update: a client sent me a thank-you check as a way to avoid paying my boss

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager, where all month I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer whose client sent her a thank-you check as a way to avoid paying her boss (first update here, second update here, and third here)? Here’s the final one to wrap up the saga.

First – Gilbert and his wife. I have had 4 months of complete peace when it comes to them. The remaining warranty they had with us ran out in early February and it only took one call after that for them to realize they had completely destroyed that bridge and we would not be doing anything for them EVER again. I still pass by the last project we did for them and chuckle because the fence that was being painted still isn’t complete. The Subcontractor Rumor Mill (SRM from here on) has been telling nothing but various stories of their companies never working with them again. They had decided to add an elevator chute to their home and it never got done because the wife was consistently attacking the guys on site. A real eyesore, one they deserve. So yeah, they aren’t learning that lesson anytime soon.

The Painter – He has returned to work and I see him frequently. He and his wife are doing really well and I’m happy to say his experience didn’t change his kind heart. I know that Gilbert and his wife settled their lawsuit with him, but he signed an NDA as part of that so none of us know what he got or how badly he stuck it to them, although I am dying to know. The (usually accurate) SRM said it was a high 6 figure payout. He also has a really nice new truck. It’s way too big for him…but it’s so cute/funny watching him climb in and out of it. lol He looks really, really, happy now and at the risk of sounding cheesy, it makes my heart sing.

Kim and Cam – I am happy to report that they have remained as wonderful as they were when I last wrote to you. Our relationship blossomed and really grew at the beginning of the new year. The wigs they bought my mom were gorgeous and they remained committed to helping in any way they could throughout her treatments. They did not provide financial assistance when it came to any of the medical expenses, but that is because my dad’s health insurance is amazing and they genuinely didn’t need it (unionize, people!). They helped in other ways though, there was more than one occasion where my mom couldn’t find a safe ride to chemo (my dad was still working full time and I live an hour away – close to Kim and Cam) and they either drove there to take her themselves or arranged for their driver to be Covid tested to pick her up and assist her. And to really drive home how great they are, they paid the driver double what his normal rate was on the days he helped my mom to make up for the inconvenience, without being asked. (I know that is bare minimum but my confidence in the uber wealthy has been shot over the last 6 years.) At one point, Cam was in the hospital for nearly 2 weeks with COVID. It wasn’t looking good at one point but thankfully he recovered. He is still struggling with some mental health problems that stem from that, a side effect of Covid that I didn’t even consider and completely broke my heart to witness, but overall he’s back at about 90% and doing really well. Their help, guidance, support, etc. made my mom’s cancer that much more bearable, which leads me to the final piece of my update…

My mom – She didn’t just beat cancer, she beat cancer’s ass! Her scans stopped showing any signs of cancer before her chemo treatments had even finished and her pathology reports came back clean so no further treatments were necessary. While she has the wigs, she barely used them. She kept most of her hair and with Covid she never really left the house. We just celebrated this past weekend and everything feels great and whole again. Thanks to Kim and Cam’s support, my mom’s cancer actually brought my family closer together and allowed us to forget about some things and focus on us. I hate to say it but their support fixed my family in a way I could’ve never imagined, but that’s another story altogether, just know i am blessed.

Reading my last update again I see how much I emphasized that everything worked out the way it was supposed to and how I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be and I still feel that way. I genuinely believe that dealing with Gilbert led me back to Kim and Cam, mere months before I was going to need a lot of support in order to best help my mom and dad, and that support helped evolve my family. I can’t be more grateful for the way everything turned out. I actually just breathed a sigh of relief, I think writing this all out to you and your readers made me realize that I really am at peace, for now ;).

Thank you again to you and your readers for consistent support and advice!

{ 74 comments… read them below }

  1. AFT*

    This is a wonderful update that warms my heart! Kim and Cam sound like absolute treasures, and I’m glad they came into OP’s life when she needed them

    1. OP*

      They are absolute Angels, a gift from the Gods as me and my family have started calling them

  2. RJ*

    What a terrific update, OP and the perfect example of the right people coming into someone’s life at the perfect time. Good, continued luck to you and your family!

    1. Working Hypothesis*

      I am so glad for all of this, but most of all HOORAY FOR YOUR MOM!!!! That is wonderful.

