About a month after I suffered a cardiac arrest on the way to customs at the Calgary airport, the fog that had followed the initial total darkness in my brain, began to dissipate. The panic of falling asleep for fear of not waking up gradually faded away. Physically there was no residual damage whatsoever, but the emotional scars from the incident have changed the way I deal with unpleasant people.
One day I ran into an exchange between two women on our local tango list. One had forwarded a series of long posts describing in tabloid like detail the confidential information Valorie had been sharing during the ordeal, including very intimate family information regarding my status. The other’s one line response was This girl writes beautifully, and then she went on writing that she had forgotten something she wanted to gossip about.
This girl was Sandra Miller. She is the host I never got to meet in person.
According to her partner Ralph Bennetsen, she is a former Public Relations executive he took under his wing and helped to found the Epicurean Tango Society early in 2010. I know, because I spent almost a year of weekly telephone calls mentoring, advising, and teaching her how to be an honest promoter and a successful member of an established tango community. During that time, I sent her CDs with music for her milongas, Mardi Gras masks, and even Chicory Coffee. Such was the relationship we had developed. It seemed the right thing to do, to share the knowledge and to support a total neophyte trying to fit into an existing community. We have done many times over the years, and I don’t regret doing that with her.
Almost a month passed after my return from Calgary, when I realized that I had not heard from Sandra and Ralph. I wrote expressing my gratitude to both of them for being there to support and comfort Valorie and my daughter, and hoping that they had understood that for Valorie and Gina, the person lying on a hospital bed was a husband and a father, and that their only concern in mind was to make sure he received the right medical treatment and that he could return home safely.
I was also very happy that they had resumed their activities with success, and wished them both a very special Merry Christmas and a Happy and Very Prosperous New Year.
I wrote to Sandra and Ralph a number of times in the span of two months. They have 66 copies of our Gotta Tango books that we had shipped to Calgary to sell there, as per her request, along with a couple of dozens of Mardi Gras masks Sandra planned to sell at the Epicurean Tango Society‘s Mardi Gras party in March 2011. We wanted to a figure out a way to dispose of our books.
It has been been four and a half months, and we have not heard or read a word from either one of them. I asked for ideas and suggestions to many people I trust. I was shell shocked by the responses! Here is a sample.
– Sorry because she took a traumatic event in your life and used it to promote herself in tango. How pathetic is that? It hurts me too much to see people like Sandra use tango so selfishly to promote themselves.
– Whatever Sandra was to you before you went to Calgary, she obviously isn’t a friend to you now…
– I guess you can never tell about people by appearances. Sorry to hear that you’re having to deal with this kind of person.
– This lady sounded like a piece of work from the start. Asking Valorie to do a class while you were in intensive care? She is crazy. It sounds like you are not going to get your books back… And, tough if the post upsets her. She was your friend. She’s acting like SHE got screwed. Like you guys just didn’t keep your commitment because of some silly reason. Sorry that you have to deal with people like that.
– Unbelievable…..she was using your tragedy to gain “friends” for marketing purposes. She’s gone from my friends list. Sorry this happened to you 😦
– I did find it ‘weird’ that after your misfortune she asked to be my ‘friend’ on fb. I thought a friend of yours would be a friend of mine. I will ‘unfriend’ her immediately.
I’m very disappointed because I trusted and believed that these two were honest, ethical and decent people. I can’t figure out the reason for their behavior, what’s in their minds, or why they’ve chosen to act in such an uncivilized manner.
The odyssey tested my family’s resilience and determination in making sure I had the proper care, and that my return home was safely planned. I know that their focus on the real crisis is what saved my life. There is no doubt that they did the right thing.
I’m grateful for having lived to talk about it, and for getting to see what life might have been if I hadn’t come back.
So, the time has come to bring closure to this unfortunate chapter. Sandra Miller had the choice of acting like decent, honest, and responsible adults do. Both her and Ralph seem to have chosen to act the ways dishonest people do, and that makes me sad and sorry. We are writing off 66 books that we sell for $25. each, and the cost of two dozen Mardi Gras masks. I would have preferred to tell them to keep them for all their troubles. Instead, we feel our trust violated, and our property stolen.
The way some people act can make us all proud to be in the tango. This girl writes beautifully, but her dishonesty and lack of ethics are a real shame and she doesn’t deserve to be part of the tango world we live in.