Thursday, April 19, 2007

Dumping For Dollars

Dumping For Dollars
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2007

They say that breaking up is hard to do. At least that's what the song says. So for $68, you can outsource the job.

German entrepreneur Bernd Dressler has started a service where he delivers a break-up message on behalf of someone who wants to dump his or her lover, partner, or spouse.

"Roses are red, Violets are blue, Welcome to Dumpsville, Population: You"

Dressler's so-called Separation Agency has helped to terminate 120 relationships in 11 months, earning him the nickname, "The Terminator."

"We have had dating agencies for 30 years," Dressler told the BBC. "If you want to have a new partnership, then you have to quit your previous one."

Dressler will deliver the bad news with typical German efficiency in person for 50 Euros, or by phone for 20.

"I say to them, 'Good day, my name is Bernd Dressler from the Separation Agency, and I have been asked by your partner to inform you that he or she wishes to end your relationship,'" Dressler said in an interview with the BBC.

The client is asked to give three reasons for the breakup, and then gets to choose from one of four breakup packages, starting with a "let's stay friends" arrangement, which includes a "sensitive phone call."

I should sue Dressler for royalties. I was on the receiving end of this one so many times in college, I trademarked it.

For the 50 Euro package, Dressler will show up on your soon-to-be ex's doorstep, and give a painfully detailed account of why you can't stand him or her anymore. He will then collect your stuff and be on his way.

The BBC also spoke with one of Dressler's victims -- er, recipients -- a 37-year-old council official named Hagen. Dressler informed the unsuspecting Hagen that his girlfriend, Heike, wanted to break up with him.

"It hurt like hell at the time," Hagen told the Beeb. "But Mr. Dressler was very objective. I suppose it was the only way that Heike could tell me that things are over."

No, there was one other way. "Hagen, I'm breaking up with you," leaps readily to mind. But the problem with that approach is that it takes, well, courage.

"I have come to the conclusion that younger people can't face up to ending difficult affairs. Many treat relationships in the same way as an empty Coke can -- when it's finished, they want to throw it away," said Dressler.

That, and they're a bunch of gutless cowards. What happened to the good old days of breaking up? The tearful pleadings? The late night hang-up phone calls? The obsessive stalking and restraining orders?

Nowadays it's separation agencies, relayed breakups through mutual friends, or in the case of a woman my wife knows, receiving a text message on her cell phone. (This particular self-absorbed coward sent a text message to his girlfriend telling her that he was spending the weekend at his fathers, and "by the way, I don't think this is going to work out.")

I'm not saying people should stay in bad relationships, or to be with someone they don't like. But this guy should man up and actually talk with his girlfriend, not tap out a free text message on his camera phone.

"Hey, u r dumped. Thx. L8r."

With services like Dressler's, I have to wonder, is he filling a preexisting need? Are there people who are such wimps that they can't break up with their partner without help? Or has the creation of his service created also created the demand, like the iPod, the fax machine, or the Chia Pet.

Some businesses have begun using the phrase "separated from employment," as a euphemism for firing someone or laying off a bunch of people. They can't bring themselves to say "Bob was fired" or "we just crushed the livelihoods of hundreds of people so our CEO can get his stock bonus." So they came up with a phrase to make themselves feel a little less guilty.

How long will it be before these companies start outsourcing their employment separation to people like Dressler?

"Hello, my name is Eugene Farnsworth from the Employment Separation Agency, and I have been asked by your employer to inform you that he or she wishes to end your employment. I need to collect their stapler and their toothbrush."

Still, Dressler may be on to something. After all, he gets paid $65 just to crush someone's heart on behalf of a coward, with only a minimal effort on his part. Maybe this is something I should consider.

Mary Ann Shaw, please call me at your earliest convenience. I have a message for you from your husband, Ron.

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