    2. Personal Best In Consecutive Days Lived*

      Thanks for updating us on the Epic of Gilbert and His Wife. I’m so glad everything worked out for you, your family, and the painter!

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      This is all such wonderful news, so happy for your mom’s good health and how things worked out for the painter, and of course for you!

    4. allathian*

      It’s so lovely to hear that Gilbert got his comeuppance and that your family’s doing so well.

    5. EA in CA*

      So happy to hear about your mom!

      Thank you for the update. I hope the rest of the year goes just as well has the first half :)

  3. 30 Years in the Biz*

    Thank you for keeping us updated! This was an almost unceasing parade of negative incidents that deserved a happy resolution for all those good folks who persevered through health, emotional, or financial crises!

  4. Jean*

    Stories like this are one of the things that make this site so special. What an amazing update OP. We love to see it.

  5. Dona Florinda*

    That’s so heart-warming, thank you for the update. Hope you all are doing well, OP!

  6. KuklaRed*

    OK, so I am sitting here blubbering about you mom. I’m so glad that she is doing so well! And Cam too, of course. Great update!! Thank you for writing in.

  7. SheLooksFamiliar*

    The best news of all is about your mom, OP, I’m so glad she’s in better health! Kim and Cam are rockstar players on Team OP’s Mom, and I’m keeping Cam in my thoughts for a 100% recovery.

    But yeah, the rest of your update pretty great, too. People get what they put out there, right?

  8. Chilipepper Attitude*

    I mean, this should be a novel or reality show!
    So happy for you and your mom and the painter!

  9. TWW*

    Is it just me or does this whole saga feel uncanny?

    I worked for many years at a company that serviced the homebuilding industry, and this level of drama and interpersonal entanglement falls so far outside of anything I ever encountered, it makes me wonder if there was something else going on that LW was never aware of.

    Anyway, that last update is fabulous. I’m glad everything worked out in the end.

    1. Snailing*

      I live in a small town that is also a very rich town and I can totally picture this happening here – all the rich people are related or know each other, so one crazy couple can definitely cause this much damage and word gets around fast!

    2. Sleepless*

      A couple of throwaway details in the previous updates made me suspect I sat next to Gilbert in an airport shuttle once. Then I decided there are a lot of egomaniacal, blowhard, wealthy builders in my general geographic area. A LOT.

      1. OP*

        Gilbert is not a Builder fyi – just a client. The builders in my area are reasonable, if only because we share common trauma lol

    3. The Painter's Wife*

      Huh, I came here to say the opposite. My husband works as a finisher/fixer for high-end construction projects for the 1%. When something goes wrong on a job, he’s the person they call as a last resort to try to fix it. He does things like re-stain antiques that have been stained the wrong color, plaster-repair broken marble and then hand paint it to match the exact pattern of the real surrounding marble, etc.

      You would not believe how many times a year he comes home to tell me that another Gilbert’s Wife has had an emotional break down and wants my husband to be her therapist because he is under 50, attractive, and well, THERE. These women marry horrible, horrible people for money, and then are shocked to discover they are SOB SO LONELY and miserable despite never having to have a job and having an endless pile of cash to buy and do whatever they want. They throw themselves at my husband, and then when he doesn’t say much in response, inevitably, a few a year get insanely defensive and irate. It’s obscene. It’s hard to feel sympathy for the Gilberts and Gilbert’s Wives of the world, especially when it feels like they must know that sometimes their paint job costs more than his annual salary.

      My husband has been screamed at, cursed out, accused of all kinds of things, and has had clients (think drug dealers, Epstein associates, etc.) that would make your head spin. It always seems like the most wealthy clients of all are the ones fastest to shirk paying their bills, too! So OP, three cheers for finding some good rich people! Thanks also for your saga which makes me feel less alone when I hear my husband’s crazy work stories and trying to talk him off a ledge when he has to deal with a Gilbert’s Wife complaining about how she’s not being difficult, she just really wants the color to be “light black.” Sigh.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        One internship in “high end residential” plus one (and the first, to boot) really bad freelance client for residential design work and just no. I determined that I was going to need bail money in my budget if I went that route. And this wasn’t even what I’d now call “The 1%”. This was just wealthy enough to have hired help, fancy new professionally designed landscaping, and actually own a house, in a pretty HCAOL when I was a broke college kid.

