Eugene is currently running this
small department with my help. He has an assistant and works in parallel with a
small advertising agency for our media communications.”
That sounded wonderful. I am sure Eugene put in a good word for me. Therefore,
Remington did not want me to call Eugene. This was probably an informal
interview. I didn’t want to jump into conclusions.
“Alright, that is good to hear. He is probably doing a good job. I don’t really
understand where I fit in this equation.” I said nervously.
He takes a sip of water and shifts his body towards me. He holds up his leather
portfolio, snaps it shut and places it in front of me.
“Our former marketing manager was running all the work by me. Like I have
mentioned before, I am well acquainted with the franchise. After a while,
something started to bug me. As I sifted through some hooks and campaigns, it
dawned upon me that Eugene was not being honest. He brought the first
campaign hook to us. Then, the second and then a whole marketing concept
which aligned perfectly with X’s corporate identity. The story and the writing
method were not his, no matter how much he tried to reword it. He wasn’t
fooling anyone with that dialect of English or the wittiness with those hooks.”
He motioned to me to open the leather portfolio that he had placed in front of
me. I opened it. There it was. Hours of my words and Eugene’s treachery glossed
on flyers, campaigns, and ads.
I showed no emotion, no disbelief, nothing. The work I had been helping
him with and the ideas I had been writing for him were for his job. Unbeknownst
to me, he had used his draft from a project I helped him with to get that job. It all
started coming together.
“Is he going to lose his job?” I asked.
“Well, I am ready to let him go because he is lazy and lied to me. What did you
“I have studied French literature and philosophy. I majored in Accounting and
studied Business Administration.”
“Ah, so you do have an idea about Marketing?”
“Of course, I do.”
“I want you to come to the office on Monday. I am offering you a job.”
“What about Eugene? This is crazy. I can’t do this.”
“Oh, he will be in the office. Don’t worry about him. He is going to think that he
helped you get this job.”
“How? Has he ever mentioned me?”
“Yes, how do you think I got your number? We were looking for a native speaker
for a future project. He told us about your literal contributions to the university
magazine. He gave us your contact information. A few days later, he said you had
left the university and changed your number. He claimed he couldn’t find you. Till
one day, I saw a copy of the university magazine on his desk. It was dog-eared on
an article you had written. I read it and you put two and two together. I decided
to call the number he had given me. What did I have to lose?”
Remington picks up the check and I just sit dumbfounded for the next half
hour. I started reliving every moment in my mind. To even think that I dragged
him home drunk once and put him to bed. I was nothing but a good friend.
I called Harry. He picked up on the first ring. I told him about the craziness
that just happened. He told me that he knew of Remington Scott. He had made
his mark in the industry as one of the top COOs. He also taught at a French
University. He had connections with all the movers and shakers. Harry wasn’t
surprised to hear about Eugene’s backstabbing endeavors. Harry knew everything
I woke up late Saturday morning only to find five missed calls from Eugene. No
texts. No voice messages. I called him back and after some small talk; he tells me
that he has helped me find a job.
“Maureen, I gave them your name and told them that you were a very trust-
worthy person. I told HR and the COO that I wanted you to be my marketing
assistant.” He said softly.
“Sure. No problem.” I answered.
“You don’t sound too excited. You will thank me later. You should take this
opportunity because you don’t have that much experience and it is a new
franchise. I will be able to teach you many things. Don’t worry.”
Who said I was worried?
I met him wide-eyed and bushy- tailed on a Monday morning in front of the
franchise’s head office. Did I mention that he also gave me a pep talk?
Eugene introduced me to Remington. He told Remington about how good I
was with ideas and writing but how I did not have practice in the marketing field
yet. He mentioned how he would teach me. I was supposed to feel rage. I did not.
I was not angry with Eugene. I felt nothing but pity towards him.
I was hired on the spot. Two weeks later, Eugene was let go.
He told all our friends, including Harry, how I stole his job from under his
How he got me this job and how his boss let him go…
That I was an unfaithful friend...
No one believed him. If they did, I didn’t care.
I knew in my consciousness that I did right by my friend. When you stab
someone in the back, there is going to be blood. The victim’s blood is going to
stain, and someone is bound to notice. Remington smelled that blood on my
Kreator t-shirt from a mile away like a bloodhound.
I went on to work at that franchise and another with Remington. We are
still friends till today and I will always have a high regard for him. And this is how I
started out as an accidental copywriter. Thank you, Mr. Remington Scott.