Communications Hide-and-Seek is a Bad Idea

Communications Hide-and-Seek is a Bad Idea

He only exists for me at present as a picture printed in a well-known university review above his article on communications. Mentally I have added thirty years to his age in the picture as he probably looks a bit different now. Dimitry – the name is changed to protect the guilty – wrote seeking help back in the dog days of January this year. His home was too cold to stay in, the surrounding territories, too hot for a relatively, but not oligarchal, rich man. I got the impression that his yacht was not sailing either because of the time of year or because others had their eyes on it, possibly as collateral, perhaps as cargo transport.

His WhatsApp was brief but clear. He needed guidance on dealing with contacts and deals in parts of the world that he was less familiar with. It’s a common request. The internationalisation of business doesn’t decline because of sanctions. Some say it increases. For all his business acumen, not in doubt considering his financial success, Dimitry was weak on the soft skills and just plain ignorant when it came to rituals and customs. Someone had taught him a little ditty during his youth and he had believed and practised it as a religion. “The hand that leads must surely know the place the body wants to go.” 

Vaguely sinister, I thought.

The second message I got from him was even clearer. It came as an email and said “Did you not receive my earlier WhatsApp?”. My emailed reply assured him both that I had received it and that I had responded within an hour. Almost a day later I got a WeChat telling me that he was now in China for a few days. I updated my WeChat and congratulated him on his speed of travel. “That’s nothing,” he replied, this time by Twitter, “I’m now about to have a chat with Elon in Boca Chica but I won’t stay for long”. A courier arrived at my office the next day with a draft document for me to check over for ‘empathy’, a concept he had apparently discovered from Musk but wasn’t quite sure how it worked.

Anxious to acquire more information about my client I turned to LinkedIn. There I got what was clearly a PR statement prepared by some smart outfit accustomed to finding the right side of a person’s face to be filmed. It referred me to a clip on YouTube in which Dimitry had declared the war in Ukraine to be a hoax and his confidence that Iranian drones were testbeds for nuclear attack to be tested in a central African country before wider application.

Instinctively I turned to Facebook where an entry – clearly by someone else – confirmed that Dimitry had entered a religious body to study for Holy Orders. No sooner had I absorbed this than a lavish Pinterest entry showed someone, unlikely to be Dimitry, wearing a rusty coloured cassock. In desperation, I sent a very sharp deet on TikTok seeking clarity on his intentions to become a client. Within a week Pravda had published Dimitry’s obituary. The picture didn’t reveal his face, just an etching purporting to be his last work of note. After his name it said simply “The first time he truly lies”. 

I penned a charming letter of condolence to his family but the courier refused to deliver it on the grounds that he had no Singapore Identity Card.

His demise won’t stop the social media contact of course.

I imagine I will be trapped in that forever.

Good morning

John Bittleston 

22 August 2023