        Adding: I determined I’d made a correct decision about high end residential construction when a prospective boss was describing, as over lunch small talk, how exactly to go about screwing over a contractor working on your house (approximately five years later). And I then made the correct decision about working for him – I didn’t. If you’re willing to make up nonsense punchlist items that you know are beyond the laws of logic, reason, and physics, and withhold 10% due to an incomplete punchlist? You’re garbage. (A real punchlist is fine. A punchlist that asks for things that are not possible under any circumstances is not. He was referring to the latter and explicitly said so.)

        1. OP*

          Smart! I have also heard about clients having round table meetings with their lawyers in an attempt to void that contract we signed. Its really sick and messed up. We make these people 10-40 million dollars on a house that only cost them 4-5 million to make and they are actually salivating at the mouth in an attempt to get it for 1-2 million

      2. OP*

        +1000000 billion and thank you for saying this because its hard to explain when you’ve never experienced it. People that are moderately rich think they know but, they don’t really know what its like to work for people that (like you said) are Epstein associates, billionaires, crooked politicians. Its not just about money, its about Power

        She married someone that she thought was going to respect her and give her this lavish lifestyle, and she thought she deserved it because she’s beautiful (they all are, never seen a plastic surgeon miss here) and she’s now realizing that she was a trophy that was expected to shut up and look pretty.

    4. OP*

      The town in which I work is one of the richest in the world (not just my country) and its a billionaires playground (not in a good way). Its notorious for shady dealings and well, shitty rich people. Entitlement gets you far and honestly i cant imagine a builder in literally any other city dealing with what we deal with

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Honestly – I don’t think any of us could ever have the crazy work experience of the hellmouth.

          (We definitely wouldn’t want it – and quite possibly wouldn’t survive it.)

      1. The Painter's Wife*

        OP, it’s too bad we can’t get together for a drink to swap war stories. I bet we’d be friends! I think the hardest part is when my husband makes comments on bad days along the lines of “I despise rich people.” Then normal people attack HIM as the bad human because they see *themselves* as rich and mistakenly think he is personally attacking them (he is not!). My husband tries to explain, politely and gently, that even being very upper middle class (say, making $200k-400k a year) is NOT rich. Rich is being a CEO making $70M a year/nearly $200k a **DAY**. It’s just truly not the same. It has totally changed my beliefs about income inequality.

        I’d honestly never comprehended there are people who make and have this much money before I met my husband.

  10. Wombats and Tequila*

    That was a wild ride just to read about. I can’t imagine living through it!

    I am so happy for your mom. Who knows if Cam’s support gave her immune system that extra boost it needed, but I’d like to think so.

  11. LKW*

    I truly appreciate the continued updates and I’m glad that you’ve found a place and some people that are kind and generous. I’m sure Gilbert and his wife are miserable because miserable people who treat people miserably are simply miserable, no matter how wealthy they are.

    Yay for your mom! Hopefully Cam’s issues will diminish soon.

  12. M*

    Thank you so much for the update! I am so glad that things worked out so well for you and your family. Things seem to have worked out amazingly!

  13. Lucien Nova*

    Who let the sentient onion in here? *sniff*

    I’m so glad everything’s worked out for you and yours, LW!

  14. Michelle Smith*

    Did I miss it or are we just probably not going to find out what happened with the other lawsuit that Adam started against Gilbert?

    1. OP*

      I usually don’t hear anything about how they wrap up, but Adams lawyer is quite literally THAT dude. He’s awesome. (Adam actually hired him permanently after he beat our ass in a case that should’ve been open and closed, he has not lost anything since) Things like that usually take years to finish unless they settle (which I doubt Gilbert will and I doubt Adam would want to settle for less then what he was owed – its a 7 figure amount).

      But if I do find out I can certainly update!

      1. OhNoYouDidn't*

        Please do. I was getting ready to post the same question! Love, love, love this update!

  15. Snailing*

    As an aside, I’m sighing woefully at the part in update #2 from July 2020: “We were planning on purchasing a home this year, but we will probably wait til the virus is long gone to do that.” And here we are a year later… JUST GO AWAY COVID!

    This has been a wild ride though. What on earth is going on with Gilbert’s wife to make her attack so many people?

    I’m glad you’re in a good place, OP, and all those around you too!

    1. OP*

      We have completely scrapped our plans for that unfortunately. But we arent too upset by it.

      But yeah seriously kick rocks Covid!

      I think the only thing “going on with her” is her entitlement. I also think her husband may have given her some responsibilities in an effort to keep her busy and when it wasn’t what she deemed perfect, she lost her mind. It was indeed perfect, like I said the thing that set her off was fine, but she doesn’t know any better, so she flipped.

  16. Oof*

    Dear AAM: Someone is cutting onions in my office. What do I do?
    I’m so happy for you OP, and for your whole family.

  17. Miss Marple*

    Thank you OP for your update.

    Congratulations on the wonderful news about your mum and your family becoming closer.

    I am glad Kim and Cam came into your life and are such caring and nurturing people.

    Wishing all of you the best and yes I teared up.

    It is wonderful to have people like Kim and Cam in our world that get involved to make people’s lives better.

  18. NeonDreams*

    OP, I’m so happy for you! Sounds like you went through a remarkable storm. (Check out Sara Bareilles’s Saint Honesty, awesome song.) The universe has smiled on you, indeed.

  19. I edit everything*

    Every time I read one of your updates, OP, I get a strong inkling that Gilbert is part of the Mafia. I had a friend who sold high-end windows on Long Island, and hoo boy, did he have some stories about some of his customers.

  20. File Herder*

    Thank you for the update, and I’m so glad your mum’s doing so well. And if by some chance Kim and Cam are reading this and recognise themselves – thank you for being decent people, and I hope you pull through the rest of this year without anything getting worse.

  21. learnedthehardway*

    What a wonderful update!! I’m so happy for you and your family. Wishing Cam a complete recovery and that he and Kim are as well supported in their lives as they’ve supported others.

  22. Aphrodite*

    Updates like this are just . . . perfect. For everyone in the story and everyone here.

    Well, okay, maybe not Gilbert and his wife. Or, thinking about it, maybe so . . .

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      But it does sound as if Gilbert and his wife are dealing with at least a few repercussions, even if they are totally unwilling to learn from any of them.

  23. MissM*

    Win-win-win-win all around (except the baddies of course!) What a delightful update, and I’m so happy that you’re finally shed of Gilbert et al’s influence on your life even peripherally. I also love that the painter got his big truck, and you get to see him in it regularly as a reminder of how well things did work out in the end, even if it was a horrible road to get to this place.

  24. Canuck*

    I haven’t commented on this site in years – but had to leave a note to OP on how sincerely happy this made me to read. Amazing update overall, and the most fantastic update about your mother’s kicking of cancer’s ass!!!

  25. Anoni*

    OP, this has been a journey. There were ups and downs and surprises and shocks. I’m so happy to hear your mom is better. What a wonderful couple of people to come into your life and what a wonderful way for someone horrible to leave it.

  26. kay bee*

    Alison, please save this one to repost at the end of the year. Best update ever. So happy for you and your family, OP.

  27. CatCat*

    Really happy for you, OP. Your new clients are real gems, and what a nuts ride with the former client. So glad your mom is well!!

  28. pandop*

    I am so glad things have worked out so well in the end – and thank you for updating us.

  29. Roo*

    This is my first ever comment on here, though I am a regular reader and very much enjoy and appreciate this site.
    I wanted to say how glad I was to read this update, especially after the wretchedness that went before, and most particularly since my mum is a survivor of The Big C too (thankfully she also kicked ass and took names and it hasn’t been back). Very glad to hear that there are still good souls in all levels of society, and that this turned out well for the LW/OP, her family and the painter and his loved one. I wish them all, and Kim and Cam, bless them, well. Keep smiling. x

  30. Enginerd*

    I feel like OP needs to get this turned into a Hallmark movie. Thanks for the update OP, glad everything worked out and you were able to share such a wonderful story with us!

  31. Snarf*

    I think we can take this as a life lesson: things tend to work out when you have very wealthy family and friends…

  32. OP*

    Thank you again to everyone for your kind wishes, I wish I could respond to them all but I have read every one!

  33. Hamish the Accountant*

    Awwww, this is such a great update! Happy to see a nice wrap up to the saga.

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